Country race meetings have long been a feature of this area. The Plough Inn Cup was one of the earliest trophies presented.
Country race meetings have long been a feature of this area. The Plough Inn Cup was one of the earliest trophies presented. Contributed

Trouble on the track at Dalby races

PAT Sullivan was a Dalby jockey and in 1926 was asked by Pat Ryan to take charge of a Roma racehorse he trained.

Ryan was ill and couldn't bring the horse down for the Dalby meeting where she had been nominated for three races.

Sullivan accepted, as he had a good lad, to look after the mare Double Alliance. He could see the mare was in the pink of condition.

They got to Dalby and won the trial on the first day in easy fashion. Shortly after the race, Sullivan was approached by connections of a mare nominated for the meeting under the name of Scotch Gift. These men said if Sullivan would ride their mare in the trial on the next day they would pay him handsomely.

One of them said: "You think Double Alliance is a good thing again tomorrow, don't you?” Pat wouldn't be drawn but decided to have a look at their mare. The men agreed Double Alliance was a good horse but boasted that Scotch Gift would lap her in the race.

Sullivan decided their horse was a likely looking sort and in good racing condition so he agreed to ride her in a race. He persuaded the owner of Double Alliance to enter her in only one race on the second day of the meeting.

Then things started to happen. There was a sensation as officials from the Gayndah Club inspected Scotch Gift and alleged she was identical with a mare named Miss Mischief, who had won three races at Gayndah a month earlier.

The mare was then seized by the police. They enlisted the professional photographer Tom Whalley, who was taking photos of the winners on the grounds, to take photos of the horse from all angles. Then she was taken and locked in the police yard but that night it was rumoured she disappeared.

The races continued on the next day and Pat Sullivan rode Double Alliance to a win in both races.

That morning he and one reporter decided to go to the police station to see if the rumour was correct. They went to check on the mare and found she was missing. but the lock and chain were still in place. The thief had expertly removed the rails but had taken out the wrong horse so the rumour disclosed, but he returned it and took Miss Mischief and she was never seen again.

Later a man was arrested and charged with taking the mare and also the prizemoney won at Gayndah. The case was eventually fizzled out. The horse could never be found and the photographs were not available.

Whalley the photographer tripped over the door stop at his hotel and all the photographic plates were destroyed.

Sullivan was questioned extensively. Never again did he see the men again who brought the mare to Dalby and always claimed he was innocent of any involvement.


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