Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Blacklock, Walter (1862–1935)

by S. J. Routh

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979

Walter Blacklock (1862-1935), trainer, was born on 11 December 1862 at Mount Brisbane Station, Brisbane valley, Queensland, son of Thomas Blacklock, a Crimean War veteran and baker, and his wife Elizabeth, née Devlin. Under the patronage of John Finnie of Rose Vale stud, near Drayton, 'Watty' Blacklock and his brother Richard James (1861-1951) became leading light-weight jockeys on a circuit that extended from Brisbane to Charters Towers and Townsville. Although he rode until 1890, increasing weight reduced Walter's opportunities: his last important successes were the Queensland Cup of 1885 on My Love and next year the Queensland Turf Club Spring Sapling Stakes on Rose; earlier wins included the Queensland Derby of 1882 on Goldfinder, and in 1883 the St Leger on Medusa and the Brisbane Cup on Mozart.

Blacklock married Mary Edith Peak at Drayton with Wesleyan rites on 11 July 1889. He set up as a public racehorse-trainer in stables at Ormond Lodge, bordering Eagle Farm race-course. His early patrons included D. C. Seymour for whom he trained Beggar Boy, a jumper which proved 'a veritable goldmine', and A. C. Sandeman, owner of Babel which won the Stradbroke Handicap in 1895 and 1896. Blacklock's own horse, Yelverton, had won the Brisbane Cup in 1894.

For about twenty years Blacklock was among the leading trainers in Brisbane. Owners liberally commissioned him to buy yearlings; he schooled his two-year-olds early and thoroughly and won the Hopeful Stakes nine times between 1901 and 1914. Among the three-year-old classics he won the 1897 St Leger with Sandeman's Brazenface, the 1898 Queensland Guineas and Derby with D. Beattie's Boreas, the 1900 Queensland Guineas with Beattie's Araxes, the 1902 Queensland Guineas and Derby, the 1903 St Leger with H. Mosman's Balfour, and came first and second in the 1906 Queensland Derby and the 1907 St Leger with J. Taylor's Togo and 'T. West's' Inglewood. High weights and competition from New South Wales horses proved too much for most of his classic winners in the top handicaps, but he still trained the winners of the 1898 and 1902 Stradbrokes, the 1900 Prince of Wales Cup, and the 1906 King's Cup. He won the Queensland Cup in 1906 and 1908 and the 1912 Moreton Handicap.

Blacklock was always ready to take his good horses to the Sydney and Melbourne carnivals but usually won only minor events. Exceptions were the 1908 Doncaster Handicap with Togo and the 1920 Caulfield Futurity with Gold Tie, his best horse of the period, with which he won the 1918 and 1919 Stradbrokes. He trained many winners of the feature events in annual carnivals at Charters Towers, Townsville and Toowoomba. From about World War I his activities diminished and in September 1924 he retired from training, selling Ormond Lodge to A. H. Whittingham. He died at Hendra on 2 July 1935, survived by his wife, two daughters and a son, and was buried in Nundah cemetery with Methodist rites. His estate was sworn for probate at £1698.

Blacklock's career spanned a transition in Queensland racing from highly decentralized irregular meetings, with jockeys and trainers often the retainers of wealthy owners, to an organized industry based on metropolitan tracks with freelance professionals. Small, sturdy and jovial, with a sweeping white moustache, he remained always the quintessential horseman. He failed to learn to drive a motor car, purchased in 1923, which he would try to stop by pulling on the steering wheel and shouting 'Whoa'.

Select Bibliography

  • N. Gould, The Magic of Sport (Lond, 1909)
  • J. L. Collins and G. M. Thompson, Harking Back (Brisb, 1924)
  • Queensland Turf Guide, 1874-75
  • Australasian Turf Register, 1880-1925
  • private information.

Citation details

S. J. Routh, 'Blacklock, Walter (1862–1935)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/blacklock-walter-5262/text8867, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 15 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979

View the front pages for Volume 7

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