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Hunter Horseman’s Seventy Years of Muswellbrook Racing



ONE of the biggest thrills that Henry ‘Boyd’ Gageler and his wife Francie received in over half a century of breeding and racing was when Iga Ninja, a horse they bred and sold at the Inglis Sydney yearling sales, led in the straight before finishing a close up seventh in the1988 Golden Slipper.


Owned and trained by Howard Rodger, Iga Ninja had been sent out at 140-1. He was the longest priced runner in the field, something that was surprising as he had shown good ability in Sydney earlier. During his juvenile career he contested 13 races for three Randwick wins, including the Canonbury Stakes, a third in the Skyline Stakes and fourths in the Breeder’ Plate and Todman Slipper Trial.


Later sire of winners from very restricted use, Iga Ninja was bred by the Gagelers on Rosehill, a small farm they had on the fringe of Muswellbrook in the Hunter Valley, using Sylvester, a Biscay sire they stood, and Royal Lassie, a mare by Pandour, a very good Queensland sire from use at the Wattle Brae stud.  They bred ten winners from Royal Lassie and seven from Iga Ninja’s sister Union Girl, herself a winner of five and a second in Sydney. Many of the winners were raced by the Gagelers and also trained by Boyd.


The Gagelers got into breeding in the late 1950s with two sisters Silver Cape, a mare who won 25 races for them, including the annual Corinthian – amateur riders – at Randwick and the Cessnock, Grenfell and Merriwa Cups, and Race Tip, a Cessnock Maiden winner.  They presented the first foals out of these mares at the Inglis yearling sale in1961, but took one of them, a filly got by Genetout (FR) from Silver Cape, home. Winner for them under the name of Gendilla of four races at five furlongs, she produced for them the1965 foaled Red Gauntlet (GB) colt Stars and Stripes. Sold as a yearling, he was a tough sprinter who won 14 races, at least seven in Sydney and three in America.


Ninety years old in mid July and all his life in the Hunter Valley, Boyd Gageler was born at the Denman hospital and raised on the family’s dairy farm, a Goulburn river bordered Sandy Hollow property which is now Nathan Tinkler’s Patinack Farm stud.  He has a been involved with racing since he left school and has been attending race meetings at Muswellbrook for over seventy years, including winning races on their Skellatar Park track with horses he bred, owned and trained.


His contribution to Muswellbrook racing was recognised at their Darley Tiara meeting on Monday of last week when he was a guest of the Club and its president, Jim Rodger, presented him with a Life Membership badge.  At the same time family and friends celebrated his birthday with a party in the Club’s Silks Function Centre overlooking the track. It was one of two birthday parties for Sandy Hollow horse people on the day, the other was a seventieth celebration for Mary Hallett, the owner of Patinack’s neighbour River Ridge, a boutique agistment farm.


Muswellbrook Race Club is to have an even bigger celebration at their meeting on Sunday August 5. It will celebrate150 years of racing with a family day highlighted by a visit of the annual Melbourne Cup tour party.Two special guests will be Melbourne Cup winning jockeys Wayne Harris and Larry Olsen.

 Courtesy of Brian Russell Bloodstock Media Service 

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