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Leonard, William (1831–1926)

William Leonard, n.d.

William Leonard, n.d.

from Pastoral Review, 16 March 1926

A sportsman in the true sense of the word, Mr. William Leonard, whose death occurred at his home, Kenley, Toorak, Melbourne, on 26th February, will be sadly missed by a wide circle of friends. During his seventy odd years of residence in Australia, he has done more than most to promote and keep horse-racing clean. So far as Victoria is concerned, it is doubtful if anybody had a wider experience of the sport, not only as an owner, but also as a committee man.

Born in County Kerry, Ireland, 95 years ago, Mr. Leonard came to Australia in the early fifties, and gained his first colonial experience on the Castlemaine and Moonlight Flat diggings in Victoria. He went to Casterton in 1857, but removed to Ballarat three years later, where, in conjunction with Messrs. Hepburn and Rowe, he founded a stock and station agency business, which became favourably known throughout the Western District of Victoria. About 1870 he went to Melbourne, and made his home there, although he retained interests in the country.

Apart from the stock and station agency business, the late Mr. Leonard had direct connections with the pastoral industry. His first property of any size was Byna Station, in Riverina, which he bought in the seventies and sold some years afterwards to Young and Drysdale. Mr. Young, it may be mentioned, was the general manager of the old Australian, Mortgage, Land and Finance Company Limited of those days.

In 1881 Mr. Leonard went to southern Queensland and took up Welltown Station, then a huge unfenced cattle run, in partnership with Martin Laughlin. They held as much of Welltown as they could conveniently finance, putting it under sheep, with Duncan Sinclair, who subsequently became a partner, as manager. That the partners had ups and downs at Welltown goes without saying. The greatest disaster was in the 1890 flood, when approximately 93,000 sheep were drowned in three days. Mr. Leonard was always an admirer of Belle Vue (Tasmania) blood, and the sheep were of that strain. When the late Hon. James Gibson learned of the loss, he presented the owners with 200 ewes. Mr. Tom Muirhead delivered them to Welltown. The station still uses Belle Vue blood, and is still held by the Leonard family.

Mr. Leonard's connection with horse-racing in Australia dates from his Casterton days. That was in 1857, and he had as contemporaries Adam Lindsay Gordon, Cuthbert Fetherstonhaugh, Robert Learmonth, John and Joseph Pearson, &c. Among the horses he owned when a young man was Woodman, who won two Australian Cups after he parted with him. He was a regular follower of the hounds at Ballarat, Geelong and Melbourne, and a fearless cross-country rider. On one occasion he rode the winner of the Ballarat Hunt Club Cup. He was not very lucky on the turf as an owner, his best win probably being the Caulfield Guineas eighteen years ago, when Master Foote carried his colours to victory.

The late Mr. Leonard was first elected to the committee of the Victoria Racing Club in 1878, and with the exception of a break in 1891, when on a visit to England, he held office until his death. For some years prior to joining the committee, he acted conjointly with the late Hurtle Fisher and Captain Standish in framing the handicaps for Flemington. On three occasions he assisted in revising the rules of racing, while the present Australian weight-for-age scale is the result of his labours.

In the middle "nineties" Mr. Leonard formed a racing partnership with the late Mr. C. M. Lloyd, of Yamma Station (N.S.W.) and the partnership successfully raced such horses as Cobbity, Antaeus, Somniloquist, and Malachite.

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'Leonard, William (1831–1926)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/leonard-william-593/text594, accessed 22 November 2017.

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William Leonard, n.d.

William Leonard, n.d.

from Pastoral Review, 16 March 1926