VOBIS pioneer Douglas Reid OAM passed away peacefully on Tuesday. He was 79.
Reid was also a long-serving VRC committeeman from 1978 to 2006 and he represented the Club on the Australian Stud Book and Racing Appeals Board. He was also Chairman of the VRC Marketing & Program Committee.
“Doug Reid leaves an indelible mark as an administrator in this State,” Racing Victoria chief Bernard Saundry said. “He made a significant contribution across many levels.
“We have lost a visionary and true gentleman.”
Reid owned St John’s Lane at Toolern Vale for almost 30 years after buying it from John Piper in 1971. He bred and raced champion mare Maybe Mahal (Maybe Lad) who was crowned Australian Horse of the Year in 1978.
The Bart Cummings trained sprinter-miler won that year’s Newmarket Hcp with top weight and the only other mare to win Australia’s premier sprint carrying the No.1 saddlecloth has been Black Caviar.
Maybe Mahal could just as easily gone to stud as a spring three year-old. “She got loose from her handler and bolted into the Members car park at Flemington,” Reid recalled years later. “Her hip was badly injured and the vets suggested she should be retired.
“Instead, we gave her a long spell and she came back much stronger around the hindquarters. She was a indeed a champion but, when she finally went to stud, never threw any good gallopers.”
Reid’s family had operated quarries north of Coburg and, in 1968, they sold out to Pioneer Concrete which was owned by Sir Tristran Antico. Doug bought a property at Bulla and installed the Star Kingdom sire Rajah before the move to Toolern Vale three years later.
Reid stood several stallions at St John’s Lane starting with Maybe Lad (Coronation Boy). Besides Maybe Mahal, he also sired top-class miler Magari.
Florida Derby winner Ridan (Nantallah) stood one season at Toolern Vale and, from just 15 foals, he sired 1979 Maribyrnong Trial winner Lady Gramar for Blue Gum Farm founder Graham Campbell.
In the 1980s, St John’s Lane was home to the stakes-producing stallions Ruling (Bold Ruler), Jackson Square (Biscay) and Atlantic Flyer (Bletchingly).
The showpiece property also had a tennis court – Doug had been a successful player in his youth and had competed at Wimbledon.
St John’s Lane was visited by many racing identities including the Aga Khan and a paddock was named in his honour.
Reid’s own legacy lives on through VOBIS. Owners and breeders will continue to reap the rewards thanks to his foresight in helping to establish the Scheme back in the 1980s.
– Karl Patterson