Legends of the Hill.
Pictured is Cannon Hill stockman and Yarnspinner and auther of this story, Graham Daly.
G’DAY readers. Cannon Hill saleyards provided a fabulous training ground for potential camp horses – thousands of cattle at our disposal on any given day, good sized, well-built yards, all on ashes, which was safe in any weather, and to top it all off, we were getting paid to be there.
We were never short of in-house entertainment or one-on-one cut-out competitions.
A good few in my time were dedicated drafters and organised their work commitments accordingly.
Consequently, the usual topic of smoko conversations on Monday was a graphic run-by-run replay of the drafting over the weekend.
And then on Friday it would be optimistically centred on their ambitions for the draft they were bound for that night.
Pam Gordon was a capable and fearless competitor. Del Urbecker (nee Prince) was as good a judge of cattle at a draft as anybody and rode hard.
Geoff Sharman would get to as many drafts as work allowed and was always very competitive.
David Cunningham, an excellent rider and cattleman, loved every minute of it and had a good few handy horses.
Jack Slack lived for campdrafting. He’s been at it all of his life and by and large every horse he rode he bred and trained himself.
Michael Storey didn’t stay long at the Hill but he continued to campdraft all of his life. It was a real family affair for Mick – he had a tribe of eight kids and every one of them started as juniors and these days their kids are coming through the ranks with growing success.
Kenny Carswell got to a few when work permitted.
Bob Burgiss and his family were involved and Ernie Kruger often accompanied Jack Slack.
Reg Warnemindi was in the game and Keith Smith made campdrafting his life’s passion until he took an interest in racehorses.
Big Keith Wilson was mad about drafting until a heavy fall left him with a badly broken leg. Keith never rode again.
Ron Monro and his daughter Gail were regulars.
Graeme O’Keefe has been at it for years.
Don Bourke, his son Michael and daughter Kate and John Woodham all played for a while.
James McKenna, my sister Denise O’Keefe and her daughter Annmarie Williamson are all campdraft devotees.
The Lawlor family from Cannon Hill were very prominent in campdrafting.
I never knew Bill, Ray or Jack but I did know and work with Michael and Peter and the youngest brother Anthony was always around on Sundays to help.
David Keating worked with Michael and did a few drafts.
Kenny Pope is 20 years my senior and turned 85 in July and campdrafted up til he was about 75.
Kenny was a son-in-law to Henry Daniels and cut his teeth under Henry’s guidance.
A keen drafter himself, Henry mentored some good men, Alan Storie and Don Ross for example.
Don and I have a common denominator in the campdraft scene, both of us won the first one we ever rode in.
Don was smart enough to quit while he was ahead. I haven’t won one since.
The Hassett family were another prominent and successful crew in the sport and boasted some good horses.
Henry Unnasch worked for the Pugh family and trained a horse for Sir Henry Abel Smith, the Governor of Queensland. That horse was a placegetter in the Warwick Gold Cup.
Roy Pugh campdrafted, along with his son Neil and mates Kev Coonan, Doug Hesse and Brian Galletly.
Neil told me his favourite times were when several of the blokes would order a rail wagon and load their horses straight after the Thursday cattle sale and jump in the drover’s compartment and party all the way.
They’d compete over the weekend, load again and hook up with a cattle train bound for Cannon Hill and be back in time to start work.
I haven’t been keeping count and I’m certain I’ve missed a few but I reckon if we were all still alive and kicking we could run a draft just for Cannon Hill riders.
I can’t tell you with any certainty just how many from the above list ever competed at Warwick in October, but I will name the few I’m sure of, Pam Gordon, Annmarie Williamson, Michael Storey, Cheryl Storey, Leah Storey, Ben Storey and yours truly.
Brian Perrett an old drafter himself and great fan of The Gold Cup can, from memory, name every winner and the horse they rode in sequence from the very beginnings of the event to the present day.
That’s over 80 years.
Vic Gough started competing at Warwick in campdrafting and rough riding in 1949 and has not missed one since.
More often than not Vic made the finals of both the Gold Cup and The Canning Downs.
Michael Boyce, that great stalwart of the sport, once told me “there’s a winning run in every yard if you’re smart enough or lucky enough to pick ’em and good enough to put ’em around”. They were words to ride by I’d say.
Far be it from me to give anyone advice but if you were to ask me I reckon the answer would be something like this:
How will we get this mad castrate around this course and through that gate?
I’ll tell ya how, ride to the blade then ride like hell, you’ll make the grade,
You’ve sent the cheque, your entry’s paid, it’s too late now, all bets are laid.
There’s no refund, you’ve no recourse, except to get one round that course.
Just ride in steady and pick your mark, but you be sure before you bark.
You’ve blocked him hard and own his mind or you might be too far behind.
To really, truly claim his brain, you just might have to shake those reins,
And ride right to his line of sight to bend him hard round to the right,
Be sure you’re set to ride and block him, change over now look out don’t hock him,
As you take him round that second peg, make sure you’re on that near side leg.
Get set up now to change once more and shape him for that perfect score.
Straight through the gate, with room to spare, now wrap him up you got there.
And if you’ve rode hard and ridden bold and if you’ve done just as I’ve told,
And when your score’s been added up you just might own that golden cup.
Story and pic by, Cannon Hill stockman and Yarnspinner Graham Daly., and thanks to original source sunshine coast daily
- MORE than $10,000 of prizemoney is up for grabs...
- Thirteen-year-old Kira-Lee Thomas is celebratin...
- It’s true what they say, without generous cattl...
- AUSTRALIA’S top campdrafters and performance ho...
- Walcha ace Carl Green is no stranger to the Ben...