Dubbles Draper Will Be Sadly Missed

Castle Tankard reunion just weeks ago

The Carey family of Ridgemont Highlands are mourning the sad passing of their beloved Grandmother Audrey Mary ‘Dubbles’ Draper, who passed away on Tuesday morning at the age of 96.

Dubbles visited Borrowdale Park earlier this month for the 57th running of the RTGS $100 000 Castle Tankard, a race of which she trained the winner Little Chief in 1983 for Mr & Mrs L W Baldwin and Mrs L M Corser – she also saddled runner-up Pin Royal.

Craig Carey was at Borrowdale Park on Tankard Day in an emotional catch-up with his Gran.

Craig told the Sporting Post that the Carey family were mourning the passing of a grand lady who loved horses and racing.

The Carey family pictured with Granny Dubbles

Jackie Cocksedge recently visited Dubbles to catch up on old times and capture some details pf a family steeped in the thoroughbred.

Audrey Mary Silcock made her entry into the world on 16th August 1922 at Colesberg, in the heart of Karoo country in South Africa.

Her parents Mary Josephine “Lassie” (nee Wilmot) and Sidney Silcock were farmers and horse breeders in the region. Sid came out to Africa from Albury in Norfolk as a young man at the invitation of his older brother, Joe, and found employment with Henry Nourse, at that time reputed to be the largest racehorse owner in the world.

Records show that Dennis and Dubbles had an older brother, Terence Sydney, and an older sister, Sue Ann Mary, but as Dubbles has never mentioned them, one assumes they did not survive infancy.

Dubbles and her winners down the years

Sid Silcock founded Starston, about 20 kilometres from Colesberg, quite near to the Orange River, after leaving the service of the remarkable but highly fastidious Nourse, in around 1933.

Dennis, Dubbles’ elder brother, subsequently started his own farming career working for the astute Raymond Ellis, at Hartford Stud, which then occupied the land subsequently acquired by Gary Player.

Dennis who became an expert on the soils and plants of the Karoo, after returning from a lengthy period of incarceration, after World War II, set up Knoffelfontein on Starston’s boundary.

As a child of 5, Audrey followed her father everywhere on her chubby little legs, and he would call to her “Come on Dubbly Wubbly, keep up”.

The nickname Dubbles stuck.

More of Dubbles and her winners down the years

Dubbles recalled growing up in Colesberg and from a very early age being horse mad.

As she said she would ride any horses she could lay her hands on.

An early memory she treasured is that she had a pet nanny goat, that was orphaned, named Nancy. Her father made a little cart, and a bridle to fit the goat, and Dubbles spent many happy hours being pulled in the cart by Nancy until her father put a stop to it because her route involved the road to the post office and the traffic was deemed dangerous. Apparently, Nancy was also banished as she ate the washing.

Growing up Dubbles took to schooling polo ponies, and a chance introduction through the Worsley-Worsick family to Ella Lockie saw Dubbles visiting Rhodesia to stay with Ella and her sister Gwen, at Ellerslie Farm in Bromley.

It so happened that the neighbours who farmed had a very successful young polo playing son, Bob, and at the age of 23 Dubbles became Dubbles Draper.

The couple acquired a farm at Bromley, Woodleigh, where Bob did a bit of tobacco growing and raised a magnificent herd of Hereford cattle. Bob continued to play polo and in the 1950’s was the Rhodesian number one player in the era of Rodney Morris who captained the Rhodesian team from 1949 to 1960.

Dubbles started riding work for Lord Kensington, who farmed nearby and had a small training track on his property. As a result, she met Dorothy Rutherford, a successful racehorse trainer based at Marandellas.

Dubbles credited Dorothy with being the most influential person in her early days of training, giving very generous and helpful advice.

With help and encouragement from family and friends, they put in a training track at Woodleigh, and so it started.

Dubbles with her grandchildren at the tree she planted decades ago at Borrowdale Park

At the height of her career as a trainer Dubbles  probably had about 30-odd horses in training.

Dubbles recalled that she was blessed with very good patrons through the years, making special mention of Terry Cutter, Laurie Baldwin and Terry Hardy, who was a big supporter of her yard.

We recalled the good old days when attending a race meeting was an occasion to dress up.

In fact, all ladies sported hats and often gloves too.

Dubbles said her late mother-in-law who lived with them, and her mother who came to live with them after her father’s death in 1958, would not miss a race meeting and were always dressed to the nines.

Bob and Dubbles only child, Leigh Josephine, also grew to love horses.

She married Graham Carey whose family farmed in Bromley. After running the Windsor Stud for Terry Hardy in Ruwa, the young couple decided to try their fortunes in Cape Town and relocated to Somerset West.

Tragically Graham was killed in a car accident in 1989, and Leigh plus two small children came back home to Woodleigh, where Leigh started a successful stud farm.

After the farm invasions in 2002, Dubbles and Leigh moved to Harare and kept one mare with Diz Buckler at Sarahdane Stud.

Mated to Fencing Master, the mare Click On produced a filly in 2015 which was named Solinski. Wanting to keep a small interest, the filly was syndicated and went into training with Kirk Swanson.

Sadly, Leigh did not live to see Solinski excel on the track, winning the Zimbabwe Oaks, The Zimbabwe Derby and the Silver Slipper, and earn herself the title of Spey Bridge Champion Three-Year Old Filly 2016/17.

Solinski has notched up 6 career wins and brought much joy to Dubbles who watched her races on TV with keen interest.

Dubbles (pictured above) lived with her granddaughter, Audra, her husband Dirk, and her great-grandchildren in Harare.

Audra seems to have avoided the horsey bug but Dubbles’ grandson, Craig, and his wife Amanda recently joined the powerful Kieswetter set-up of Ridgemont/Highlands Stud Farm in Robertson in the Cape.

  • Thanks to Jackie Cocksedge 

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