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Connell, Cornelius Myles (1881–1958)

by Martha Rutledge

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981

Cornelius Myles Connell (1881-1958), jockey, was born on 2 January 1881 at Redbank, Araluen, New South Wales, son of native-born parents Cornelius Joseph Connell, farmer, and his wife Sarah, née Watt; both were champion show-riders. Brought up in the Cooma district, Myles learned his horsemanship helping his father to round up cattle in the high snow leases, like A. B. Paterson's 'Man from Snowy River'. Until he was 18 he rode at Cooma and local bush meetings; he instinctively adopted the crouch style of riding, before the famous American jockey Tod Sloan. In 1899 he went to Sydney and was licensed by the Australian Jockey Club, but got few mounts. Next year he switched to the unregistered 'pony' courses. Over the next six years he became a leading rider and between October 1901 and October 1902 rode 105 winners. On 19 December 1906 in Sydney he married Agnes Mary, daughter of Lewis Kuhn, trainer.

In 1907 the A.J.C. offered an amnesty to 'pony' jockeys and Connell was again licensed in June. By 1910 he had won most of the important 2-year-old races in Melbourne and Sydney. In October 1909 he rode Williamson's Blue Book to a dead heat in the Caulfield Cup. That evening, dressed in the owner's colours, he appeared in a sketch in a Williamson production, The Catch of the Season, at Her Majesty's Theatre. He rode throughout World War I—among his most important wins were the Brisbane Cup, the Queensland St Leger twice and the Randwick Doncaster. From 1917 he rode for trainer F. Williams and won eleven races on Greenstead. His best season was the spring of 1920: he won five feature races including the A.J.C. and Victoria Derbys on Salitros. He rarely used his whip and even in close finishes depended on hands-and-heels riding and 'scolding'.

By 1921 Connell was having weight problems, and that year he visited England. In May 1922 he settled at Glenelg, South Australia, where the climate suited his asthmatic son. He retired in 1924. All his life he had carefully recorded the details of his career: out of 5886 mounts he had ridden 1080 winners, 908 seconds and 742 thirds. He claimed to have made a fortune by not betting, and invested in real estate round Randwick and Clovelly in Sydney. After he retired he was registered as an owner-trainer until 1954 and exercised his horses with his daughter Gwen on Glenelg beach.

Connell was about 5 ft 4 ins (163 cm) tall, handsome, with blue eyes and straight brown hair. Utterly honest, he was a devout Congregationalist and a strict Sabbatarian; he enjoyed bowls and golf. He died at Glenelg on 11 April 1958 and was cremated. Predeceased by his wife and son, he was survived by his daughter. His estate in New South Wales and South Australia was valued for probate at almost £80,000.

Select Bibliography

  • H. Mitchell (ed), Victoria's Greatest Races (Melb, 1924)
  • M. Cavanough, The Caulfield Cup (Syd, 1976)
  • Australasian (Melbourne), 23 Oct 1909, 24, 31 May 1919, 9 Oct, 6 Nov 1920
  • Town and Country Journal, 28 May 1919
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 14 Apr 1958
  • Daily Mirror (Sydney), 18 May 1979
  • private information.

Citation details

Martha Rutledge, 'Connell, Cornelius Myles (1881–1958)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/connell-cornelius-myles-5751/text9741, published first in hardcopy 1981, accessed online 14 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981

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