Harold “call me Jock” Campbell was neither from a racing family nor encouraged in the pursuit – but this did not keep him from a long and successful turf career.
Born in 1901, he was not big as a child and, at 15, he convinced renowned owner Paddy Connolly – who had won the 1905 Melbourne Cup with Blue Spec – to give him a chance as an apprentice jockey.
It was not to be – Campbell grew quickly, forcing him to find new options. He settled on shearing in the state’s north-west. He was good at it but, by the age of 20, his attention again wandered back to horse racing, now with a view to being a trainer.
A career that would span 60 years and know much glory began small. Campbell worked his way around bush tracks, learning his craft, and before long he’d acquired two very smart gallopers in
Sheila Green and Westralia, who between them won 18 races from just 30 outings.
Still in his mid-20s, Campbell decided to tackle the big smoke and with a thoroughbred called Eudamatch, in which he owned a half share, he won a race at Helena Vale. He would win five more with Eudamatch and draw some light to himself. Soon, he was training several more horses and the winners began to flow.
Renewing his ties with Paddy Connolly, Campbell landed a string of betting coups, in particular with a galloper named Escalus, which helped fund Campbell’s growth in the sport.
Relieving the bagmen of their hard-earned was to become a hallmark of Campbell’s career.
In 1928, Campbell prepared the WA Two-Year-Old of the Year Lord Beggar.
The gifted horseman was still just 27 and the youngest trainer in the state at the time but his status as a new star was now fixed in racing’s firmament.
Over the next six years, Campbell would finish second in the WA Premiership three times, before attaining the first of seven in 1935 and his second during World War Two, in 1941. After that,
Campbell joined the war effort, becoming part of the army’s auxiliary horse transport unit, then four more premierships came in the 1950s and the seventh and last in 1963.
Back in 1930, Campbell had purchased stables at Ascot and for 51 years would train from that establishment, until his retirement in 1981.
For that half-century, Campbell’s leading owner was Furza Brady, a former jockey and bookmaker, and for whom he would win a WA Derby and a Sires Produce Stakes with Nicopolis, and a Perth Cup with Kingscote.
That victory, in 1948, saw Campbell and Brady rip some £18,000 from bookies, a result almost unheard of in size. The cost of an average Australian home was around £2000 at the time, so the
Kingscote plunge was worth between $1.5million and $2million in contemporary terms. Campbell won a second Perth Cup in 1969 with redoubtable stayer, Jenark, who ran a race record with top jockey, Frank Treen, aboard. Jenark also won a Kalgoorlie Cup and an Anniversary Cup for Campbell.
Campbell’s one major disruption to his career came in 1957, when stewards disqualified him for a year following the WA Derby win of Nhargo.
To quote Campbell: “The stewards said it was a form reversal, but there was a lot of jealousy involved in our success. There was no way Nhargo was pulled up with nine stone on his back the previous Saturday.”
Aside from the Nhargo debacle, Campbell won WA Derbies with Nicopolis, Little Empire and Pantheist. He won the Railway Stakes with Big Bob and the brilliant mare, Millefleurs, and complementing his Perth Cup wins with Kingscote and Jenark he also ran second in three others, beaten less than a head in all of them.
Campbell also prepped the winners of six Champion Breeders Stakes, three Easter Cups, two Sires Produce Stakes, a WA St Leger and a Karrakatta Plate.
Campbell’s 1969 Champion Fillies Stakes winner, Polo Jane, later birthed Perth and Brisbane Cups winner, Muros.
One last testament to Jock Campbell’s impact and longevity in racing came in 1954. He trained a winning double at Ascot with Boab and All Stakes. He had also trained both the dam and the granddam of both thoroughbreds.
Jock Campbell died in 1988, aged 87, but alive forever in the WA Racing Industry’s Hall of Fame.