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FROM the VAULT – Fine Cotton

Police patrol horse race meets to oversee the safety of patrons and ensure laws are being upheld, but one fine August day in 1984 laws were about to be broken at Queensland’s Eagle Farm Racecourse.  In an elaborate switch, a horse named “Fine Cotton” was secretly replaced by faster performer “Bold Personality”, an illegal undertaking worldwide.  The switch was orchestrated to make extra money; Fine Cotton was an average race horse, but the substitute was much quicker so very long odds were bound to pay off when the ring-in easily pulled away from the pack to race it out against one serious contender before winning by a nose.

Fine Cotton with John Gillespie.  Image from The Courier Mail, 22nd July 1989.

Fine Cotton with John Gillespie. Image from The Courier Mail, 22nd July 1989.

The dubious paint job used to disguise Bold Personality, plus his sprint performance, instantly tipped off the crowds and the switch was quickly revealed.  Police and racing stewards questioned the tight lipped trainer whilst the sweating horse was immediately placed in a stall under police guard.  Many punters lost their money, including a few highly ranked police officers according to the gaoled trainer.

Bold Personality under guard after the race.  Image from The Courier Mail, 22nd July 1989.

Bold Personality under guard after the race. Image from The Courier Mail, 22nd July 1989.

The Mounted Police Unit was situated in Oxley at the time, staffed by 19 police officers (a mix of full and part time members) under the charge of a Senior Sergeant.  The complex boasted 26 stables for 24 troop horses and the Stock Squad also used the compound to run their mounts.  The Queensland Police Annual Report of 1985 stated ‘During the year, seven head of cattle and eight horses, exhibits in various court cases, were cared for at the Mounted Unit complex.  Among the horses was “Bold Personality”, the infamous ring-in for “Fine Cotton” at Eagle Farm Racecourse’.

Bold Personality, whilst being held as an exhibit at the Mounted Police Unit, Oxley, with Senior Constable Ian Johnston.  Image PM0588 courtesy the Queensland Police Museum.

Bold Personality, whilst being held as an exhibit at the Mounted Police Unit, Oxley, with Senior Constable Ian Johnston. Image PM0588 courtesy the Queensland Police Museum.

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This information has been supplied by the Queensland Police Museum from the best resources available.  The article was written by Museum Assistant Georgia Grier.  The Police Museum is open 9am to 4pm Monday to Thursday and 10am to 3pm on the last Sunday of the month (Feb-Nov) and is located on the Ground Floor of Police Headquarters at 200 Roma Street, Brisbane. Contact: E: [email protected]

“FROM the VAULT- Fine Cotton” by the Queensland Police Service is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (BY) 2.5 Australia Licence. Permissions may be available beyond the scope of this licence. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/au/legalcode

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