The ’Bool: The History of Racing in Warrnambool—from 1848
By Mark McNamara
RACING, AND A REGION’S, GRAND STORY
Mark McNamara’s near-30-year toil has produced a book of more than 400 pages that is an amazing and well-researched story of more than a century and a half of horse-racing history in Warrnambool that also is a history of the region’s people and their sporting passion.
The magnificent Grand Annual Steeplechase takes centre stage at Warrnambool’s annual three-day May carnival, and it is covered extensively in Melbourne barrister McNamara’s much wider labour of love.
As the proud Warrnambool man and highly respected former chief steward, Des Gleeson, says in his foreword: “The carnival’s Grand Annual Steeplechase is the ultimate test of horse and rider, run over an exhausting 5500 metres with 33 obstacles, more than any other steeplechase in the world. It is a spectacle unmatched, conducted through open paddocks and up and down hills, horses running clockwise and anti-clockwise at different stages.”
The book covers the Annual and the other iconic carnival races, the Warrnambool Cup, the Wangoom Handicap, the Brierly Steeplechase and the Galleywood Hurdle. Warrnambool-born McNamara tells of the exploits of the great horses, including Galleywood, for whom the hurdle was named, and delves into the fight to save jumps racing, an “endangered species” in racing in recent years.
It details the exploits of trainers such big winners Kevin Lafferty and Darren Weir, the great jockeys such as Tom Corrigan and Ted Byrne, and the jockey- trainer combinations such as Pat Hyland and Jim Moloney. Horse owners Tozer, Manifold and more provide key moments, right from the mid-1800s when many rode their own horses in races as amateurs and also were involved—as or with administrators—in the establishment of clubs and Warrnambool’s racecourses.