Sport

JJ Atkins made his mark

Jim Atkins portraits from throughout a celebrated training career which began in Grafton. PHOTO: APN
Jim Atkins portraits from throughout a celebrated training career which began in Grafton. PHOTO: APN

FROM April 3 this year, The Daily Examiner will be counting down the 100 days until the running of the 100th Grafton Cup on July 11.

The list of past winners is sure to include many great local stories from the rich history of the Clarence River Jockey Club, but there is perhaps no greater success to be unearthed than that of the Atkins family of South Grafton who won the 1931 cup with Verdonia.

Trained by Bill Atkins, and ridden by one of his son's (either Alby or Ambie, depending on what the initial A stands for in the record books), Verdonia scored at odds of 8-1, a healthy boost for local punters in the depression years.

But it was Bill Atkins' premature death from a heart-attack which launched the career of one of the greatest trainers to have ever saddled a horse in Australia.

Another of Bill's 12 children, Jim aged 20, was forced to take out his own trainer's licence upon his father's sudden death, and was promoted from strapper to trainer overnight.

But the task didn't daunt the young man, and after five years refining his father's methods in Grafton, he heard a chance remark that would change his future.

At the time it was believed that a trainer could never win the Brisbane trainer's premiership based outside of the city, and upon hearing such a conversation between fellow trainers, Atkins packed up and moved to Toowoomba where he set about proving them wrong.

JJ, as he was affectionately known, opened his account with a number of prolific winners, including Peacetime and Gay Composer each of which won 18 races, and Sumarco which won six in a row at the old Albion Park track.

After moving to Toowoomba in 1943, Atkins finally achieved his ambition of winning the Brisbane trainer's premiership in 1971-72.

Because of fuel rations, Atkins would regularly walk his horses from Toowoomba to Brisbane to race.

During that period, he also emptied his stable to enlist in the army for three years while he served in World War II in Papua New Guinea.

Atkins continued training into the 1990s and in 2010 was inducted into Racing's Hall of Fame, alongside the biggest names of racing in Australia including Tommy Smith and Bart Cummings.

Sadly, Atkins died at the age of 94, just four weeks prior to his induction into the Hall of Fame.

Jim Atkins trained thousands of winners after his first winner Clarisolaus in 1936.

Big race wins included some of the best races in Australia, with races such as the Doncaster Handicap, Queensland Derby, All Aged Stakes, Chipping Norton, Turnbull Stakes, AJC Oaks and Brisbane Cup some of the more notable.

He also won over 20 Toowoomba trainer's premierships, a handful at Ipswich and five metropolitan premierships in Brisbane.

Given that we have just celebrated Australia Day, it is also worthy to mention that Jim was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for his involvement in racing.

We will be researching plenty more great Grafton Cup stories from the past 100 runnings of the Cup, and we'd love to hear more great local stories.

Call in and see us at the office, call the sport desk on (02) 6643 0574, or email us at sport@dailyexaminer.com.au to share your story.

Topics:  grafton cup



An emotional Mike Baird: 'There was great personal cost'

"After 10 years in public life, this moment for me has arrived."

Gig Guide: What's on around town

Former The Voice contestant Dallas James will play the Currumbin RSL on Saturday.

Gig guide: January 19-22, 2017

MPs say farewell to Baird

NSW Premier Mike Baird announced his resignation in Sydney today.

Provest expects more change at the top

Local Partners

Mark Salling's child porn court date cancelled

Mark Salling's upcoming court hearing has been cancelled

Steve Carell pulls cruel prank on fans of the office

Steve Carrell decided to pull a cruel prank on fans of The Office

Married at First Sight: M'boro dad to feature on reality TV

LOOKING FOR LOVE: Farmer Sean Hollands, 35, from Maryborough will feature on the upcoming new season of Married At First Sight.

A bull riding accident put everything into perspective for Sean.

Your chance to drive like Magnum P.I.

Tom Selleck in Magnum P.I. with his trusty 'side-kick' Ferrari.

FERRARI that appeared on classic detective show goes to auction.

Ocean Sleeper discuss being 'Six Feet Down'.

Ocean Sleeper make waves with their new EP. Photo Contributed

Gippsland band shines at Unify

Bowie's final music EP No Plan released

NEW: Artwork for David Bowie's posthumous 2016 EP, No Plan.

David Bowie's 28th and final album

Beautiful Terranora acreage

77 Mahers Lane, Terranora.

Check out this week's feature property.

Thousands of jobs part of $1b retirement village project

THIS YEAR: An artist impression of the new Aveo retirement village in Springfield.

Aveo Springfield unveiled this month, homes ready by July

KNIFE-EDGE: The housing tightrope we now face

Even the smallest interest rate rise will be hard for some to handle.

One if five home owners at risk, according to new analysis

'Difficult times': Rental prices tipped to increase in 2017

GREAT BUYS: There are some great rentals and houses to buy in South Gladstone. Head to gladstoneobserver.com.au for the top 10 homes under $100 to rent right now in the Gladstone region.

Investors may soon see a "profitable return” on properties.

Historical home leaves family's hands after 75 years

SALE CONFIRMED: The Gympie Regional   Realty team which sold the Ramsey property are (back) Mel Gastigar, Dorothy Palmer and Margaret Cochrane, with (front) home seller Terri-Jayne Ramsey.

Ramsey family played a huge role in Gympie's growth.

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!