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26th April 2007

By Max Presnell
DON’T get the wrong idea about Bob Logan going down last Friday at the Newmarket stables bar during the broodmare sale for a long count from which he never recovered.

Logan, 68, was one of those blokes it was always a pleasure to see at the races, sales or wherever turf enthusiasts gather, but he was generally spotted closer to the horses than the booze.

In more recent times, he had been finetuned at the gym. “I was only speaking to Bob a few minutes before [his collapse],” Les Young, the bloodstock authority, recalled this week. “He had a few mares with [ trainer] Barbara Joseph. The mares had gone through the ring, and they were having a drink. Later I was trying to buy a mare for some clients. We heard someone had a problem at the bar, and I didn’t realise it was Bob.

“In a strange way that was not a bad place for it to happen. Bob hardly ever missed a sale. That was his life. He had other sporting interests, but the great thing about him, he was a genuinely nice person. He went out of his way to help people in all walks of the industry, like [sponsoring] the strappers’ awards. Promotions yes, but they were born out of a genuine interest of giving recognition to people who did things in the industry. He was a major contributor.”

He donated the strapper’s award for the Sydney Cup at Randwick recently, but Logan was just as likely to give the same prize at a Mudgee meeting. He survived the shipwrecks of equine insurance but always gave the impression he was there more for love of the game than business. And Young has been around him since the start, going back more than 20 years.

Logan launched on the turf with Bob Lapointe, who also made his mark on racing. Lapointe, using the Young expertise, purchased five yearlings in Adelaide in 1979, and Logan took shares in two – November Rain and Easy Date.

November Rain became a triple oaks winner, and Easy Date? Well, she didn’t have an impact to the same degree – in races anyway. After an injury Easy Date was retired to stud, and Young recommended she be sent to Lunchtime, a stallion in which Lapointe had a share. Easy Date was served by Lunchtime in her first two seasons.

“Around the second season Bob Logan said he wanted to get out of breeding,” Young said. “He just wanted a few racehorses. It was too late for the Easter mares sale so we put her in the Scone mares sales in May that year, and she was sold cheaply [$5000]. The buyer later sold her at the next Sydney sale, and that’s when John Augustine and his wife purchased Easy Date, carrying Snippets.”

Thus they received the credit for breeding Snippets, which went on to become a top-class sprinter and stallion. Snippets won nine races from 14 attempts, and at one stage at stud was getting $33,000 per service.

Young met Logan through Lapointe. “At the time Bob Logan had a general insurance business,” he said. “He did the insurance for [Lapointe’s] Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut, and they got involved in quarter horses, imported here by Lapointe. It was Bob Lapointe who encouraged Bob Logan to get into insuring race horses. He was the catalyst for that.”

Writing for The Australian in 2003 on why owners should have their horse insured, Logan maintained: “A thoroughbred horse is the most accident-prone animal on earth. During the Australian botulism episode a few years ago a prominent veterinarian commented that the common farmyard chook is more resistant to viruses and diseases than the average horse.”

Logan was talking from a position of authority: in 1994 his company insured the majority of yearlings which came down with botulism. At one stage, the death tally reached 21. This followed, in 1991, the premature demise of the stallions Imposing and Star Watch.

In the Financial Review, Logan described it as the “worst run of deaths, particularly with broodmares and weanlings pushing claims to over $30 million in Australasia in the past year”.

Logan survived and had no qualms about tilting at windmills. For instance, in 1992 he challenged the racing drug laws in a case which could yet have significance. Just what is a go-fast or therapeutic? The Logan case was likened to a “Bondi shark net that catches anything but the shark”. Fortunately, as I wrote in the Herald, “it only snared three dolphins, King’s Encore, Bob Logan and Nancy Jones but the AJC committee cut them free”.

King’s Encore had earned $1700 for winning a Goulburn maiden but came up positive to DADA, a vitamin B complex, regarded as a prohibited substance by racing officialdom but more in the category of something that wouldn’t make a flea jump by those who know. Stewards subsequently disqualified King’s Encore, and Jones, a dairy farmer and part-time trainer, was fined $1000.

Before leaving her Moruya farm for the AJC appeal at Randwick, Jones had to feed the cows at 2am and, getting the decision, wept with joy. Her previous appeal to the South Eastern Racing Association had the fine cut to $500, but Logan, the owner, pressed on.

In those days it wasn’t that fashionable to support the women trainers, particularly dairy farmers at Moruya.

But Shelley Hancox, broadcaster, journalist and syndicator, also benefited from his assistance. “Bob Logan loved sharing his knowledge and showing anyone with real interest in thoroughbreds the way in – Bob had incredible worldwide connections and shared them,” she said.

“He also had an amazing knowledge of American pedigrees. I never saw him in a bad mood, he never broke a confidence and always had a clean handkerchief for my glasses. Horse sales will never be the same without him.”
With thanks to Max Presnell and the Sydney Morning Herald