Throughout the Cooley family history has run the common thread of being involved with horses.

Thomas Todd and at least two of his sons, John and Charles ran omnibus businesses (in direct competition with each other) and Thomas owned racehorses.

Cooley's Racing Interests

Thomas Todd Cooley owned a racehorse called Swordsman, and it is on record that with this horse the host of Cooley's Hotel won, on the old Moonah course, the first silver cup ever presented in Australasia.
Silver cup It was literally the first Hobart Cup.

The inscription on the silver cup reads "Presented by W. Champion Esq. and won by the celebrated horse Swordsman, the property of Thomas Todd Cooley in 1850".

Read more about this in the article appearing in the Illustrated Tasmanian Mail 1934

This article from The Hobart Courier was copied in April 2003 by Peter and Mary Cooley and has at last answered the questions arising, about just how and where the "Silver Cup" held by Thomas Todd Cooley was won. This report is a wonderful find and proves that persistence (in this case Peter's) wins in the end !

The Silver Cup is now with The Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery in Hobart. It was very kindly donated to them by Ian Morse in April 2006.
You can read Ian's story here

The Racing Fraternity

Cooley's Hotel was the meeting place of the racing fraternity using the nearby Albert Park racecourse. This image shows Thomas Todd Cooley in the centre of a group of men standing on the steps of Cooley's Hotel, they could well be off to the races!
Off to the races?

Many racehorses were stabled at Cooley's even after the racecourse was moved to Elwick. The monthly horse sale at Cooley's saw up to 200 horses auctioned at any one sale. One of the buildings used as a tack shed in those days is still standing behind the present hotel.

Stories of the old days

An amusing story is recounted in the 'Illustrated Tasmanian Mail' article concerning Thomas Todd and one Sam Blackwell. The latter had a hotel at Melton Mowbray, some few miles north of Hobart, and he was also a horse racing man. The two men were close friends and one day at a New Norfolk Cup meeting both had entered a horse in the day's main race. Cooley had "Swordsman" and Blackwell a horse called "Panic". There was keen rivalry between the two men and on this occasion it was Blackwell's horse that won the cup. This was duly presented to Sam who put it in his horse-drawn bus to take back to Melton Mowbray, intending to display it at all the hotels en route. As a joke Cooley surreptitiously purloined and put it in his own bus. When Blackwell stopped at the first hotel to show off the cup to his friends and found it missing he was not amused! The joke was later admitted and the cup, returned but it caused a temporary estrangement between the two men.

The contents of the 'Illustrated Tasmanian Mail article of 1934 were repeated almost word for word in one called "Romance and Racehorses" in 'The Saturday Evening Mercury' of 11 January 1975.

Sam Blackwell and Peter Dallan

Sam Blackwell crops up again in a situation relating to the Cooley succession. He had a maid servant at his hotel called Nancy Gullon. She married Blackwell's head groom and jockey Peter Dallan, signing the marriage certificate with a cross. Peter and Nancy had several children. William and Peter Bernard both became jockeys and rode in India, Singapore and elsewhere for owners such as the Maharajah of Jaipur and the Sultan of Johore. There were also 3 daughters, Margaret Johanna born on 30 July 1865 at Oatlands, Nancy Elizabeth born on 22 September 1869 and Ellen Rosanna born on 25 October 1871, both at Green Ponds..

An excerpt from Blackwell Family pages online at  shows Peter Dallan was Sam Blackwells trainer.

In 1853 Blackwell entered horses in the Town Plate run at New Town. A few years later he decided to import a racehorse from England, and commissioned a Mr. Brown of Hobart Town, to select a suitable one during a visit to the Old Country. Mr. Brown bought Panic while the horse's owner was absent from home, and there was consternation when he found his favourite racer had been sold. However, he agreed to let the purchase stand, and received 1,000 guineas in payment. Mr. Blackwell and his trainer, Mr. Peter Dallan, travelled to Hobart Town to take delivery of the animal from the sailing ship Harriet McGregor, under the captaincy of Richard Copping. However, the horse had been very ill on the voyage out, and was little more than a bag of bones with swollen legs. Brown agreed to keep the horse on his property free of charge for six months. After three months the brown colt was in perfect condition. Panic gained many successes in races, the most notable being when he won the "Championship" of 1865, and ran second in the Melbourne Cup. Then he was turned out to stud, and one of his first stock was Strop who won the Launceston Cup four times.

Memorial Race at Elwick in 2008

A wonderful day was spent by about 60 Cooley descendants and partners in May 2008 at Elwick Race course in Hobart. The occasion was the running of the Thomas Todd Cooley Memorial Cup. Proceeds from the day went toward the Breast Cancer Appeal and patrons were encouraged to wear pink.
Form Guide - TTCooley Memorial Cup

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