The life of Brendan McCarthy, a gentleman who made a big impression on Victoria’s racing and breeding scene, was celebrated at his funeral service last Tuesday.
A large congregation farewelled the former Victorian Bloodhorse Breeders Association (now TBV) President and life member at the poignant event held at the Mother of God Catholic Church in Ivanhoe.
It was entirely fitting that the turnout was big.
After all, Brendan seemed to revel in big numbers.
He was one of six children and he and his beloved wife Tess who he married in 1952 raised eight children.
And at one time, Brendan had Victoria’s biggest band of broodmares not to mention a large horde of racing stock.
Brendan’s love for horses began as a teenager in Kyneton, when he acted as the S.P. bookmaker amongst his fellow students at Marist Brothers College!
It was not until 1958 that Brendan purchased his first horse, Just Treasure.
It was noted in the eulogy that when it came to finances, Brendan was known to “prioritise…horses above home furnishings!”
Brendan and Tess’ initial equine property was at Alphington, just five kilometres from Brendan’s office at Collins Street.
During this period, they acquired the fillies Rags To Riches (Ragtime) and Intricate (Showdown) who then went on to become two of Brendan’s favourite racehorses and who also held a special place as broodmares.
1971 marked the beginning of Brendan’s major entry into the breeding industry with the establishment of the 2000 acre Clearview Park Stud at Flowerdale. It would become home to up to six stallions and catering for the operation’s 500 odd breeding and racing stock.
Clearview Park Stud stood stallions of the calibre of French-bred import Rare Pearl (Lyphard) who sired Melbourne stakes winners Bejilla, Pearl Prince, Rare Chance, Spanglet and Stockavion in the 1980s. Also stationed at the stud was Epsom Derby winner Snow Knight (Firestreak).
In 1983 the McCarthy clan moved to Tallarook following the purchase of Landscape and the transfer of Clearview Park to this stunningly beautiful property on the Goulburn River.
All family members were involved with Brendan in the running of the stud, especially Brendan Jnr (now a Caulfield based trainer), Gerard, Laurence and Daniel (now a Wangaratta based trainer).
It was during this time that Brendan became President of the Victorian Bloodhorse Breeders Association. Ted Cockram was Vice President while Tim Stewart was Secretary. All three are now TBV Life members.
The trio along with others including Doug Reid, Leigh Jordan and Les Benton were the drive behind the establishment of the Victorian Owners and Breeders Incentive Scheme (VOBIS).
In a 2013 article about the creation of VOBIS Gold, Racing.com recognised the role of McCarthy and Cockram in particular:
“McCarthy and Cockram had long lamented the lack of incentives for owners and breeders in Victoria, having closely studied those that were available in Europe and North America. After much research and study, they determined the model used in France was the most attractive and set about getting something similar implemented into Victoria.
While they encountered roadblocks initially, McCarthy and Cockram eventually presented to the Victoria Racing Club and gaining the support of the then the governing body in Victoria was when things started to flow.
They eventually gained funding from the government and the first VOBIS bonuses were paid out in the 1987/88 season. In total, $558,080 in bonuses was paid out that racing year.”
Brendan proudly watched VOBIS continue to evolve into a scheme that now pays out to owners and breeders in excess of $10 million a year. It also now includes the $3.1 million VOBIS Gold Premier Race Series and the newly created $1.5 million VOBIS Sires scheme.
Brendan Jnr said his father’s key role in the lobbying the VRC and State Government for the establishment of VOBIS demonstrated his attributes as a visionary.
Following their involvement with the Breeders Association, both Brendan and Ted went on to be long-term committeemen at the Moonee Valley Racing Club.
Brendan’s son Peter would follow in the footsteps of his father becoming Breeders Association President in 1993-94. Fittingly, he was also involved in the creation of VOBIS Extra and Super VOBIS during this time. Brendan Jnr and Daniel are active and successful trainers in Victoria.
But perhaps the greatest legacy of Brendan McCarthy is not VOBIS or the terrific success of his children. It is how he lived his life.
In the eulogy delivered by three of his children Peter, Mary and Daniel, they described him as a true gentleman, a man of integrity, deep faith and strong family values.