A family?s July Carnival coincidence
By TONY WHITE
TAMWORTH cattle breeders and racehorse owners Hugh Munro and his wife Juliet have attended the historic July Racing Carnival in Grafton for the past 35 years.
However, this year's carnival provided a touch of nostalgia for the Munro family.
Hugh and Juliet Munro, who also own a house at Minnie Water, share partnership in a threeyear-old gelding named Hifilante which won a race on Ramornie Day. Hifilante is trained at Quirindi by Scott Thompson.
Fifty years earlier, Munro's father Gordon was the toast of Grafton when another three-yearold, Trovatore (1955) ridden by CD 'Skeeter' Kelly, won the first of his two Ramornie Hcps. The gelding also won the following year with Kelly again in the saddle.
"It wasn't until after Hifilante's win that I realised it was 50 years ago at the same meeting that Trovatore won the Ramornie," Hugh Munro, 64, said.
"Trovatore backed up the following day and got beaten a head on a bog track by dad's other horse, Pembroke, in the Grafton Cup.
"Skeeter had the choice of rides in the Cup and when he stuck with Trovatore, Noel McGrowdie was booked for Pembroke."
Trovatore and Pembroke were both trained by Lionel Govers.
Sadly, Kelly and McGrowdie, who holds the record of four Grafton Cup wins, both died as a result of race falls.
Munro, whose family settled in the Bingara region in the 1850s, recalled Trovatore was purchased as a yearling in Sydney and Pembroke as a tried horse from VJ Byrnes of Manilla. The pair were trained on a sandy bend of the Gwydir River at the family property, 'Keera'.
"My grandfather, Hugh Robert, won a Doncaster with Sir Christopher (1931). Juliet and I have only had moderate success. It would be a dream come true to one day win a Ramornie or Grafton Cup," Munro said.