Monday 18 June 2018

Leslie G. Rouse - man of the turf

In 1923, "Blairmount" was purchased by Leslie G. Rouse, a well-known racing identity from Sydney. Leslie was born in Mudgee to parents Richard and Mary. His family owned Biraganbil and Guntawang stations at Mudgee, and they had become prosperous through the production of fine wool and beef cattle. Perhaps more important was their reputation as breeders of some of the finest racing and carriage horses in the colony. Their "Crooked R" brand inspired Banjo Patterson when he wrote 'A Bushman's Song', declaring that there were no better horses than those that wore the 'Crooked R'.
Leslie followed in his father's footsteps as a "top notch gentleman jockey" and he rode in amateur races as a young man. He studied to become a solicitor and was admitted in 1894, practicing law in Armidale and Gulgong. In 1897 he was appointed coroner for Gulgong, but his love for horses and horse racing was still a driving force in his life. He resurrected the Gulgong Races in 1899 and acted as handicapper, and was elected as an officer of the Mudgee District Racing Club the same year. The Mudgee Guardian described him as 'a young man with plenty of go'.
Leslie was appointed as a Stipendiary Steward for the A.J.C. (Australian Jockey Club) in 1904, and in order to fulfil this role he sold his Gulgong legal practice. The same year he married Hilda Bowman of Merotherie Station. Leslie devoted himself to the A.J.C. and in 1913 was appointed Keeper of the Stud Book and Registrar of Racehorses. His love of breeding, bloodlines, and racing made him the ideal person for this job, in which he remained until his untimely death in 1928.
Leslie G. Rouse (Photo Sydney Mail 22.6.1927)
Leslie used Blairmount as a breeding establishment for fine thoroughbreds, and he regularly submitted yearlings to the annual Yearling Sales in Sydney. After his death at the age of 58, the stud was dispersed, and the 11 broodmares who had produced beautiful foals for Leslie were sold at the William Inglis & Sons Easter Sale in 1929. Blairmount, perfectly set up for horse breeding, was then sold to Frank Young, who also bred horses, though of a very different type - Clydesdales!

Written by Claire Lynch


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