About Dr Bob Jemison
I loved going to the race track from an early age but my thoughts never focused on becoming a breeder and owner. My grandfather Percy Duncan took me to Cheltenham Racecourse in South Australia. He frequented the course quite often. He had quite a thing for Victorian riders and horses-“They don’t come here for nothing” was his favourite saying.
The Christmas Handicap was held on Boxing Day and the Port Adelaide Cup was on the 28th A public holiday in South Australia. My earliest memory of those events was Cellarman winning the Port Cup. I was 5 at the time and this was the first of many Christmas Carnivals he took me to. I was also there in 1961 when Tulloch won the S J Pullman Stakes to become the first horse in Australia to pass the 100,000 pounds ($2000,000) stake earnings mark. To get there I and my friend Jim Miers had to walk from home. We crossed the railway tracks at the back of Holden’s factory. Next under the fence at the 5 furlong barrier start. It was then a walk to the straight to the 9f 69 yard start. To see such a Champion, it was worth the time.
When the Government were set to sell the racetrack, I wrote a Letter to the SA Government pleading for them to reconsider and John Letts gave a passionate speech at a public meeting at the Woodville Town Hall in support. But all to no avail –unless it is election time governments have no inclination to listen to the wishes of the public.
Why I Love Oakbank
Grandpa also had great affection for the Easter meetings at Oakbank racecourse. He once owned the Great Eastern Hotel at Littlehampton which was the closest pub to the track. Unfortunately the Great Depression wiped him out but his love for Oakbank remained. The first winner I remember was Royal Pentzia. I have a vague recollection that this horse started in a Melbourne Cup and went out with a huge lead before stopping to a gentle trot –but I might be mistaken.
Later it was a great thrill for me as a breeder and part owner of Nishiazabu who had three starts in the race. However, the best he could do was a second. But he got a nomination for Horse of the Year in 2016.
Racing Around The World
I maintained my interest in racing when I studied in England and attended a number of great races. Ribero in the St Leger at Doncaster in 1968, and Highland Wedding in the Grand National at Liverpool in 1969. I met up with Steve Roman, a fellow organic chemist, and he told me of his interest in horses. This is set out in his excellent book DOSAGE Pedigree and Performance published in 2002. In 1970 I returned to Australia armed with a BSc in Biochemistry and Honours, and a PhD in Organic Chemistry and joined a Chemical Company. At one point I ended up running an animal health business!
Race Club Administration and Travel
I moved to Ballina on retirement and did a lot of travel. I was able to attend some exciting race meetings overseas and met some wonderful people. Two Kentucky Derbies, the last Hollywood Gold Cup, Irish Derby, Chester Cup and visits to Singapore racing were all wonderful times.
There came an offer to join the Board of the Ballina Jockey Club and I was only pleased to accept. After seven years, two as Chairman, I was sacked with the rest of the Directors when the Club ran out of money. The financial problem was due to the Club’s inability to race on more than 50% of its meetings. Wet tracks meant no racing and no income. All the time I was a Board member and many years prior, the NSW racing authorities were always promising to upgrade the track. A new track, especially a Strath-Ayr surface would mean the Club could race on 100% of programmed race days not 50%. It was inevitable that with little income at some point the Club would no longer be able to continue operating. The Directors might have gone but the track has not been renovated and meetings are still abandoned..
Before I became a breeder owner, in 2000 I partnered with others to buy and race horses. My initial steps were only moderately successful. Some did win races but were not up to city standard and they were far from self-supporting. There is enjoyment in racing horses as a member of a team (syndicate) and the social interaction is rewarding. However, as I learned more about pedigrees and racing, and the role of a breeder and owner, the more it seemed to make sense to breed and race my own. I have had a winner in every Australian State except Western Australia.