LEN Marshall and Pat Hyland had been quibbling for days about the 50th anniversary of the opening of Sandown racecourse. Marshall had been adamant he’d won a race on Betatip; Hyland said he was talking what he was shovelling at his Pyingerra Park stables in Clyde, about 60 kilometres south-east of Melbourne.
Stephanie Jones, who works in PR for the Melbourne Racing Club, resolved the discussion between the brothers-in-law (Marshall is the brother of Hyland’s wife Maree) when she produced a bound black book that housed the racebook from the opening meeting on June 19, 1965. Hyland was right, Betatip finished fifth in the Sandown Stakes won by Samson, who for a time held the record for the most wins at the track - seven.
But Marshall didn’t break stride at such news. He recalled with great satisfaction that Tobacco Leaf - another of his rides on the opening day, which drew 52,379, an attendance that has never been bettered at a horse racing meeting at the venue - had been a wonderful horse to him.
“Won 18 races on him, including the Eclipse Stakes (1964), where I beat Patrick Hyland and Roy Higgins,” Marshall said. “Jockeys weren’t allowed to bet back then either, but my Dad backed it and so did some others and they had a plastic bag filled with money. I bought a new EH Holden and decked out the house from front to back.”
Marshall’s son Simon won the 1990 Eclipse Stakes on Prince Gano, trained by Ross...