Unfortunately, Barysh Quest fell a rung short of taking out yesterday’s $100k Tasmanian Derby-LR in Hobart, but the ultimate victory of Methuselah proved to a fitting legacy for one of the industry’s greats.
Methuselah was bred by the late and VERY great Bertram Wicks (left) who served for many years as the Tasmanian rep on the committee of Thoroughbred Breeders Australia and wrote a number of books on breeding and racing.
Bert was one of nature’s gentlemen who selflessly put his shoulder to the wheel for the betterment of Australian breeding and, despite hailing from a state which struggled for recognition on a national scale, he remained a beacon of bipartisanship. A great man.
Fittingly, Methuselah is by Savoire Vivre, a stallion based at Tasmania’s leading farm, Armidale Stud, which is owned by the Whishaw family.
Indeed, Armidale was owned by the late Denis Whishaw and is now run by his wife Robyn.
Hoofnote: You’d have to almost be as old as Methuselah to remember it, but Bert was the breeder of 1972 Melbourne Cup winner, Piping Lane (below) who won the big one at the odds of 40/1.
South Australian jockey J0hn Letts was having his first ride at Flemington and evidently told the media, Piping Lane was only there to make up the numbers!
Bert, who stood Piping Lane’s sire Lanesborough, once told me that during the Tasmanian fires of 1967, the blaze surrounding his property was that bad he was left with the sole option of throwing the gate open to Lanesborough’s yard and letting the stallion “run for his life”.
Those fires would claim 62 lives and, according to Bert, there wasn’t a fence post standing by the time it had run its course.
Fearing the worst, Bert got a pleasant surprise a few days later when he saw Lanesborough walking – very gingerly – across a paddock.
As Bert recalled: “The frogs of Lanesborough’s feet were badly burned and to prove just how close the fire got, there wasn’t a single hair left on his testicles!”