Submitted by jays on 28 January 2014 - 10:58pm

This embroidered blue silk purse was presented to the winner of the weight for age Subscription Purse at the Hawkesbury Races in August 1838, and held £50 prize money. The race was won by Hercules, owned and bred by the Rouse family. Hercules, a rich bay with black points by the imported sire Whisker, had a successful career as a racehorse and a stallion for both the Rouses and new owner G S Hall, who purchased the horse in 1840. Described as being ‘unquestionably a horse of sterling bottom’, with ‘beauty, good temper and speed’, he was advertised as being ‘the most powerful blood horse in the Colony’ – so well known that comments on his performances were superfluous. Hercules won some £550 in prize money, winning major races at Windsor, Campbelltown, Maitland and Patrick’s Plains, and coming second in the 1841 Metropolitan Cup at Homebush. Encased in a glass dome, its contents long ago spent, the purse stands in pride of place in the drawing room of Rouse Hill House. It remained a family treasure, a symbol of former glories and the Rouse family’s importance in the history of the Australian horse industry. 

Photograph: Jenni Carter, 2008
Rouse Hill House & Farm
Purse, 1838 Purse, 1838 Purse, 1838
Hamilton Rouse Hill Trust Collection