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Gloucester Park (GP) entertained its fifth Interdominion carnival in 1957, just four years after the previous one in 1953.


These championships would be determined over three heats of 12 furlongs, 13 furlongs and 2 miles with the Grand Final over 13 furlongs for a prize of £10,000 and total prize money of £18,800. The Interdominion heats were run on Wednesday 20, Saturday 23 and Wednesday 27 February with the Grand Final on Saturday 2 March 1957.

Radiant Venture SA


The championships saw a second straight Perth victory for a South Australian owned horse when relative newcomer to such elevated company Radiant Venture took out the final. Four years earlier, NZ bred Captain Sandy who won his first 15 races including his first Interdominion in Melbourne in 1950 in NZ ownership had prevailed for South Australian interests. Radiant Venture was owned and trained by Max Stephens and driven by his breeder Frank (Digger) Connor, These two gentlemen both ran milk rounds in Port Pirie where Radiant Venture was trained in the evenings. Connor would often work until midday after working through the night prior to floating Radiant Venture to Adelaide to race that evening.


New Zealander Caduceus was installed the 5/2 pre post favourite for the ID’s following his crushing win over several of his ID rivals in the open class FFA over 11 furlongs and 96 yards in a 2:07½MR, last half in 59½, four nights before the opening heats.


Opening night included three West Australian records for 12 furlongs, first by Mineral Spring (winner of first mobile start race in Australia at Harold Park on 2 November 1956 in 2:01.2) toughing out his win in the first heat in a 2:07.0 rate beating Avian Derby’s 1953 record of 2:07¼ (his owners M and T Thomas from Blacktown, NSW were also milk vendors). Radiant Venture comfortably won his heat in which West Australian favourite Beau Don finished second reducing the 13 furlong record time by a further ¼ second to 2:06¾. The final heat of the first night was annexed by local pacer Robert Sheen (a previous winner of WA Pacing Cup), who led all the way defeating Caduceus who reduced Beau Don’s short lived 12 furlong record by ½ second to 2:06¼.

Frosty Nelson second night heat win


Second night victories over 13 furlongs commenced with Caduceus’s hard fought neck victory over Radiant Venture; the remaining two heats were won by local pacers Frosty Nelson (24yds) in a tight finish from Robert Sheen and 50/1 Kiwi Greek Brigade while 10/1 shot Magic Flute (fr) driven by freeman Holmes took the final heat of the second round.


Digger Connor changed Radiant Venture’s gear between the second and third heats using a different set of reins, lengthening his hopples from 58½ to 60 inches and utilising a Perth sulky (as opposed to South Australian one). His purpose was to enable Radiant Venture to stride out fully on the “large” Gloucester Park track compared to 2½ furlong (550m) Wayville Showgrounds track he was used to in South Australia.



Third night heats over two miles saw Frosty Nelson lead most of the way to narrowly win his heat; Radiant Venture paced the quickest two miles in defeating Robert Sheen and Mineral Spring in 4:17½ (2:08¼) to take outright favouritism for the final (6/4); Caduceus aided by a slow early speed and a fall behind him when leading in the final lap, won his heat in a moderate 2:11½.


Heat winners (night 1, 12 furlongs) : Mineral Spring (NSW, 2:07.0), Radiant Venture (SA, 2:07¾), Robert Sheen (WA, 2:08.0)

Heat winners (night 2, 13 furlongs) : Caduceus (NZ, 2:05¼), Frosty Nelson (WA, 2:07.0), Magic Flute (WA, 2:11¼)

Heat winners (night 3, 2 miles) : Frosty Nelson (WA, 2:10.0), Radiant Venture (SA, 2:08¼), Caduceus (NZ, 2:11½)

1957 ID Grand Final


The Grand Final was run on 2 March 1957 before a crowd of more than 30,000. Radiant Venture a little slow to begin settled fifth in the field of eleven for the first half of the race. A lap out Radiant Venture (7/4f) confidently took the lead which he did not relinquish, winning by 8 yards in a rate of 3:26.0/2:06.8, he came his last mile in 2:03½, final quarter in 31 seconds. Robert Sheen was a fast finishing second, just shading local outsider Precipitation (50/1).


Of the remainder, Caduceus did extremely well to finish fourth from 36 yards after a late check, his time of 3:24½/2:05.8 equaling Captain Sandy’s track record from the 1953 Grand Final; Mineral Spring was fifth after boring in and squeezing Frosty Nelson onto Beau Don, Frosty Nelson the loser being checked and falling in this incident.


Final (13 furlongs) :


1st : 6g RADIANT VENTURE (SA), Radiant Robert/Dunella, by Cornella King, family of Maggie Davis (U331); Fr, Max (MG) Stephens (owner/trainer), Frank (Digger) Connor (dr and breeder, SA). Won by 8yds x 3ins, 3:26.0/2:06.8MR

2nd : Robert Sheen (WA), 12 yds, Bernie Cushing (tr/dr)

3rd : Precipitation (WA), Fr, Ron Fletcher (dr), Tom Bell (tr)

Other starters in finishing order : Caduceus (NZ), Mineral Spring (NSW, Magic Flute (WA), Jack Oro (WA), Beau Don (WA), Greek Brigade (NZ), Modulation (SA), Frosty Nelson (WA)


Consolations :

1st heat : Bessie’s Lad (WA), 2:09.0), Jack Roberts (dr)

2nd heat : Aflame (WA), 2:08.0, Fred Kersley Snr (dr)
Notable points from the championship;

  1. a) West Australian father and son combination of Fred Kersley Snr (tr/dr of Jack Oro, seventh in final) and Fred Kersley Jnr (tr Magic Flute finished sixth in hands of Freeman Holmes) were trainers of two Grand Finalists. Fred Seniors brother Frank Kersley drove Caduceus into fourth for NZ trainer Jack Litten
  2. b) The occupation of milk vendor was prevalent among connections at 1957 Perth ID‘s – Radiant Venture’s owner and trainer Max Stephens and breeder and driver Frank (Digger) Connor had milk rounds in Port Pirie; Mineral Spring’s owners M and T Thomas from Blacktown, NSW were also milk vendors
  3. c) Broadcasting rights to the ID’s were limited by WATA officials banning broadcast of the ID heats Australia wide as a measure against illegal SP bookies. The only live broadcast on ABC radio was the last race each night which was an ID heat, however this was well after midnight Eastern Australian time. The ABC were allowed to broadcast the Grand Final, the fifth race, run at 10pm Perth time was midnight in the Eastern States. The TAB was subsequently introduced in WA in 1961
  4. d) Globe Derby’s influence continued with five finalists having him somewhere on their sire or dam line – the first three home plus Mineral Spring and Modulation which meant Globe Derby had a hand in four heat wins and the Grand Final trifecta
  5. e) A future ID Grand Final winner appeared at these Perth ID’s – being Caduceus at his sixth attempt (1960 Sydney)


Radiant Venture – Grand Final winner –


RADIANT VENTURE (1950g Radiant Robert/Dunella), 2:06.7, three ID heats and Grand Final, Hunter Cup, several Wayville FFA’s


Breeding : Radiant Venture was a colonial bred horse having no imported sires or dams in his first three generations. He was by a grandson of Globe Derby, Radiant Robert (Robert Derby/Ellen Mary – noted foundation mare who was a granddaughter through her sire [Maori Land] of Ribbonwood and great granddaughter through her dam [Ridge’s mare] of Childe Harold; Ellen Mary was dam of Radiant Walla, VIC/NSW Derbies).


Robert Derby

Robert Derby, the best horse bred by AG Hunter was sold for 525 guineas at Hunters dispersal sale on 22 February 1927, winning the Victoria Derby for WJ O‘Shea and after early retirement due to injury, left 281 winners including Lawn Derby (first two minute pacer in Australasia, sire of Ribands, Avian Derby); multiple Derby winners by Lulu Love in Admirer (four), Amorous (SA Derby, Hunter Cup); Bobby Linden (SA/VIC Derbies); Gentle Bobbie (NSW/VIC Derbies); Recovered (three heats/twice second ID Pacing Finals); Uncle Joe and dam sire of Richmond Lass (VIC/SA/NSW Oaks, ID Pacing Final).


Radiant Robert’s (SA/VIC Derbies) 335 winners included Claridge (USA Cornell Memorial), Fiery Land/Fiery Miss/Mister Chips (SA Derby), Merchant (SA Derby, Hunter Cup), Radiant Fortune (WA Cup), Rotorian (VIC Derby) and dam sire of Carclew (ID Pacing Final).


Radiant Venture’s dam was the unraced Cornella King (2:17.0) mare Dunella who apart from Radiant Venture left winners Ricky Ray and Dunrobin Girl who bred on as well as broodmares Dunellas Daughter (4th dam of Area Code, VIC/NSW/AUS Derbies, NSW SS – 3, AUS Pacing Championship; 6th dam of Clever Tune, NSW SS – 2f) and Lady Canaveral (grand dam of Guvs Pride, West End Cup). Cornella King’s family (Fair Nell A13) is notable for trotters Game Ebony, Downsouth Clare, Trappers Salute, Will Trapper, Clares Brother and 1970 ID Pacing winner Bold David.


Radiant Venture’s family Maggie Davis (U331) contains just the two Group One performers – Radiant Venture and Area Code.

Radiant Venture


Radiant Venture was a big black gelding, measuring 16.1 hands who cost £150 to purchase as a two year old and proceeded to conduct his racing career from Port Pirie, South Australia. At the time of the Perth ID’s, he had raced on thirty nine occasions for twenty nine victories, only unplaced on four occasions winning twenty three of his last twenty four starts, eighteen of them in succession in South Australia between 1955 – 1957 (Australasian record until bettered by Aachen 20, then Lucky Creed with 24 and San Simeon with 29).


Following Perth, Radiant Venture went on to record victories at Harold Park before winning the 1958 Hunter Cup, one heat of the 1958 Adelaide ID’s (fifth in final) and numerous further SA feature races later in his career.






Peter Craig


27 November 2017




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