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Septimus Miller (1850–1925)


NOTED RACING MAN. 40 Years on V.R.C. Committee.

Racing men throughout Australia will regret to learn of the death of Mr. Septimus Miller, which occurred shortly before midnight on Sunday, at his home, Cantala, Dandenong Road, Caulfield. Mr. Miller was born in 1850, and was the second youngest and seventh child of the late Mr. Henry Miller, M.L.C. Only one brother survives—Sir Edward Miller—and one sister, Lady Wrixon, widow of the late Sir Henry Wrixon, a former President, of the Legislative Council. Brothers and sisters who predeceased him were Mrs. Aubrey Bowen, Mrs. Bancroft, wife of General Bancroft; Mr. Albert Miller, with whom he was associated in many of his earlier turf successes; and Messrs. W. H. Miller, the eldest, and Arthur Miller, the youngest, of the family. Mr. Septimus Miller was born in George street, Fitzroy, and educated at the Melbourne Grammar School. Up to the time of his father's death in 1888, he was acting as manager of large stations at Kulkyne and elsewhere in the Riverina. For the last 37 years he had been engaged in the management and control of the inherited properties. He married Miss Clara Bell, daughter of the late Mr. James Bell, of Geelong; who died 15 years ago. He married in February, 1912, Helen Muriel, daughter of the late Mr. John Henderson of St. Kilda, a former inspector of the Colonial Bank. He leaves a widow and one son, Damian, 10 years of age.

By the death of Mr Miller the Victoria Racing Club has lost one of its most valued members. For 40 years he had been a committeeman, having been elected in the 1884- 85 season. From 1894-95 to 1905-06 he was chairman, and it was mainly, owing to his sound business knowledge that the club weathered the financial storm following the burst of the "land boom." For each of the four Melbourne Cups run in the years preceding Mr. Miller's chairmanship, the Cup stakes had been £10,000, but in 1894 the prize was reduced to £5,000, and in later years fell as low as £3,000. But sound administration of the finances enabled the club to surmount its difficultics, and before Mr. Miller resigned from the chairmanship the club had been placed in so strong a position that stakes were once more on the upgrade, and the club has continued to make remarkable progress. In 1919 the V.R.C. instituted the Cantala Stakes, the name (that of Mr. Miller's residence in Dandenong Road) being given in honour of thc veteran committeeman. Mr. Miller presented a gold cup, value £100, as a trophy in the inaugural year, and it was a coincidence that the winner should be the four-year-old Chal, a rank outsider, bred by Mr. Miller, but sold by him after the colt had won as a two-year old and three-year-old. Another coveted trophy presented by Mr. Miller was raced for at the V.R.C. June meeting in 1910. Owing to the death of King Edward the V.R.C. discarded the usual titles for the June races, and the York Hurdle was superseded by the Redleap Hurdle Race, in memory of Mr. Miller's famous horse. From his early youth Mr. Miller had been an enthusiastic lover of horses and racing. He was particularly an admirer of steeplechasers and hurdleracers. It was with such horses that he gained his greatest turf successes. With Redleap, generally regarded as the greatest performer ever seen over obstacles in Australia, he won the Grand National Hurdle Race in 1889. In 1892 Redleap won both the Grand National Hurdle Race (with 11st. 12lb.) and Grand National Steeplechase (with 13st. 3lb.), following those successes up with the Caulfield Grand National Steeplechase, carrying the crushing burden of 13st. 12lb. over the four miles. In 1889 Mr. Miller had also won the Grand National double, Eaglet winning the Steeplechase. With Hayseed he won the Grand National Steeplechase in 1900, the gelding having a few days previously won the Maiden Steeplechase. With Realgar he won the Caulficld Grand National Steeplechase. Realgar was ridden by M. Mooney, who was fatally injured while riding Mr. Miller's Colenso in the Neerim Steeplechase at Caulfield on May 6, 1905. Greatly distressed by the death of his favourite jockey, Mr. Miller did not have his colours carried on the Turf for some time. His well-known jacket (red, red and white sleeves and cap) was not used on a jumper for more than 10 years after the death of Mooney, but in 1917 Pinon, bred by Mr. Miller, won several steeplechases for him. Most of the noted horses raced by Mr. Miller were bred either by him or his brother, Mr. Albert Miller, who died on June 1, 1915. Among the horses they raised were Redleap, Whernside (V.R.C. Autumn Steeplechase, 1898), Mernder, The African, and Slatin. One of the best flatracers owned by Mr. S. Miller was Preston, with whom he won the Moonee Valley Cup, 1894, and V.R.C. St. Leger, 1895. At Cantala Mr. Miller usually had a few of his blood stock, one of the horses to pass his yearling days there being Chal. Very rarely did Mr. Miller miss a race meeting at Flemington, Caulfield, or any of the Melbourne metropolitan courses, but one Melbourne Cup race he did not witness was that won by Poseidon in 1906, Mr. Miller taking a trip to England in that year, the holiday being well earned by his splendid efforts as chairman of the committee. For a long period Mr. Miller's horses were trained privately at the Redleap establishment, Mill Park, trainers in charge there at various times including the late Humphrey Bellamy, J. H. Slade, and E. Nelson. During recent years, however, his horses have been trained by J. Curr (Caulfield), H. W. Gabell (Caulfield), and A. E. Foulsham (Aspendale). This season Mr. Miller's two-year-old filly Bonnie Wynne (trained by Curr) has been successful, as has Tutto Nero (trained by Gabell). Tutto Nero raced at Sale yesterday. Mr. R. M. Cuthbertson, who manages for the Messrs. Miller, endeavoured to get into communication with the officials at Sale, but owing to the public holiday the post-office was closed.

Original publication

Citation details

'Miller, Septimus (1850–1925)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 24 May 2024.

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