Horse, jockey lit up the course
By MAX GODBEE
BEVERLY Want no longer rides in races but she well remembers her fine career a few years back, particularly her association with the champion local galloper, the well-named Flashing Red.
Beverly was one of the few women jockeys of the time and was just 17 when she became the first lady jockey to win a feature event during the annual July Racing Carnival in Grafton, with victory in the 1983 South Grafton Cup (1600m).
Although able to ride comfortably at 47kg and still a 3kg claiming apprentice Beverly had to ride at the horse's allotted weight of 52kg because of the cup conditions of not allowing apprentice claims.
Beverly took Flashing Red to the front at the 1200 metres, led into the straight and beat Millers Forrest (John Hutchings) by four and a half lengths, with the Stuart Craig-ridden Vibes finishing third in the full field of 16 runners.
No doubt because he was ridden by an apprentice, Flashing Red started at the amazing odds of 20/1, with Millers Forrest at 5/1 and Vibes 10/1. That year Beverly was also the first woman jockey to win a feature race at the annual Inverell carnival, teaming with Flashing Red to capture the 1400m Inverell Cup.
The duo made it two Inverell cups in a row winning again 12 months later.
Beverly was apprenticed to Lawrence trainer Doug Payne who owned Flashing Red in partnership with his wife Mel, daughter Betty Parkes and her husband Erin Parkes.
Doug Payne was a former jockey until increasing weight forced him out of that occupation although he still rode in amateur events.
He was also a coalminer at Newcastle for a while before settling in the Lower Clarence area.
Flashing Red, by Basalt out of Summer Streak, was bred at George Perry's Southgate stud and ideally named, due firstly to his striking chestnut coat and secondly to his flashing front running.
The classy entire won 20 races all up.
Most of the wins were with Beverly Want in the saddle. However, John Hutchings and Peter Stanley also rode Flashing Red for wins before Beverly became the regular pilot.
In fact Stanley was the jockey for race win number one taking out a 1000 metres Maiden Handicap at Casino.
Among Hutchings' wins was the first of Flashing Red's two Casino cups.
In a comparatively short but impressive career, Beverly Want rode her share of winners on a variety of tracks on the Northern Rivers and Tablelands as well as being successful at Newcastle, Wyong and Scone.
One of her major achievements was winning the Northern Rivers Racing Association Apprentices' Premiership with 33 winners.
Her biggest wins, however, were that 1983 victory on Flashing Red in the South Grafton Cup and the Newcastle Labour Day Cup at Broadmeadow track on the same galloper.
As in all her rides on Flashing Red she talked to and encouraged the chestnut entire throughout each race and the horse loved it, responding when she called on him to up the pace or fight back against any challenging horse.
Rider and horse were crowd favourites and received great support from the gallery each time they returned to scale after any of their wins.
Beverly Ann Want was born at Maclean in 1966, the daughter of Cecil and Rita (nee Bradfield) Want.
She has two brothers, Stephen and Neville who while living on the Lower Clarence were each involved in cricket, running and rugby league.
Stephen continued in this vein after moving to Sydney mainly going there for cricket but was soon proving himself in the Sydney rugby league scene as a speedy and exciting winger in first grade with successful Canterbury-Bankstown club, these days known as the Canterbury Bulldogs, and later playing for Western Suburbs.
Neville continued his cricket and football in the Lower Clarence and also helped trainers with trackwork and for a time was a trainer himself.
Their parents still live in the Lawrence area and in days gone by both were good at any sport they played, such as tennis, and were involved in athletics.
They also combined to be successful starting price bookmakers (generally called SP bookmakers) operating from the Lawrence Tavern in the days before TAB outlets were established, when virtually every hotel in Australia featured an SP operator or operators, as a much wanted service to their customers.
Beverly attended Lawrence Public School, then a year at Grafton High, before a final two years at Maclean High.
Her main sports were softball, running and touch football and hockey and she captained the high school's junior hockey team in inter-school competition.
She continued on with touch football in Grafton and Yamba competitions after she left school and was just 15 when she became an indentured apprentice to Lawrence trainer Doug Payne.
Beverly had already ridden trackwork for the Doug Payne stable before and after school during her schooldays.
Doug used the old Lawrence racetrack for his training quarters and the course is still there with the Lawrence golf course in the middle.
Beverly also gained her first winner riding Flashing Red to take out the 1982 PB Judd Farewell Handicap (1600m) at the South Grafton Jockey Club meeting, the final event of that year's July Racing Carnival.
Flashing Red with John Hutchings on top had also won the PB Judd Farewell Handicap the previous year, then with Beverly in 1982 and again with Beverly in 1983, a few days after his South Grafton Cup win, to give him the Farewell Handicap for the third year in succession.
Flashing Red also claimed the champion's rug for Horse of the July Carnival Award in 1981 when John Hutchings was the rider, and then repeated the effort in 1983 when Beverly was the established rider.
Other important wins for Flashing Red with Beverly Want in the saddle were the two Inverell Cups, The Labour Day Cup (1400m) at Newcastle, The Christmas Cup at Grafton as well as the Casino, Ballina and Lismore cups.
Although Flashing Red had to be one of her favourite gallopers, she says another of Doug Payne's stable, Sped, was also high in her esteem.
"He won his share of races although perhaps not the big events that Flashing Red did," Beverly said.
"I appreciated him dearly for, like Flashing Red, he was affectionate, had a big heart and was as game as they come."
It took a while to attract women jockeys to race riding but Grafton was early off the mark with at least three capable young riders, Julie Shepherd, Beverly Want and Jacqui Bennett all performing well.
Beverly gained her share of wins but was still quite young when she retired from race riding.
She was having a baby to then partner Andrew Harrison and they named their young daughter Tegan.
The partnership has since broken up, although the parents remain good friends.
Beverly and partner Rodney Munro currently live with Tegan in Lawrence.
After giving up the racing game Beverly became a bar attendant, learning the trade in serving at the Lawrence Tavern, where she was employed for 17 years.
She describes herself now as on holiday although she does occasional casual bar work for clubs around Grafton.
Fondly she remembers her days in racing, loving the atmosphere and the roar of the crowds and her friendship with the Payne family.
She retains her great love of horses, all breeds but particularly the thoroughbreds.
"I rode some great horses and I am lucky and grateful that Doug Payne apprenticed me and believed in me," Beverly said.
"He gave me good advice and good horses to ride. How many people, particularly a teenage girl, get to ride a much admired local hero and true champion such as Flashing Red or a horse such as Sped?"