My father was not really a betting man, so I was surprised to come across mention of a racehorse called Rimfire in his farm diary for 1948;
Rimfire was a six year chestnut, with unimpressive form ……. and sore legs after a recent (unsuccessful) outing. His usual jockey was unavailable on the day of the Melbourne Cup and an unknown kid from the bush was put in the saddle.
No doubt it was those incredible odds of 80/1 that led my Dad to record the unlikely, narrow win.
It was the first time a photo had been used to decide the winner of the race; Rimfire by a nostril.
15 year old apprentice jockey Ray Neville, received twenty five pounds for his ride. He celebrated by sitting on a bench eating fish and chips for his tea. He bought a new saddle with the prizemoney, but unfortunately it was later stolen.
Rimfire’s win epitomes the magic of the Melbourne Cup. It captured the imagination of a potato farmer in Tasmania, just as it did the entire nation.
Young Ray Neville retired in September 1950 and became a carpenter. However, Rimfire found it harder to give up the thrill of the track. He was retired in February 1950, but refused to accept the decision;
MELBOURNE – Tuesday, May 24 Sydney Morning Herald.
RIMFIRE GETS HIS OWN WAY -Rimfire. winner of the 1948 Melbourne Cup, is back in training because he refused to accept the quiet retirement planned for him earlier this year. Rimfire kept himself fit by racing around the paddock at Mr. H.G Raymond’s Queenscliff property, and a veterinary surgeon suggested he be given further racing.
He is being trained by Stan Boyden at Flemington, where his work includes swimming exercise.
The horse’s glory days were behind him, but you have to admire his spirit!
Many of us are ambivalent about the big race these days, especially after revelations surrounding the treatment of retired thoroughbreds. But, as with most Australians, The Cup is part of my family history. Every year when my siblings and I were growing up we would listen with delight as the hilarious song Beetlebomb was played on ABC breakfast radio. Among our favourite lines were, ‘Chewing Gum, sticking to the rails!’ and ‘Banana in a bunch!‘ ‘
ON A WINNER!
I remember my sister Robbie’s excitement when Even Stevens won in 1962 . Dad had put a couple of quid each way on him for her. And in 1967 I won the office sweep at the Ulverstone Public Works Department on Red Handed, my one and only success.
I’m sure my dad remembered Rimfire’s victory until the day he died.
Would you like to hear a rendition of Beetlebomb? There’s a bizarre intro, but it’s worth waiting? CLICK HERE