King of the Turf
George Andrew Towton was a pioneer of Western Australian thoroughbred racing. He contributed £10 in 1887 towards the running of the first Perth Cup. George Towton was a rare combination, an owner and trainer as well as a rider. His dominance on the turf in the early years of racing was so great that he earned himself the title, ‘The King'.
Towton trained four WATC Derby winners and he owned and trained the winners of six Perth Cups and one Railway Stakes, all in a period of just 10 years.
In 1892 Towton made history by riding Wandering Willie with a hefty 10½ stone (66.5kg) to become the first and only person to own, train and ride a Perth Cup winner. It is a record that cannot be surpassed.
In 1895 Towton won the Railway Stakes on a horse named after his sister Florence. As if Florrie hadn't done enough, Towton saddled her up again and ran her in the WATC Derby later that day, winning once more. Not only were both races run over 1¼ miles, the route to and from the racetrack was a swim across the Swan river.
One will never know how much more George Towton could have achieved if it had not been for a fall from a horse-drawn sulky. It happened when Towton was in his mid forties, crossing a bridge one day over the Swan River and the injuries he sustained eventually cost him his life. He is still remembered by the running of the GA Towton Cup at Ascot, a major lead up race to the Perth Cup.
The King Issues a Challenge
The first Perth Cup was run in January 1887 and Towton's horse, Telephone, started favourite. It finished 2nd to First Prince, a horse owned by Alexander Forrest.
Not shy of a duel, Towton challenged Forrest to a match race. It was to be run over 2 miles with the same two horses and same allotted weights. Towton and Forrest each put up £100, winner takes all!
Forrest's horse won yet again. However the relationship between the two men was not over. Towton continued to train horses for Forrest for many years, and there was always next year's Cup.
The 1888 Perth Cup
The next year, Towton rode a horse called Duration into fifth place. He then lodged a protest against first across the line, a horse called Baron Neckar, alleging interference 10 furlongs from home when Baron Neckar's rider crossed from the outside when not two lengths clear of Duration. The runner-up was Towton's other horse, Telephone.
After a lengthy delay, the Stewards disqualified Baron Neckar (although it had won by three lengths) and Towton was declared the winner of the 1888 Perth Cup with Telephone.