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History talk to celebrate Melbourne Cup arrival

Author Gerard Leahy will share the story of his fascinating family connection to the race that stops a nation when Bland Shire Council brings the Emirates Melbourne Cup Tour to West Wyalong next week.

After participating in the Main Street Melbourne Cup parade on board a four person horse and buggy earlier in the day, Mr Leahy will deliver a free history talk at the Bland Shire library at 2pm on Thursday 14 July prior to the arrival of the Cup at 3.10pm.

Mr Leahy is the author of two part series “Shirtsleeves to Shirtsleeves in Two Generations” which tells the story of his family’s part in Australia’s rural history and their close connection to West Wyalong and the Melbourne Cup.

His father, J.J. Leahy, owned or leased over 100 large properties in New South Wales and Queensland with “Manna Park” north east of West Wyalong his key property. While he loved and excelled at farming, J.J. Leahy’s other passion was horse racing and he long dreamt of winning the Melbourne Cup.

His mare Sarcherie ran in the Cup four times for two second placings and a third.

When the Cup comes to West Wyalong next Thursday, Gerard Leahy will finally get his hands on the trophy that for so long eluded his father.

However, Melbourne Cup success is not completely foreign to Mr Leahy’s family.

His mother’s family, the McDonells, pulled off a Melbourne Cup fairytale when they won the 1881 Cup with their cart horse Zulu carrying the lightest ever weight for a Cup winner of 32.2 kilograms.

In the spirit of the original Cup winner Archer in 1861, Zulu (whose normal duties were delivering milk to the residents of Cundletown in northern NSW) walked the long way to Melbourne to compete in the race.

Author Gerard Leahy is the youngest of J. J. Leahy’s nine children. He was born in 1930 and spent almost all of his working and family life on Burra Station near Tumbarumba.  After selling his property, he moved to the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.

Mr Leahy’s books invite readers on a trip down memory lane in a tribute memoir to his father, who was one of Australia’s most important early pastoralists, and paint a nostalgic literary picture of a bygone era.

Members of the community are invited to attend Mr Leahy’s history talk from 2pm free of charge with bookings essential to the library on 69790 272. The talk will be followed by an afternoon tea while awaiting the arrival of the Melbourne Cup.