The truth is if you had an hour to relate the story of Bob Peters you’d want an hour and a half, because no matter the time available one would always feel the need to compress the telling.
And where do you start?
Do you start with the young boy on his parents’ farm in Dalwallinu soon after World War Two, learning to ride bareback and germinating a passion for horses that would one day manifestly alter the visage of WA racing?
Do you start perhaps with the gifted student who earned a prized scholarship with all fees paid to prestigious Hale School, then knocked it back because he didn’t want to go there?
Or do you start with the University student studying economics, psychology and maths, who chose to drive a milk round at night on a horse-drawn cart and eventually quit both the tertiary education and the milk round to work in the wheatbelt boring wells.
And that didn’t stick either.
Eventually, it was in the job of selling cars that the young Bob Peters settled down and with all his intellectual talents one wonders what his parents thought about that.
But they needn’t have worried.
Within a month he was the leading salesman at the yard and soon he was offered a job at Premier Motors by renowned racehorse owner, Dave Golding. In no time, Golding was offering Peters the management of his new Fremantle car dealership with numerous franchises to run – and an income that was enough to make a young man’s eyes water.
Peters accepted while on honeymoon in Sydney with his childhood sweetheart, Sandra. Golding had flown over to surprise him with the overture and take the newlyweds out to dinner.
Bob Peters was twenty.
The business, however, boomed so quickly that Peters decided he needed to move out on his own, which led to Golding pitching him half the business to stay. But Bob had made up his mind and in time, Dave Golding was forced to overcome his disappointment and agree with the decision.
The Bob Peters motor vehicle concern quickly became an octopus with a profusion of franchises and over five hundred staff.
He was a multi-millionaire by thirty.
It was time to go racing.
It was 1973 when Bob Peters became Master of the West Australian Hunt Club, joined the membership of the WA Turf Club and won races with his first two thoroughbreds that same year.
Two years later he was on the committee, aged just thirty-three, and was almost immediately appointed to the Finance Sub-Committee, the T.A.B. Board and the Racecourse Development Fund, as well as other sub-committees.
He served the WAT.C. for eighteen years, including two years as vice-chairman and two as chairman (1990 – 1992).
During his time as a committeeman Peters introduced the first industry consultation body – WATRIC (Western Australian Thoroughbred Racing Industry Council) and was its inaugural chairman. He was instrumental in the much-welcomed decision by the T.A.B. to merge pools with the eastern states and also aided in convincing the government to lower turnover tax on the industry.
Peters was a director of Western Broadcasting Services, representing the thoroughbred industry when Radio 6PR was purchased to become the public voice of the T.A.B. codes.
And Bob Peters also served WA at the Australian Principal Clubs conferences for some fifteen years.
Of course, while all this was going on, Peters was establishing one of the great breeding and racing empires in the Australian thoroughbred world.
He owned properties in Serpentine, Gingin, Gidgegannup, Gosnells and Ascot, before moving operations to Keysbrook. Commencing with land purchased from Robert Holmes-A-Court, he increased and developed the holding until creating the showpiece stud that is Yalebra today.
There you will find one of the greatest broodmare herds in Australia, possessed of some of the very best sire lines. Peters’ sire Ksar, a great British stallion, sired numerous top WA gallopers and Peters Investments Pty Ltd owns and has owned interests in some of the leading Australian stallions. Names such as Pierro, Xtravagant, Animal Kingdom, Tosen Stardom and Dundeel come readily to mind. Peters also owned shares in the great Jungle Boy and stood Old Spice, who sired Rogan Josh, winner of the 1999 Melbourne Cup.
Peters disperses his stock regularly at WA sales and interstate as well. He is a constant buyer of quality animals from overseas and Australia-wide, perpetually improving the breed in WA.
These days he is second only to Godolphin for number of stakes winners produced annually in Australia. His contemporary WA trainers are Adam Durrant and Grant and Alana Williams – his number one jockey is William Pike, who is a phenomenon himself.
Peters’ winners are legion and too many to mention here, other than with a cruel brevity.
In microcosm then, the stable’s cerise and white silks have been carried to victory in over two hundred stakes races and nearly fourteen hundred others. Success has come in over two dozen Group One events, over two dozen Group Twos, nearly fifty Group Threes and well in excess of a hundred Listed Races.
The tally (at time of writing) includes a record eight Perth Cups, nine Derbies, thirteen Oaks, five Kingston Town Classics, three Railways, two Goodwood Handicaps, an Australian Cup and an Emirates Stakes.
Peters was also co-owner of multiple Group One winner, All Too Hard (All Aged, C.F.Orr and Futurity Stakes), Dundeel (Queen Elizabeth Stakes) and Animal Kingdom (Dubai World Cup).
The Peters-owned filly, Delicacy, was Australian Three-Year-Old of the Year in 2014-15 (defeating Winx) after winning two Derbies, two Oaks and three other Classics. A year later, she won a Perth Cup and C.B. Cox Stakes before breaking down.
Peters’ latest star filly, Arcadia Queen, has just won the WA Guineas, Champion Fillies Stakes and Kingston Town Classic (by four-and-a-half lengths) – at three – and as such is the first filly to achieve this trifecta of riches.
Bob Peters is seventy-five years young and his current dominance of WA racing is unique in the entire history of the sport in this state.
(Selected Feature Events Only)
Perth Cup (8):
1993 Field Officer
2005 Crown Prosecutor
2010 Lords Ransom
2012 Western Jewel
2015 Real Love
2017 Star Exhibit
2019 Star Exhibit
Kingston Town Classic (5):
1998 Old Nick
2001 Old Comrade
2002 Old Comrade
2015 Perfect Reflection
2018 Arcadia Queen
Railway Stakes (3):
2001 Old Comrade
2014 Elite Belle
2018 Galaxy Star
WATC Derby (8):
Old Money 2000
Mystic Prince 2013
Arcadia Dream 2016
WA Guineas (3):
Old Nick 1998
Perfect Jewel 2017
Arcadia Queen 2018