Ernest Clarke first established the Melton Stud in Victoria in 1907 to stand his great racehorse Emir there as a stallion.  Money was expended lavishly on the 318-acre property set on high, undulating limestone country on a stretch of the Werribee River looking down into the vast depths of Exford Weir, over which the Ballarat train engines steamed; the homestead itself was about three miles from the old Melton railway station.  Emir was the first racehorse owned by Ernest Clarke, and he idolised him.  Jim Scobie had purchased the colt at the Sydney Yearling Sales in 1902 for 1000 guineas on Clarke’s behalf, and Clarke proceeded to race him in partnership with his brother Sir Rupert.  The horse won twelve races and about £7,000 in stakes for the brothers.  Actually, Emir was much better than this record indicates.  Throughout his racing career, he was handicapped by a contumacious element in his character that manifested itself quite often at the start, the probable cause of which, a physical disability, was not discovered until after he had retired from racing.

Scobie always regarded him as one of the best horses he had anything to do with, and in his book ‘My Life on the Australian Turf’ makes the bold claim that ‘except for a physical disability, Emir would have been as great a performer as Carbine’.  Be that as it may, the disability in question also caused Emir’s impotence as a stallion, and he finished his days as a hack on the Casterton property of J. B. Gill.  Ernest Clarke was a disappointed man having spent a fortune to set up a stud, and he needed a replacement stallion rather quickly.  At the time, John Brewer, the former Victorian steeplechase jockey and renowned horseman, was training successfully in England and in early 1910 Clarke cabled him a £5,000 commission to both find him a stallion and buy him some well-bred mares as well.  Brewer’s choice of a stallion fell upon The Welkin, for which he paid 800 guineas, and shortly afterwards he collected a dozen likely broodmares.  After buying the lot, and then covering the horses’ insurance and freight to Melbourne, Brewer was able to return Clarke about £26 of the total commission entrusted to him.  As this chronicle will confirm, rarely has a better bulk deal been done in bloodstock.

The Welkin was the first descendant of Flying Fox to come to Australia when he landed in Melbourne in June 1910.  In England he had raced up to and including his five-year-old season and was noted for his speed; his wins included both the Royal Stakes and July Handicap at Newmarket.  In his first season at stud at Melton, he was reserved solely for mares belonging to Ernest and Sir Rupert Clarke, including such gems as Sweet Nell and La Carabine.  The Welkin’s fame as a stallion was established in a matter of weeks in the spring of 1913 by an astonishing string of wins by the first of his progeny in early juvenile races.  John Brewer proved just as canny in his choice of mares on behalf of Ernest Clarke in England.  Included among them were Light, Teppo and Wilga, and while all three will feature in our story as it unfolds, it is the first of the trio that concerns us here.  Although she had failed in all four starts on the racecourse, Light was regally-bred, and her dam was a half-sister to that marvellous imported stallion, Bill of Portland.  Light first went to the stud in late 1910, and she was mated every season from that year until 1931 – including fifteen years in succession with The Welkin.  Such a pattern of monogamy is highly unusual in life, let alone in bloodstock breeding, but is easily explained in this case by her fourth foal, a bay colt with a white blaze and a haughty carriage that came into the world on 26th September 1915.  Some eighteen months later this particular youngster was slated for the annual autumn yearling sales in Melbourne.

THE WELKIN & PROGENY (The Australasian)

It just so happened that in the autumn of 1917, George Greenwood, the wealthy New Zealand pastoralist, cabled Ernest Clarke in Melbourne, requesting that he purchase a yearling on his behalf from his Melton Stud draft that he considered was selling below its value.  Clarke consulted with Archie Yuille at the time, and they both agreed that the bay colt by The Welkin from Light seemed a likely candidate. The bay was just then recovering from strangles and had lightened off in condition – not a look that would recommend him to prospective buyers.  Accordingly, it was arranged for Harry Chisholm to do the bidding when the youngster entered the ring, and buy him if there wasn’t much interest.  Chisholm got him for just 230 guineas.  A few days later this son of The Welkin was shipped across the Tasman Sea – the first of what would be fifteen such crossings for the horse.  He joined Greenwood’s team of horses in the Yaldhurst stables of Dick Mason.

When it came to naming the colt, Greenwood’s first preference was for Celestial – quite appropriate given that ‘welkin’ is a poetic or literary term for the sky. However, that name was rejected, and Greenwood then opted for Gloaming, meaning twilight and a word forever associated with Scotland because of the song ‘Roamin in the Gloaming’ made famous by Harry Lauder only a few years before. Prepared in New Zealand for early racing as a two-year-old, Gloaming went shin sore before he ever faced the starting tapes.  Nonetheless, he showed considerable speed and reports of his ability even managed to reach the Australian press at the time Biplane was cutting his swathe here in the spring of 1917.

But like so many of The Welkin’s stock, Gloaming was inclined to grossness, and Dick Mason arranged to have the youngster gelded before committing him to the spelling paddock.  He wasn’t put into training again until shortly before he was sent to Australia in June 1918 in the company of Biplane, and another rising three-year-old maiden galloper in Molyneux.  In retrospect, the shin soreness that prompted his lengthy spell at two was the luckiest thing that could have happened, for it allowed the horse to fully mature before excessive demands were made on him physically; as a result, Gloaming was still hale and hearty and racing successfully even as a nine-year-old.  Although he gave the appearance of a tall horse, he was pitched low in front and as a three-year-old was only 15.2 ½ in height, and afterwards 15.3.  A long-striding horse, he was nonetheless possessed of a perfect and economical galloping action.

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Dick Mason was a past master at confusing the Randwick touts as to the respective merits of his horses, but even he couldn’t suppress the eulogies bestowed on Gloaming before the gelding made his race debut at the September Tattersall’s Meeting.  Mason had taken the precaution of entering the horse in both the Novice and the Chelmsford Stakes run on the same card.  Reports of Gloaming’s talent had reached the club’s handicapper, for in the Novice he allocated the gelding ten pounds more than his stablemate, Molyneux, and yet both were unraced three-year-olds.  The extent to which a handicapper was entitled to take into account the tales of early morning track watchers when framing a handicap excited some comment at the time. However, the issue became academic when Mason chose to scratch Gloaming from the Novice and elected instead for a baptism of fire against the best weight-for-age horses in the land.

Now it is a common enough remark for an owner or trainer to shrug off an impressive performance by one of their horses, with the suggestion that ‘there is a better one at home’.  I think part of this is explained by the natural bravado of the Turf, while part also lies in wishing to downplay already disclosed form.  Whatever the motivation, when George Greenwood confided to close friends in the week before the Chelmsford Stakes that he had a better horse than Biplane engaged, most took him at his word.  For the cat had already been let out of the bag when the big and robust bay gelding beat his more illustrious stablemate in a track gallop at Randwick some weeks earlier.  The touts might not have known the respective saddle weights the two horses carried in the gallop or how lightly each was shod, but it was clear this newcomer knew how to put his feet down.

It is worth recalling the field for that Chelmsford Stakes, and just what it was this unraced youngster did to them.  Rebus was the firm favourite, but Mason’s confidence had seen to it that Gloaming was backed into 7/2 second elect. Considering the company also included Kennaquhair, Estland, Poitrel and Lingle, this was quite a measure of support.  The special conditions of the race meant that Gloaming enjoyed a ten-pound allowance and only had to carry 6 st. 11lb.  Des O’Connor, a lightweight, apprenticed to Jack Whitworth, was one of the few boys able to ride Gloaming at his handicap weight and got the mount.  At the starting post the big gelding slewed half way round and conceded his rivals about eight lengths, but O’Connor soon had him travelling sweetly, and at the half-mile, he was up with the field.  Into the straight, all sorts of runners were being hailed as the likely winner until the white-faced bay horse hove into view on the outside. Gloaming won running away by eight lengths in an Australasian record time for the nine furlongs of 1 minute and 52 seconds – clipping a quarter-second off the previous record held jointly by Perkeo and Woorak, both of whom had made their times in the same race. Gloaming might have knocked another second from the time too, had he stretched out over the last half-furlong.  The win launched Des O’Connor on a successful career in the saddle as a lightweight, and many people might remember him in his older years for he remained an occasional visitor to Randwick before his death in December 1961.

 

GLOAMING

It was fortunate for Greenwood and Mason that Gloaming emerged when he did, for Biplane went wrong only a matter of days later and was sent back to New Zealand for a lengthy spell, never to be the same horse again.  Everybody now wanted to back Gloaming for the Derby although there remained certain sceptical pressmen who warned that the Chelmsford form might prove misleading.  After all, Gloaming was by The Welkin, and his progeny thus far had proven to be sprinters and milers. It was argued that with twenty-eight pounds more to carry over three furlongs further, victory couldn’t be taken for granted.  Although Gloaming had won the Chelmsford Stakes easily enough, the race did knock a bit out of him, and for some days afterwards, he was off his oats. Consequently, Mason was forced to go easy with him and the furthest the bay gelding went in track work at a fast pace leading up to the Derby was over a mile.  As noted before in these pages, Dick Mason was a well-known critic of the Totalisator, but on this visit, his opinion of the machine improved.  The reason had nothing to do with the efficiency or the size of the dividends provided, but rather the fact that the roof of the new Tote building on the flat proved to be the perfect vantage point for clocking Gloaming’s final Derby gallops.  Some other trainers shared his enthusiasm for the spot.

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A FEW GUESTS AT RANDWICK (Sydney Mail)

The estimated attendance on Derby Day was 60,000 people, a record crowd and yet another reminder of just how little the War had affected racing in New South Wales.  Betting was never heavier, especially in cash, and the abolition of place and concession betting on the Totalisator saw the machine given unprecedented patronage – a new record for Tote revenue was set that day at £73,998/5/-.  All this despite a strong Randwick ring that boasted the presence of 145 bookmakers licensed for the Paddock, 139 for the Leger, and 126 for the Flat.  Out of the original 416 entries for the race, a dozen horses honoured their commitments for a Derby start, and the failure of the progeny of The Welkin to yet win over the classic distance did not deter the public from backing his only two representatives in the race into favouritism.  Gloaming continued to dominate betting discussions, of course, but if his escutcheon was to be blotted, the public considered that Outlook, the leading juvenile of the previous season, was the colt most likely to do it.

The 1918 A.J.C. Derby field and race conditions appear in the table below:

1918 field

Outlook was the winner of five races and £7,481 and was raced by his breeder, James Wilson junior.  Although the colt had run second in the Sires’ Produce Stakes at Flemington, he only came into his own when he travelled across to Randwick for the autumn meeting.  Surprisingly, he was allowed to go to the post in the A.J.C. Sires’ Produce Stakes at 20/1 when the public considered the fillies, Palm Leaf and Sweet Lady, had his measure.  But when that pair went for each other’s throat, they set the race up for Outlook, and, with a final swoop from the tail of the field, he won brilliantly.  Even before this exhibition, Jim Scobie had been after the colt on behalf of the wealthy Victorian pastoralist, S. P. Mackay.  He resumed the charge after the Sires’ win, and Wilson put a 5000 guineas price on the colt, with delivery after the Champagne Stakes.  When Outlook carried the penalty and won that race just as easily, Scobie clinched the deal.  Although he had disappointed in the Memsie Stakes upon resumption from his winter spell, his second in the Rosehill Spring Stakes assured Outlook of friends on Derby Day.

OUTLOOK (The Australasian)

Apart from Gloaming, New Zealand was well-represented in the Derby.  Tom Lowry had sent over Finmark, a homebred and the Dominion’s leading two-year-old of the previous season.  This colt had been set a somewhat arduous campaign as a juvenile but had won the Wellington Stakes, Great Northern Champagne Stakes and Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes to stamp his credentials.  An attractive red chestnut, he was a brother to Estland, the winner of both the New Zealand Derby and the Great Northern Derby, their dam being a half-sister to the great Bobrikoff, who had carried Lowry’s ‘gold jacket, navy sash and gold cap’ with such distinction. Finmark, like Bobrikoff, was a son of Finland, whom Lowry got hold of after he had finished racing, and he proved a great success at the stud in New Zealand, although he was more noted as a sire for speed than stamina.

Finmark had been installed the winter Derby favourite immediately it became known that Lowry had secured passage for the colt, and he was only dislodged from pre-eminence by Gloaming’s sensational debut at the Tattersall’s Meeting.  Gerald Stead fielded two representatives in the Derby in Almoner, the winner of the Breeders’ Plate the previous spring, and Kilmoon, a stylish son of Kilbroney, who had won a ten-furlongs handicap first up at Rosehill on Guineas Day.  Finmark and Almoner had lost some caste for the Derby when they failed to flatter in the Rosehill Guineas, which that year, like so many others, was something of an upset, the race being won rather easily by the 25/1 outsider, Woorawa.  Finmark had made the pace at Rosehill, and his failure was excused on the strength that it was his first appearance since April, but Almoner’s disgrace wasn’t so easily explained away. Woorawa, on the strength of his Guineas form, was installed fourth elect for the classic.  The only other horse in the betting was Dick Meagher, a last start winner of the Hawkesbury Spring Handicap.

The tactics that Ben Deeley had used so effectively on Biplane in the Derby the year before were given another airing.  Some might have harboured doubts about Gloaming’s stamina going into the race, but Deeley wasn’t numbered amongst them.  The gelding was a free-going galloper with natural speed, and it seemed only logical to the jockey to let him use it.  It was apparent very early in the contest that Deeley didn’t intend any horse to head his mount, although Outlook momentarily did so near the nine furlongs post, albeit with a short-lived challenge.  Whereas Gloaming ran kindly, Outlook pulled his own chances to bits and was a beaten horse at the end of ten furlongs.  Though Finmark put in a fast run in the straight, it was Gloaming that did the better in the final fifty yards.

GLOAMING AND BEN DEELEY (Sydney Mail)

There were no hard luck stories; there never can be when a horse serves it up from the front in a quick time and then defies all challengers to run him down.  The clock told the tale: Gloaming recorded 2 minutes 33 ½ seconds for the Randwick mile and a half, only a second worse than the race record Noctuiform ‘officially’ established in 1905, and never bettered in the years since.  However, whereas Noctuiform had a stablemate to assist him in setting his pace, Gloaming had done it all on his own.  He did have a strong southerly wind blowing during the running that helped him in the first two and last six furlongs, but then it helped his rivals as well.  Finmark carried Tom Lowry’s famous colours with distinction nonetheless, as he didn’t enjoy a smooth passage and twisted both his front plates.  Lowry suffered dual disappointments on that first day of the Spring Meeting, for apart from Finmark’s relegation into second place in the Derby, his champion mare Desert Gold was deprived of the weight-for-age Spring Stakes when Poitrel nosed her out on the winning post.

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The race was a triumph for the Dominion and for the third year in succession a New Zealand invader had taken the prize.  Gloaming might have been bred in Australia, but this was little comfort in a race where the first five place-getters all hailed from across the Tasman Sea.  Despite the winner’s expatriate status, the victory was well received by the huge crowd as it usually is when a favourite in the betting.  But the crowd also appreciated the sheer class of the performance and the fact that George Greenwood had announced before the event that, if successful, he would donate the equivalent of the first prize of the Spring Stakes to patriotic funds in Sydney.  Prior to the campaign, Greenwood had promised Biplane’s stakes to the war effort.  In announcing that Biplane had gone amiss and wouldn’t be seen out at the A.J.C. Spring Meeting, he promised the sum that Biplane would have won in the Spring Stakes to be supplemented by Gloaming instead.  Thus, something like £1,000 came out of Gloaming’s purse for that purpose.  During the war, Greenwood’s horses raced several times for the benefit of patriotic funds, both in Australia and New Zealand; it was patronage close to his heart given the death of his youngest son at Gallipoli.  Greenwood could afford to be generous after the Derby; he considered himself especially fortunate knowing that the race had just been re-opened to geldings, despite some spirited opposition, and Gloaming became only the second of the unsexed brigade to take the race – the first being Bob Ray in 1895.

More than one pressman covering the meeting remarked on the fact that the only owners guilty of such largesse to the war effort at our big meetings were our Kiwi cousins.  Tom Lowry, for example, was donating all of Desert Gold’s winnings to New Zealand patriotic funds to be used principally for the upkeep of hospital beds for wounded soldiers.  Ernest Clarke must have looked upon the result with some chagrin.  The £250 breeder’s bonus that Clarke received from the Derby prize was, in fact, more than he had received for the son of The Welkin at the yearling sales in Melbourne.  In having the good fortune to own a stallion as prolific as The Welkin, the crusty Victorian took a somewhat curmudgeonly view towards accepting outside mares to him.  In announcing the previous season that outside breeders might patronise the sire, the fee of £500 virtually assured none would apply.  It was a sum that exceeded anything being asked in England – after all, Swynford and The Tetrach had been available the previous year at 300 guineas!  Moreover, the highest price paid for any of The Welkin’s yearlings at the previous Melbourne sales had only been 560 guineas.  It seemed that Clarke had concluded that he was on to a good thing and, as is often the case on a racecourse, had decided to keep it all to himself.

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In winning consecutive Derbies at Randwick, Ben Deeley became the first jockey to do so since Bob Lewis accomplished the feat in 1900 and 1901 during Jim Scobie’s golden reign.  While Deeley had failed to pass the medical fitness test of New Zealand military authorities in June, whatever failings the army perceived, went unnoticed in the saddle. Deeley attained prominence as a jockey later in life than most of his calling, but he achieved more and lasted longer.  He first became leading jockey in New Zealand in 1907-08, and together with Hector Gray, he dominated the scales in that country during the second decade of the century, winning another four successive jockeys’ titles from 1912 through to 1915.  Deeley was renowned for his economy both in and out of the saddle.  He was never known to buy a race card, and a press clipping of the race-fields was known as a ‘Ben Deeley racebook’.

John Costello and Pat Finnegan in their excellent book ‘Tapestry of Turf’ recall an incident at Trentham in 1921 after Deeley had ridden a great race to snatch victory in the Kelburn Plate on Gloaming after Hector Gray, on Statuette, seemed to have him trapped in a pocket. Deeley was so plied with free drinks afterwards for his exhibition of horsemanship that when it came time for him to take the mount on another Greenwood horse, Egotism, in the last race on the card, he was unfit to mount.  Maurice McCarten was substituted and won the race instead.  Deeley was as much at home behind the gig of a trotter as he was in the saddle.  At the two-day autumn fixture of the Wanganui Jockey Club in 1918, Deeley rode four winners including one dead-heat; while at the Wanganui Trotting Club’s fixture, held on the day in between, he won a double as a driver.  After his association with Gloaming ended, Deeley travelled to India and for many years remained a leading jockey in that country.

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Gloaming’s triumph on Derby Day at Randwick was merely the prelude to a glittering career on the Turf.  Returned to New Zealand without a further appearance in Australia, Gloaming came out a month later to win the New Zealand Derby at Christchurch, and in the summer, he added the Great Northern Derby at Ellerslie.  He raced 16 times in his first season, recording 13 wins and 2 seconds. Sasanof beat him in the Stead Memorial (w-f-a 10f) while Desert Gold beat him a neck in the Taranaki Stakes (6f).  Whereas Greenwood and Mason dodged Desert Gold with Biplane, no such pusillanimity attended the programming of Gloaming’s races.  The gelding and the mare clashed five times in total, and this was the only occasion Desert Gold beat him.

DESERT GOLD (The Australasian)

In fairness, by then, Desert Gold was an aged mare and her best days on the racecourse were behind her.   Gloaming’s only unplaced run as a three-year-old and the only unplaced run of his entire career, came at his final start that season at Wellington in the North Island Challenge Stakes. Regarded as the best of good things, the occasion demonstrated the inglorious uncertainty of the Turf.  As the horses were all lined up at the barrier, the tapes caught Gloaming around the neck and forced him back so that he eventually fell.  He took no part in proceedings at all.  However, given that Gloaming had lined-up, the rules of racing meant it was recorded as a start – the one blemish on a magnificent record.

At four, Gloaming again competed at the A.J.C. Spring Meeting.  He suffered his only loss in seven starts that season when Poitrel beat him by a head in the Spring Stakes (w-f-a 12f) on the first day, but later on at the meeting he won the rich Craven Plate.  Before the 1920-21 racing season opened, Gloaming, by then a rising five-year-old, was provisionally sold for 7000 guineas to go to India but the horse failed a veterinary inspection.  Consequently, he crossed the Tasman again to compete at the A.J.C. Spring Meeting, but one morning after a track gallop at Randwick, the horse bled profusely from both nostrils. Gloaming returned to the Dominion without starting here.  It was a shame because his form later that season in New Zealand suggested he was at the very peak of his ability.  Contesting a dozen races ranging in distances, from four furlongs to a mile and a half, he won them all.

A similar misadventure occurred at the start of the following season. Installed at Randwick in readiness for the spring, he contracted a severe attack of influenza, and again all his Australian engagements were cancelled.  This time he returned home and proceeded to win eleven of his twelve starts that season.  His one defeat came about in the Islington Plate at Ellerslie when he had already equalled Desert Gold’s record winning sequence of nineteen and was poised to eclipse it.  The upset by Thespian on that occasion was widely attributed to a brilliant tactical ride by Hector Gray.  Gloaming certainly had no trouble beating Thespian every time the pair met afterwards.  Given that Gloaming won his next nine starts, but for that upset, he might have put together a string of twenty-nine consecutive victories.

The following year of 1922 saw those four celebrated clashes at weight-for-age with Beauford, Australia’s champion gelding hailing from the coalfields of Newcastle, at distances ranging from 9 to 12 furlongs.  At the time, Gloaming was seven and Beauford six, and each carried the same weight.  These epic encounters captured the public imagination as never before.  There might have been other horses engaged in the races, but nobody took much notice.  Their first ‘match’ came in the Chelmsford Stakes when Beauford emerged triumphant by less than a length.  A week later Gloaming levelled the score in the Hill Stakes over the Rosehill mile by a bit more than a length.  And then the A.J.C. Spring Meeting was upon them. Beauford beat Gloaming by a neck in the Spring Stakes, although the second prize money was enough to see the wonder horse finally eclipse Carbine’s stakes winnings record of £29,626.  That finish was captured for posterity in oils by Martin Stainforth, in a painting that now hangs in the committee rooms of the Australian Jockey Club.

Beauford-defeating-Gloaming-in-1922-Spring-Stakes-1

MARTIN STAINFORTH’S PAINTING OF THE 1922 AJC SPRING STAKES

 

Gloaming squared the series on the third day of the meeting with a convincing win in the Craven Plate, their fourth and final race.  It was quite noticeable on the day how many of the crowd left the racecourse immediately after that contest.  Perhaps those clashes took more out of each horse than imagined: Beauford didn’t start again that season, while Gloaming only turned out once more.  The pair never clashed again, and Beauford only ever won one more race.

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GLOAMING CONNECTIONS

GEORGE GREENWOOD, GEORGE YOUNG, AND DICK MASON BEFORE THE 1924 AJC SPRING STAKES

The wonder horse came across to Sydney again for the spring the following year but developed a joint problem that saw him return to the Dominion for a third time without racing here.  The problem was enough to keep him off the scene until January 1924. However, when he did come back, he won four of his five races and should have won them all.  For a horse whose name meant twilight, Gloaming lived up to it by raging against the dying of the light to the very end: even as a nine-year-old, he won his last eight races, including breaking through for the first time in the A.J.C. Spring Stakes as well as winning his third Craven Plate.  The old fellow carried colours for the last time at the Hawkes Bay Jockey Club Meeting in May 1925 in the Ormond Memorial Gold Cup.  Only one horse, The Hawk, a champion in his own right, opposed him at level weights but Gloaming proved superior to his three-year younger rival in race record time.  It wasn’t intended to be his last race, but that troublesome joint made him impossible to train thereafter.  Gloaming had 67 starts in total for 57 wins and 9 seconds; his stakes earnings of £43,100 were an Australasian record.  When one considers the aborted visits to Australia at the beginning of his five, six and eight-year-old seasons when he was in cracking form and the superiority of the prize money available here compared to New Zealand, with a little bit of luck his stakes total could have been so much more.

Curiously enough, for all his trips across the Tasman, Gloaming only raced once in Melbourne, winning the Melbourne Stakes at Flemington in 1924; he made history a few days later when he was paraded on Cup Day, thus affording thousands a glimpse of the wonder horse for the first time.  Greenwood observed: “Gloaming doesn’t belong to me; he belongs to the people.”  Dick Mason enjoyed a reputation for being not only a wonderful conditioner of a horse but for his uncanny judgement in placing them.  Never was this talent better demonstrated than with his handling of Gloaming.  It is true that he and Greenwood stuck to weight-for-age and special weight events with Gloaming thereby incurring some measure of criticism, but it was undoubtedly a major reason in the gelding’s longevity on the racecourse.  At the end of Gloaming’s career, Dick Mason was asked his opinion as to how he would compare with past champions in New Zealand.  Mason replied: “Up to a mile and a quarter, I would without hesitation pick Gloaming as the best horse that has raced in New Zealand, and I have had lots of good horses through my hands.  Next best to Gloaming, I would select Carbine, who was trained more for long-distance races and had better chances as a stayer than Gloaming, but if the latter had been trained for distances, I think he would have been able to stay quite as well.”

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One can only wonder what Gloaming might have achieved at stud had he been kept an entire.  Quite a few sons of The Welkin, such as Two, Three, Thrice and Greenstead, proved successful in the stallion barn and yet Gloaming was easily the best horse the imported stallion ever sired.  The Welkin died at Melton Stud in 1925 after having been the leading sire in Australia on three occasions, his progeny winning over £284,000 in stakes. The old horse retained a special place in Ernest Clarke’s heart, which was borne out by the extraordinary care taken of the stallion’s neatly railed grave, complete with a headstone, located just inside the entrance gate at the Melton Stud.  It wasn’t the only memorial to the champion stallion either. Ernest Clarke presented to the township of Melton a windmill, which drew water from a bore for the benefit of the residents and the windmill bore a brass plate acknowledging the memory of the great progenitor.

Mrs Helene Greenwood, the wife of the owner, in her book ‘Gloaming – The Wonder Horse’, calculated that Gloaming’s fifteen crossings of the Tasman, together with his many travels between Christchurch and Auckland, meant that the grand campaigner had travelled over 35,000 miles in all his pilgrimages. It really was a case of roamin’ in the gloaming! The old fellow spent his closing years at Teviotdale.  In a lovely paddock quite close to the homestead, Gloaming delighted in his retirement.  The property boasted nine miles of beach at its eastern boundary and enjoyed five miles of river frontage to the Waipara to the south. If only all retirees could have it so good.  He died on May 5th, 1932 after contracting a cold and inflammation of the stomach supervened.  Dick Mason only survived his old favourite by a week, dying at the age of eighty, with the reputation as New Zealand’s finest trainer of racehorses, firmly in his keeping. George Greenwood died in August later that same year, but not without a provision in his will for the erection of a bronze headstone over the grave of his wonder horse.