OUR MEMORIES
Waler


for New Youth Waves from New South Wales

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

The Waler is an Australian breed of riding horses that developed from the horses that were brought to the Australian colonies in the 1800s.

The name comes from their early breeding origins in New South Wales.

They were originally known as New South Walers.

 

BACKGROUND

 

The quadrupeds at the beginning of Hong Kong’s racing formed a mixed mob.

Runners were ranging from big English thoroughbreds down to Australian Walers, Arabs and small ponies from several sources.

Racing each in his own class, horse and pony provided some excellent sport.

 

Walers had been started to put in China races much earlier than we might realized.

Until 1960, those Australian imports succeeded China ponies and replacing the latter gradually.

However, Walers were still classified as ponies only a decade before professionalization of racing in Hongkong.

They were in fact descended from true horse stock in New South Wales, whose amounts of thoroughbred blood increased with time.

 

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

1848-02-07_2 Monday (The First Day of Annual Race Meeting) the Plenipotentiary’s Cup was for Walers.

The trophy presented by Governor Sir John Davis , was won by GREY STYLE.

 

1855, racing was flourishing in some of the northern cities of China, and the China pony had established itself in public favor there.

At that time, racing in Hong Kong was languishing, from causes unstated; so Hong Kong too turned to the China pony.

 

1868, there was a further decline in entries of horses.

For the German Cup no English horse was entered, the Walers having it pretty much to themselves.

 

1875, The German Cup was confined to “subscription” horses.

There were 13 entries, all Walers, but only two started.

In a handicap for horses, fourteen Walers were entered, but only three started.

 

1878, there was something of a revival for horses, due, apparently, to importation of Walers on the subscription system.

Four events were provided for them, including the Garrison and Parsee Cups.

 

1900-06-21, the Boxer Rebellion in the north was declared.

Shortly, it cut off the supply of ponies, and Hong Kong reverted hurriedly to Australian Walers.

 

1901-02-26 Annual Meeting, ponies available were not sufficient.

The Stewards hurriedly imported a further lot of Walers, which were classified as “Derby griffins”.

 

1901-02-03 the Derby was for Walers and also a Champions event for Walers as well.

 

1902, negotiations were opened in Australia and Singapore for another batch of Walers.

1902-02-19 Meeting, this time to be all of one class.

Eight to “Waler Griffins”, three to “Hong Kong Walers” and three to “Open Walers”.

This proportion was held to be unjust to owners of Walers.

It was emphasised that a Waler cost a good deal more than a China pony.

The owners also objected to the height fixed for Walers.

The Stewards had proposed “Open Walers” races, to admit Shanghai Walers measuring 15.1 hands.

Hong Kong had previously fixed a limit of height for Walers of 14.3 hands.

Chairman Chater warned that without the Shanghai ponies there would not be enough “Old Walers” to make a race.

Members agreed to postpone the issue until after the 1903 Meeting.

 

1903, with the end of the Boxer trouble, the China pony was back and the Waler was ousted.

 

1904, the Walers faded from the scene.

Only one race each day was for Walers — the Foochow Cup, the Professional Cup and the Phaethon Stakes.

The best of the three fields was seven starters.

 

1930 Japanese intrusion into China seriously threatened the supply lines again.

Hong Kong hurriedly turned to Australia, and the Walers returned to Happy valley.

1930-11-01, a shipment of 20 arrived.

 

1931, Japan’s pressure upon China caused another interruption of pony supply, and 40 more Walers were imported.

 

1932, Forty more Australian ponies arrived, and among the new events there were Walers prominency:

Rooty Hill Derby (1-1/2miles ), a sweepstake of $20 each with $2,000 added for division.

Australian Ponies’ Champions (1-1/4miles ), a $50 sweepstake with $2,500 added for the winner.

The Sydney Maidens and the Perth Plate were both divided into two sections, for over and under 14 hands.

At the Extra Meetings, added to the Hong Kong Autumn Champions and the Sub. Griffins Champions, and the Queensland Autumn Champions.

 

1933 Annual, another shipment of Australians had landed; but there was apparently heavy wastage in the Waler ranks.

From 115 stables came 194 China ponies (272 in the previous year) and 46 Australians (60 in the previous year).

 

1934, The Australians, however, swept all six of the old marks from their board. Waler of the year was Mr Fatshan’s ABLE AMAZON (14.3).

 

1939, a mob of special Australians was imported, to be sold by auction.

Sixty Walers were classified as Australian subscription griffins.

 

1940, the Rooty Hill Derby for Walers was combined with the Sports Club Cup.

1940-04-06, of the 2-Mile handicaps, the first, the Brisbane Spring Handicap, was an open event for all Walers, run at the Third Extra Meeting.

 

1941, the Governor’s Cup was given over to the Walers, but up to 1940, the event was for China ponies.

Then, the China pony was again “on the way out”.

 

1942 the China pony Derby was dropped, and there was but one Derby — the Hong Kong Derby — and it would be for Walers.

 

1945-11-25 racing in Hong Kong was resumed on Sunday afternoon by a unit of the Liberation forces at Beas River.

The ponies engaged included some of the surviving pre-War Walers.

 

1946-01-01 racing in Happy Valley again, other pre-War ponies competing were mostly unnamed 1942 Waler griffins.

 

1947, pick of the new Walers was Mr R. Johannesen’s NORSE QUEEN, which won the Derby (Mr Ostroumoff) and the Champions (Mr Donald Black).

 

 

SUMMARY

 

Initially, Walers were not a favorite sources of runners.

In a HKJC meeting, The Waler, the speaker declared, was a very expensive animal, costing twice as much as the China subscription griffin.

“Then he has to be fed up on Mellin’s Food, and treated with Mrs Allen’s Hair Restorer to put him in condition for a gallop.

And after keeping him four months and having got him fit, when it comes to a trial 80 per cent of the Walers can only do China pony time.

Of 35 Waler subscription griffins in the previous year, not one had qualified for the Champions.”

And as to using them for Polo, of 60 Walers which came up for the 1902 Meeting only two had appeared on the Polo Ground, and they had not distinguished themselves.

 

Ceasing pony supply after World War II and the liberation of China, thus secured the Happy Valley track to the Australians exclusively.

By that time, it was fitting that a reborn Club should have the services of a reborn horse.

The Waler became a much improved animal, and much better educated and ridden.

The runner from down-under had established himself very firmly in public favour.

 

A prediction was that Walers in future are likely to be larger, because new ponies were being bred in Australia.

Those still what were called in Australia “station-bred” — meaning bred not on stud farms but on cattle stations.

The new ponies were got by stud sires out of station mares.

However, successive generations of station mares have become increasingly blue-blooded, so the progeny had acquired pedigrees.

 

1970s before the professional racing in Hongkong, it could be said that thoroughbreds have already replacing walers.

 

 

REFERENCE

 

The Waler combined a variety of breeds; particularly the Thoroughbred, Arab, the Cape horse (from the Cape of Good Hope), Timor Pony and perhaps a little Clydesdale or Percheron.

It was originally considered only a “type” of horse and not a distinct breed.

 

 

RELATED LINK

 

Plenipotentiary’s Cup – 《RacingMemories.HK》

 

 

Acknowledgment to HKJC Racing Registry for offering relevant records.

 

 

 


 

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