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Famous Punters



Australia's Bigger Punter's


Australia has been the scene for some famous punters over the years, all who have made a big impact on the Horse Racing game. Just as much as certain punting exploits have made famous some of our more notorious Australian figures who are more famous not central to punting. Here is a historical look back at some of the more fearsome figures that have graced our betting rings over the years together with some of their more grandious betting tales. As I have hinted it must be said that many of these guys are achievers more well know in other fields, but common amongst all of these gentlemen is an ability to punt and by no means would these Australians do it by half.


Eric Connolly
Eric Conolly was one of the most famous horse owners and Australian punting figures of the 30’s. He strategically plotted to reap massive rewards from a sneaky plan to have hot favourite and famous race horse Phar Lap scratched on the eve of the Caulfield Cup. Up until that point he had bet up big on the Amounis- Phar Lap Caulfield Cup Melbourne Cup's Double at 20-1. Phar Lap was duly scratched, and history went on to tell us that Amounis defied his big weight and rivals to take the Caulfield Cup. Phar Lap overcame his own battles beating on attack on his life, a tardy float ride, and a big impost to then convincingly win the 1930 Melbourne Cup. Thus providing Connolly and his large syndicate of punters a  small fortune.



Tommy Smith is widely recognized as one of the best if not the best Horse Trainers in Australia. Tommy  wasn’t afraid to back his judgement as well and made some famous plonks and was a very successful punter. One of his better punting stings occurred in the 1949 AJC Derby when he saddled up 100/1 shot Maiden galloper Playboy. With George Moore aboard, Playboy was successfully steered to victory landing Tommy roughly $3 million in today's language.
TJ Smith


George Edser
"Hollywood" George Edser was a flamboyant Australian punters and a big figure of of the 50's horse racing game. Some of his more famous sprees included putting everything he owned (22,000 pounds) on Prince Marni at 4-9 in a three horse race. It won for Edser but only just. Unfortunately for George his activities were often thought to be questionable. So much so it the AJC to ban him in 1961 banning from the attendence of any Australian Horse Racing Tracks, George was considered to be an undesirable person and therefore not permitted. During his ban, Hollywood George Edser pictured left was often seen peering over racetrack fences to catch a glimpse of the action.




Perce Galea was known as the Prince of Punters in Australian horse racing circles. Perce was famous for his punting forays in the 50’s and 60’s. One of his proudest moments and memorable back in the day occurred at Rosehill racetrack when his colt Eskimo Prince won the 1964 Golden Slipper Stakes. Having wagered a huge sum on his own horse, and overwhelmed by a very warm public response, Perce engulfed his fellow Aussie punters with a flurry of banknotes as he made his way to the committee room for the Official Winners drinks. A near riot then ensued.

Perce Galea



Filipino Fireball
Felipe Ysmael was a prominent punting figure in the 1960's setting betting rings alight with his betting plunges. Known as the Filipino Fireball he made big news when he famously bet up on horse Tobin Bronze to win the Toorak Handicap. Felipe Ysmael demonstrated an example of the advantages of having a big bank, it was reputed that prior to that bet Felipe was down $90,000 on that particular day. He challenged leviathan bookmaker Bill Waterhouse then for a bet of $60,000 to $96,000 Tobin Bronze to work his way back in front on the punt. The horse did the job and Felipe again was showing a profit from his punting. In 1968, Felipe Ysmael was disqualified from racing for alleged improprieties with his racehorse Follow Me.




Kerry Packer was the king of the betting ring of his time. Famous for many large wagers the two at the forefront of most people’s minds occurred at Famous Flemington Racecourse. His successful punts were made on his own horse Mahogany in the 1993 VRC Derby, and on the 1998 Melbourne Cup Winner Jezabeel. He influenced betting so much that Jezabeel a 14-1 shot at the time of his bet in the Cup started a 6-1 equal favourite in a matter of minutes as a result of his influence on the betting ring. Jezabeel didn't let the big fella down either.
Kerry Packer



Over the last 30 years there have been some notable figures and punting outfits that have also made an impact on the betting ring. To mention a few they include Mick Bartley, The Legal Eagles led by Don Scott, Ray Hopkins and Sean Bartholomew whom these days is recognized as the most influential Australian punter on the Horse Racing track.


With reference to: They're Racing, Penguin Publishing 1999




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