Henry 'Boyd' Gageler - A Memorable Life

Henry ‘Boyd’ Gageler was an institution in the Hunter Valley of NSW.


He never envisaged as a child that the country that rolled down to the Goulburn River from the family farmhouse on the hill near Sandy Hollow in the western region of the Hunter Valley would become a major horse stud nor that he himself would have nearly half a century of involvement in breeding and racing.

The country encompassing the farm was developed into a horse stud under the name of Manado in the 1970s by European breeder Souran Vanian.

Subsequently it operated as Collingrove when owned by by legendary South Australian trainer Colin Hayes, as Swettenham Stud under the ownership of English pools magnate Robert Sangster and more recently as Patinack Farm, the failed venture of Nathan Tinkler.

Born in 1922, Gageler died in Muswellbrook in late April two months short of his 97th birthday.

Boyd, as he was widely known, was the only son of dairy farming parents who also looked after a few horses. Like many farmers’ sons, he was put to work on the farm before he was a teenager.

When he left school, Australia was just staggering out of the worldwide economic depression that followed the financial crash of 1929 and which at its peak saw nearly a third of the Australian population of six million out of work.

A major depression relief project, one which young Boyd Gageler worked on, was the building of a railway line from Sandy Hollow to Gulgong in the central west.

Construction included a tunnel through the mountain separating Sandy Hollow and the Bylong Valley which Boyd claimed the distinction of being the first to drive through.

Rejected by the medicos from the service during the 1939-45 war, Boyd acquired a truck and started carrying sand for construction work.

In 1954 he married Muswellbrook born Frances and branched out contract carting coal from the mines while indulging in a passion for breeding and racing by buying a filly by Cape Race, an imported Fair Trial sprinter located at Cliff Duncombe’s Kingsfield Stud in the Scone district. 

Put into training under the name of Silver Cape with Doug Spence at Cowra, but later trained by Boyd at Muswellbrook, she won 25 races including a Corinthian Encourage in Sydney, the Cessnock Cup, Merriwa Cup and Grenfell Cup.

She became the foundation mare on Rosehill, a dairy and horse stud he and Francis northwest of Muswellbrook.

Silver Cape had all her six runners win races. Cape Gauntlet, won at Eagle Farm and Doomben and another, Gendilla, won four and produced four winners  including the Gageler-bred and Sydney sold Stars And Stripes.

He won 11 races, including good sprints in Sydney, and two in America.

Another daughter of Silver Cape Argenta produced Miss Mink, a Skyline filly who won two in Sydney, including the G2 Keith Mackay at Randwick. 

The pride and joy of Fran Gageler was Sovereign Miss, a grey filly by the Grey Sovereign sire Corinto bred at her insistence.

Trained by Boyd, she won16 races, several of them in Sydney including one at 100-1 with an up and coming young jockey Robert Thompson on board.

One of the most brilliant horses bred by the Gagelers was Iga Ninja, a colt sold by them on the final day of the 1987 Easter yearling sale in Sydney.

He was one of the better juveniles of his generation with wins in the Canonbury and George Negus, third in the Skyline Stakes, fourths in the Todman Slipper Trial and Breeders’ Plate and a seventh in the Golden Slipper.

Iga Ninja was by Sylvester, a Biscay sire bred for Stanley Wootton on the Baramul Stud and stood by the Gagelers on their Rosehill Stud.

They bred 10 winners using Iga Ninja’s dam, including progeny of other sires used at their stud Lord Pakistan (Pakistan 11) and Redmead.

Boyd Gageler won many races at both Muswellbrook and Scone, a contribution recognised when he was made a life member of Muswellbrook Race Club on his 90th birthday.

Survived by Fran and their only child Ron, a former leading pony club participant and track work rider for the family stable prior to entering Teacher Training after leaving school.


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