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Chaffey, Benjamin (Ben) (1876–1937)

One of the most widely known personalities on the Australian Turf, and one of its most capable administrators, Mr. Benjamin (Ben) Chaffey, chairman of the Victoria Amateur Turf Club, died at his home, Woodlands, Oaklands Junction, yesterday afternoon. Mr. Chaffey had been in ill health for some time.

A son of the late Mr. George Chaffey, he was born at Kingston, Canada, in 1876. He was brought to Australia in 1886 by his parents, and, with his uncle, Mr. William Benjamin Chaffey, who afterwards became Mayor of Mildura, the family settled in that town. Mr. G. Chaffey and Mr. W. B. Chaffey were the pioneers of irrigation in Victoria. Mr. Benjamin Chaffey soon became interested in sheep, and it was not long before he acquired property. The first station he bought was Murrara, but he purchased many others in later years.

Mr. Chaffey married Miss Cowra Crozier, a sister of Mrs. Arthur Crozier and of Mrs. Hurtle Pegler, and a member of a leading pastoral family. In the years of the war invaluable patriotic work was done by Mr. and Mrs. Chaffey. Mr. Chaffey also assisted greatly in the repatriation of returned soldiers immediately after the war.

Mr. Chaffey was chairman of directors of United Distillers Pty. Ltd, a director of Goldsbrough, Mort, and Co. Ltd., and managing director of Manfred Pastoral Company. He was a member of the Australian Club and many racing clubs.

As a young man Mr. Chaffey developed a fondness for the thoroughbred race horse, and later he had a great deal of success on the Turf. He owned horses from 1890 onwards, but probably the first important race which he won was the Adelaide Grand National Hurdle with Stagefright in 1920. He owned another useful jumper in Percolator, and raced Rawdon with success before selling him to the late Mr. A. Miller, for whom he won the Grand National Hurdle Race. In 1922 Whittier, owned by Mr. Chaffey, ran second in the Caulfield Guineas, and he followed that performance by winning the Caulfield Cup a week later. Whittier repeated his cup victory in 1925, and Manfred was successful in 1926. Whittier and Manfred were Victoria Derby winners in 1922 and 1925 respectively. The V.R.C. St. Leger was won by Mr. Chaffey with Caserta in 1923, and Accarak won the Australian Cup in 1924. Ninbela won the V.R.C. Oaks Stakes in 1927, and a year later Burnaby won the Adelaide St. Leger.

Mr. Chaffey was keenly interested in the conduct of racing, and on the retirement of Mr. James Grice in 1930 he was elected chairman of the Victoria Amateur Turf Club. In the last few years his health declined, and he was not able to maintain a full interest in his own horses. He was the owner, however, of Aldershot, a promising two-year-old, at present leased to T. Byrnes, A man of considerable vision, Mr. Chaffey was popular with many friends and acquaintances. Not liking life in the city, he built a large house at Woodlands, with a view of the Dandenong Ranges, in which he lived for many ycars.

Mr. Chaffey has left a widow and a married daughter, Mrs. Albert Campbell, also of Woodlands.

The funeral of Mr. Chaffey at the Bulla Cemetery this morning will be private.

The chairman of the Victoria Racing Club (Mr. H. Alan Currie) said last night that news of Mr. Chaffey's death had come to him as a great shock. "We feel that the Turf has lost one of its best administrators," Mr. Currie said. "During the time of his chairmanship of the V.A.T.C. he always co-operated with the V.R.C. In any movements for the improvement of racing generally, and his advice was always of the greatest value."

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'Chaffey, Benjamin (Ben) (1876–1937)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/chaffey-benjamin-ben-1400/text1399, accessed 18 September 2019.

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