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Abbey legend to be honoured at Campdraft Carnival

Organisers and supporters AT A MEETING IN APRIL THIS YEAR AT THE NARRABRI SHOWGROUND: Back, Narrabri Mayor Cr Conrad Bolton, Ross Clarke (Barradine), Maurice O’Neil (Kempsey), and Ken Flower (North West Local Land Services, Narrabri), front, Chris Clarke (Barradine), Max Batterham (Kempsey), Phillip Kirkby (Narrabri) and Graham Clarke (Kempsey).

Legendary stockhorse stallion, Abbey, and the two horsemen who forged his success will be honoured at a campdraft carnival at Narrabri Showgrounds this weeken (September 4, 5 and 6).

The ‘Abbey Dynasty Campdraft Carnival’ will be open only to descendants of the great sire and offer more than $20,000 in cash and prizes.

The event is one of the first of its kind and has received in excess of $23,000 in cash sponsorship.

All proceeds raised this weekend will be donated to pancreatic cancer and dementia research.

The carnival follows the recent death of Theo Hill, who stood Abbey on the historic Comara Station near Kempsey. Friends and associates of Mr Hill got together after his passing and decided to have a public tribute honouring his immense contribution to the stockhorse world.

Under Mr Hill’s management, Abbey sired a string of campdraft, showjumping and polocrosse champions that pushed the Australian Stock Horse Society stud book to an unbeaten 60,000 descendants.

But the Abbey story goes back to the late Macleay Valley horseman, Harry Ball.

“Abbey came about because Harry set out to breed a champion campdrafter,” said local horseman Maurice O’Neill.

“He knew the bloodlines he reckoned would work and he was right on the money.”

Abbey won 23 campdrafts including the Duke of Gloucester Cup at Sydney’s 1964 Royal Easter Show before Harry died in a tragic road accident near Frederickton that same year.

“Harry’s wife Coral couldn’t see Abbey competing without Harry in the saddle so she asked longtime friends Theo and Bonnie Hill to take him across to Comara,” Maurice explained.

This is where Abbey’s true brilliance was to be realised, because over the next 20 years until his death in 1982 the jet black stallion produced some of the best campdraft, showjumping and polocrosse horses in this part of the world.

Abbey’s breeder is also remembered in the Harry Ball Memorial Open Trophy at the annual Willawarrin Campdraft.

Ironically, Abbey escaped the castrator’s knife in his earlier years.

A descendant of the great 1890s sire Cecil, he was initially considered too inbred because his parents Radiant and Joys Pal were brother and sister.

“It was a rare situation where inbreeding seemed to work some amazing magic,” Mr O’Neill mused.

The Abbey Dynasty Campdraft Carnival will offer six campdraft events open to men, women and youngsters. Also included will be led classes and a polocrosse exhibition.

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