The First Western Australian Horse to Win a Melbourne Cup
Blue Spec was slow out of the gates; the yearling that John Australia Mayo purchased in New South Wales, for 45 guineas, had managed only 1 win in 18 starts. In 1903, seeing no future for the horse, a disappointed Mayo placed Blue Spec up for auction. The three year old was snapped up for 150 sovereigns by successful Kalgoorlie businessman PA ‘Paddy' Connolly who envisaged a very different future for the brown stallion.
Once out west and sporting his new owner's red and white colours, Blue Spec lifted Connolly to prominence on the Western Australian racing scene. He won the City Handicap at Boulder and in 1904 he won both the Kalgoorlie and Perth Cups, the two most important distance races in the State at that time.
In a bold move, Connolly sent the stallion off to well-known Victorian trainer Walter Hickenbotham who had already trained 3 Melbourne Cup winners (including Carbine in 1890). In the spring racing lead-ups, Blue Spec won the Moonee Valley Cup.
On the back of some excellent displays of trackwork, Hickenbotham wrote to Paddy in Kalgoorlie saying Blue Spec would be hard to beat in the Melbourne Cup. Connolly quietly set about backing his horse across six states at the long odds of 33-1 to win the 1905 Melbourne Cup. Before a crowd of 90,000, Blue Spec crossed the finish line in first place in a race record time of 3:27.5, winning Connolly and Western Australia their first Melbourne Cup. Connolly not only won the purse of £4,874 but he won over £20,000 in wagers.
Blue Spec returned home to Western Australia to win the Helena Vale Cup (Perth Stakes) carrying a massive 10 stone (63.5kg), winning a prize of 130 sovereigns and commencing a series of seven Perth Cup wins for Paddy Connolly.
In September 1876, a steamer shipping horses from Sydney to Melbourne for the Melbourne Cup, foundered in heavy seas. Nine horses died, but one colt survived. It was aptly renamed Robinson Crusoe, and went on to win the AJC St Leger in 1877.
Just before the turn of the century, near Tamworth, Augustus Hooke Jnr brought two horses together. Both were from Robinson Crusoe's bloodline. He matched True Blue with Specula to produce Blue Spec.