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Bob Hoysted: Race Horse Trainer

The Hoysted family became very well known as racehorse trainers, based in Mentone, for over sixty years. Fred Hoysted, the ĎFatherí of their training enterprises, established his stables in this seaside suburb in 1927, having come to Mentone from Wangaratta. Fred had been a jockey while still at school and won his first race at Bright in 1895 when only twelve years of age. During his late twenties, Fred began as a trainer in partnership with his brother, Henry, in 1911. In 1926 Fred trained a horse that beat the odds-on favourite trained by his brother at Albury, NSW. Henry became annoyed that his champion had lost to a horse trained by his brother. The pair argued heatedly over this event and their training partnership broke up as they went separate ways. Early in 1927 Fred decided to move from Wangaratta and took over stables at Mentone where he began a successful career as a Melbourne metropolitan trainer. Hoystedís Mentone stables occupied a large block north of Balcombe Road in Collins Street, about midway between the railway line and Charman Road. After his move to Mentone Fred Hoysted won the annual trainersí premiership on seventeen occasions. His record included winning twenty flat races for two-year-olds during one racing season, 1953-4. Hoysted also had success with jumpers, winning both the Grand National and the Australian Steeplechase events in the early 1930s. At that time and well into the 1950s he was the leading metropolitan trainer and always attracted the best jockeys for his mounts. Frank Dempsey, Harold Badger and Scobie Breasley, Melbourneís top riders, were very often on Hoysted horses, especially in big races.

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Riding class taken by Bob Hoysted at his father's stable at Mentone c1950. Courtesy Kingston Collection, City of Kingston.

At St Patrickís Catholic Cathedral on 27 October, 1932, Fred who had been widowed, married Mary Elizabeth Brown, a nurse. Fredís first wife, Ellen Dedrick, whom he married in 1913, bore five sons but she died prematurely in 1931. Two of the Hoysted sons later became trainers, emulating their father. Bob and Bon Hoysted had grown up in Mentone with horses constantly around their premises and they would have seen their fatherís gallopers training at Mentone course. Of course they also attended race meetings and shared the thrills of the wins that their father achieved for the owners,

Bob went to Mentone State School and then to Mordialloc High School as he showed academic ability. Mary Hoysted wanted Bob to stay on and do a complete secondary education.

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Pupils and teachers outside Mentone State School c1921. Courtesy Mordialloc and District Historical Society

When Bob was about twelve, in 1938, St Bedeís College opened its doors for the first time and drew many students, Catholic and non-Catholic, away from other local schools, as well as removing the need to travel up the line to inner city colleges. Catholics at the time sent boys to DLS, Malvern, St Patís East Melbourne, Xavier College and CBC St Kilda. St Bedeís was much easier to access. In the case of Bob Hoysted his move from Mordialloc High became the subject of laughter among those who knew the circumstances. In 1938 Bobís mum, Mary, insisted that he enrol at St Bedeís because she believed that at a religious college he would no longer be bothered by other boys asking for racing tips or information about his fatherís runners. Little did she know that St Bedeís had other students with racing connections and a senior class that included boarders who sneaked over to bet with the bookies hidden in the ti-tree scrub close to the pub near the school each Saturday. How Bob handled all this has not been recorded, but his St Bedeís attendance certainlydid not restrict his obvious interest in horses and the racing game.

Bob Hoysted was a student at St Bedeís from 1938 until 1941. He did well academically, and was also good at sport. In his first year at the college he was dux of the Form 2 class (Year 8) and did well at athletics, coming second in the Senior 880 yards race at the 1941 Combined Sports against other Catholic Colleges. The Brothers selected Bob to be College Captain in 1941, the second St Bedeís boy to earn that honour. Bob was a popular senior student because he also provided information to classmates about horse racing each week, being a member of a family whose father was one of Melbourneís top trainers, some said the very best of them. Bob left St Bedeís when he was fifteen and worked around his fatherís stables for the next few years. In 1944 he was old enough for war service and he joined the navy. It was a time when many of his school friends exchanged their blue blazers for khaki or dark blue uniforms and fought in a war that had extended into the Pacific where Australia was under threat from Japanís forces advancing through South East Asia. Bobís naval enlistment is dated 3rd August 1943. He trained at Cerberus naval depot and then was part of the crews on several ships including the Warramanga and the Warrego. Bob was demobbed in February 1946 allowing him to resume work at his fatherís stables.

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Bob Hoysted as a member of the Australian Navy c1944. Courtesy St Bedeís College.

Bob began a period where he was an assistant to Fred Hoysted, then at the peak of a long and successful career. Bob was working with his father when the Hoysted stables had Rising Fast which won the 1955 Caulfield Cup and was unluckily beaten in that yearís Melbourne Cup.

As Fred aged both Bob and his older brother, Bon, took over the business and by the mid-1960s branched out to establish their own separate training establishments. Bob spent twenty years as a metropolitan trainer. He saddled many winners and became one of Australiaís most respected racing figures. From 1985 till 1997 Bob was president of the Australian Trainers Association. For those twelve years he worked passionately for improvements in the industry that would help the people closest to the horses, his fellow trainers. Bob believed that trainers did not receive a fair reward for their devotion to the horses on which the industry depended and his time leading the Trainers Association was spent pursuing that objective. Bob was touched by the many accolades he received when his time at the head of the Association came to an end.

When it came to training methods Bob was willing to do the unusual. At one stage his star performer, Manikato, became frisky and unwilling to settle down in the usual area set aside for the horses in his stables property. Bob moved the horse to an adjacent yard where the chooks were scratching around for food and clucking away as they foraged. Immediately the horse settled down and grazed with the chooks whose role from then on was to be Manikatoís paddock partners. Manikato was a star sprinter. In the late 1970s and early 1980s it won five William Reid Stakes races as well as winning the Futurity Stakes four times along other wins that included the Caulfield Guineas, the Marlborough Cup and the Doomben Cup. As well as the champion sprinter, Manikato, Bob also prepared Rose of Kingston and Sydeston, a Caulfield Cup winner, as well as Heavenly Time, winner of the Goodwood Handicap, a Group One race. There were many more Hoysted successes, too numerous to list. Mentone and district had many years when the Hoysted name was often in the sporting news around the time of the Melbourne Cup and other premium events.

Bob moved to Castlemaine with his wife, Iris, after he retired from training in 1986. Bob and Iris had two daughters, Marilyn and Rhonda. These women would have many fond memories of a man who spent his life with horses and tried hard to improve the working lives of people in the racing industry. At St Bedeís, now a very large secondary college, there is a special place in its early history for Bob Hoysted, a pioneer student and respected member of sporting teams when the college was taking its first steps into the education system. His name is on the honour boards as college captain in the schoolís second year.

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Bob Hoysted, college captain 1941, at St. Bede's College Diamond Jubilee celebrations, with Michael McKeown, college captain 1998. Courtesy Leader Collection, City of Kingston.


Leo Gamble

Category: People
Reference Number: 622
Date Created: 27/10/2015
Date Revised: 23/11/2015

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