Saturday’s Listed Raconteur Stakes at Belmont is named in honor of one of the greats of Western Australian racing and a Racing & Wagering Hall Of Fame inductee two years ago.
Foaled in the Spring of 1949 at Perringa Stud, owner and breeder and WA Racing Hall of Fame Inductee (2014) Sheila Gwynne remarked to her daughter Sally that Raconteur was a champion racehorse on the day he was born.
How true were those words for Raconteur as he rose to be a champion three-year-old winning the 1952 WA Guineas, WATC Derby and the 1953 Perth Cup.
He went on to win the Belgravia Stakes, Winterbottom Stakes and Strickland Stakes, and astonishingly won ten races straight including the Perth Cup.
Raconteur was the result of Gwynne’s meticulous mating of her mare Jolly Imp (Olympian-Jolly Girl, by Jolly Beggar) with the stallion Remarc (Marconigram-Revere, by Heroic).
Warmly known by his stable name as “Joe” Raconteur possessed a gentle nature, which is not the norm for a colt-cum-stallion. So gentle was Raconteur that the studmaster’s children were often found playing with the stallion in his paddock. In addition to his lovely nature, Raconteur was such a beauty that he won Champion Thoroughbred stallion twice (at two entries) at the Perth Royal Show.
He was trained by the great Eddie Spencer and ridden by the champion jockey Eric Treffone, who was the older brother of leading trainer Reg Treffone, who prepared Aquanita, another great WA racehorse.
He won the 1953 Villiers Stakes at Randwick, ridden by turf legend Neville Sellwood and trained by Phil Allotta, and won the 1955 VRC CM Lloyd Stakes at Flemington with Ron Hutchinson in the saddle.
Remarkably, Raconteur returned from a tendon injury to win at the elite level in Melbourne, and as a true testament to his tenacity he also returned from a season at stud to race again.
Despite early struggles to attract broodmares to what was considered a “home-bred” stallion, Raconteur’s first feature winner came by way of Thompson’s Bay in the 1961 Belmont Park Cup, soon followed by Activity in the 1962 WA Oaks.
Pipped at the post by just one race season by stablemate stallion Indian Conquest, Raconteur became the second WA sire to produce the winners of a million dollars in prize money.
He sired a flood of Stakes winners through Dinna Tell in the 1963 Champion Fillies Stakes; Sweet Saga in the 1964 WA Oaks and Railway Stakes; Baccare in the 1965 WATC Derby, WA Guineas and Belgravia Stakes; Muette in the 1965 Champion Fillies Stakes; 1966 WA Oaks and WA St Leger; Nanna Tale in the 1964 Karrakatta Plate and 1965 WA Sires Produce and Norval Boy in the 1963 WA Guineas, 1965 Lee-Steere Stakes and two WATC Plates (1963-64).