Geegees Blackflash won the 2013 Launceston Cup, his jockey, Peter
Mertens, may well have been acclaimed by the crowd, but, and with
the greatest respect, he does not even come close to a jockey called
Harry Motton who achieved the same feat on board a 14 year old horse
called Strop in 1876.
Interestingly, when he
did ride Strop to victory, Motton was only 13 years old, or one year
younger the horse. You may be struggling to find a reoccurrence of
that anywhere in the world.
But Harry Motton wasn't
just a jockey. He was quite an extraordinary sportsman.
As well as being a jockey
good enough to ride in the Melbourne Cup (1876 - Bella) he was also
a champion international rifle shooter, a cyclist, footballer, cricketer
and lawn bowler, for some years being the vice president of the City
Bowling Club in Sydney. Wonder what he did in his spare time?
The Sydney Morning Herald
of November 5, 1930 reported that:
He won the Launceston
and Hobart Cups on Strop, a Panic horse, in 1876. The horse was then
14 years old and the rider 13 years. The same horse won the Hobart
Cup 10 years before, and was as sound as a bell when he was retired
at 15 years. He also rode Strop in the Australian Cup in 1876, and
was second on Bella in the Launceston Cup in 1877.
had a sensational experience with the famous rider, Tom Hales, in
one Hobart Cup. Hales was on Southern Cross and he on Strop. They
were having a head-and-head finish when a stirrup broke, and he was
falling between the two horses when Hales gripped him by the jacket
and hoisted him back Into the saddle. Then he went on to ride desperately
against Hales, who subsequently remarked that It was a bit rough for
the boy to try and beat him after probably saving his life.
Riding a penny farthing he won the 5 and 10 mile cycling championships
of North Queensland and as a footballer was a distinguished player
and "gold medal" winner in Tasmania.
you've got to believe it! He captained the Charters Towers (Qld) cricket
team and was quite a good wicket keeper. And as a lawn bowler he won
the Hunter's Hill singles and was runner up in the Sydney City Bowling
Just for good measure,
he is also in the history books as being the first man to drive a
"new fangled" motor car in to the Queensland town of Cloncurry
As a target rifle shooter
he won Bisley, the epitome of shooting championships, in
1907 from a field of 1400 competitors scoring 103 out of a possible
105 from 21 shots.
He also just happened
to have won The Sydney King's twice in Sydney (the ultimate shooting
contest in Australia), the Queensland King's prize meeting once, the
grand aggregate in Scotland in 1907, and two Tasmanian championships,
as well as the miniature championship of New South Wales.
He was a bicycle maker
before WW1, later became a gunsmith. He was very busy in the period
when the Long Lee was the main target rifle in use in Australia (pre
1933) and he had a little hut at the Anzac range in Sydney from the
late 1920's until about 1960, doing gunsmithing on rifles at all major
meets there and for the local club members He converted rifles
from military standard to target shooting standard. He put new barrels
on, bedded them and set them up for target use.
Later Harry's son Henry
Irwin Motton was a gunsmith and another famous rifle shot, as was
his son Peter... 3 generations of "Motty's". A
Motty rifle is regarded by those still in the sport as a very special
piece of pre WW2 Australian target shooting history.
Peter Mertens? Good jockey
but looks a bit pale compared to Harry Motton. Then again - so would
racing systems and research