Friday, 25 March 2016

More horses in the family

A previous post in 2014 recorded the story of Poitrel, a horse owned by Bill and Fred Moses winning the 1920 Melbourne Cup. Since then I have discovered that another family member trained winners of five Melbourne Cups - Archer in 1861 and 1862, Tim Whiffler in 1867, Chester in 1877 and Calamia in 1878.

Image from South Coast Register
The trainer of these horses was Etienne de Mestre (1832-1916). His father, Prosper de Mestre was born in France and had spent time in the United States before settling in Australia. In 1821 at St Phillip's Church in Sydney Prosper married Mary Ann Black, daughter of Mary Hyde (1779-1864), my great x3 grandmother. Prosper and Marry Ann had ten children - their third son was Etienne Livingstone de Mestre who was born in Sydney on 9 April 1832.

Prosper, a merchant, had property named Terara (Terarra) near the Shoalhaven River. In the 1850s Etienne established a horse stud, stables and racetrack on this property. Etienne had been a jockey and later had considerable success as a trainer. However he also he was not always successful and in 1883 the property was sold to cover his debts.

Etienne had had some success racing horses in Melbourne so in 1861 he took two horses, Archer and his own horse, Inheritor, by steamer to Melbourne for the race which in later years was to become known as The Melbourne Cup. Archer returned the following year and won the race again. Etienne intended that Archer would run in the 1863 race but officials said his application arrived late.
Archer with jockey, John Cutts - ABC
After the refusal to let him race Archer in 1863 Etienne refused to take other horses for the race until 1867 when he entered Tim Whiffler in the race.
Tim Whiffler - ABC
In 1877 Chester was the winner of the Melbourne Cup.
Chester with jockey, Paddy Piggott - ABC
Etienne's final winner in the race was Calamia in 1878.
Calamia with jockey, T Brown - ABC
Winning five Melbourne Cup races as a trainer was a record that Etienne held until the recent successes of Bart Cummings. Etienne de Mestre was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame on 12 September 1992 and Australian Racing Museum Hall of Fame in 2002.

Additional information on the web about Etienne de Mestra:
Etienne Livingstone de Mestre - Australian Dictionary of Biography
Archer, first Melbourne Cup winner - Progroup Racing
Australian Connection - de Mestre family tree
The horse that started a legend - Alison Stuart-writer
De Mestre family history
Etienne de Mestre - De Mestre Family story

My Australian Story: Archer's Melbourne Cup by Vashti Farrer (children's book)
Horsemen of the First Frontier (1788-1900) by Keith Robert Binney

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