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Price, George Richard (1878–1950)

by J. A. Ryan

This article was published:

George Richard Price (1878-1950), horse trainer, was born on 22 January 1878 at Christchurch, New Zealand, son of Henry Thomas Price, hairdresser, and his English wife Mary Matilda, née Johns. He became an apprentice jockey at 14, was a leading rider in New Zealand, then trained racehorses at Palmerston North. In 1917 he enlisted as a private in the New Zealand Medical Corps, serving in the hospital ship, Marama, until January 1919. The prominent owner Edward Moss induced him to move to Sydney in 1922. Price settled into stables, first at Kensington, and then in Prince Street, Randwick. Only 4 ft 11 ins (150 cm) tall, he had a fresh complexion, hazel eyes and dark grey hair.

Price's reputation for skill, patience, and the management and preparation of his horses was assisted by the spectacular win of Windbag in the 1925 Melbourne Cup, followed by Murray King's victory in next year's Sydney Cup. Another of his training triumphs was with Mildura who won the Newmarket (1941) and successive Doncaster handicaps (1940-41). He had the propensity for achieving the unexpected in racing: two of his horses, Warplane and Ballymena, beat the great Gloaming, and his most spectacular 'turnup' was the defeat of the champion Ajax at 40 to 1 on by Spear Chief in the Rawson Stakes in 1939, thus robbing Ajax of equalling a record nineteen consecutive wins.

Renowned for his integrity, Price won the support of such owners as W. J. Smith, Sir James Murdoch, E. J. Watt and J. Spencer Brenton. He led the way in a professional approach to training racehorses, seeking to establish the very best conditions for their accommodation and transport, and the economic management of his stables. Price had a long and successful association with his fellow New Zealander, jockey Maurice McCarten; their many triumphs included the dual trainer-jockey premiership for the 1939-40 racing season.

Price continued to train horses through the restricted period of World War II. In 1946 illness put an end to his career, in which he had trained the winners of practically every race of importance on the Australian turf. These included the Melbourne, Caulfield and Sydney cups, the Australian Jockey Club's Doncaster (four times), the Epsom, Metropolitan and Champagne Stakes, the Victoria Racing Club's Newmarket handicap, both the A.J.C. and V.R.C. Sires' Produce Stakes, and the King's Cup. Price died of cerebro-vascular disease on 6 January 1950 in Prince Henry Hospital and was buried in the Catholic section of Botany cemetery. His wife Alma Elizabeth, née Hilson, whom he had married at Randwick on 12 May 1938, survived him; they were childless.

Select Bibliography

  • Australian Jockey Club Racing Calendar, 1923-46
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 21 Sept 1933, 31 Aug 1939, 7 Jan 1950
  • Sydney Mail, 11 Nov 1925
  • Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 6 Jan 1950.

Citation details

J. A. Ryan, 'Price, George Richard (1878–1950)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/price-george-richard-8108/text14155, published first in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 26 September 2021.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (Melbourne University Press), 1988

View the front pages for Volume 11

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