Vale John Inglis

The thoroughbred industry has lost one of its finest with the passing yesterday of John Inglis.

The patriarch of Australia's foremost bloodstock auction house, the man known to all as "The Boss", probably dropped the hammer on more thoroughbred horses than anyone in the world.

And he sold every one of them - as many as 40,000 - with the same honour and decency he displayed in every aspect of his life. Born in 1918, John Inglis represented the fourth generation of a family that arrived in New South Wales from Scotland in 1829.

Soon after landing in the colony, Thomas Inglis received a grant of 60 acres of land at Camden where he established a farm called Craigend, which still exists and is still farmed by an Inglis.

The auction business was begun by Thomas' first son William who started selling produce at Camden and then went into the livestock business in Sydney, where he established the Inglis Horse Bazaar that operated for 30 years in Pitt St.

In 1906 the business moved to the Newmarket site near Randwick racecourse where it has stood for 100 years.

William Inglis passed the reins to his son John who died in 1914 when they were, in turn, handed to his son Reg who kept the business going while his older brothers were away at the war.

The firm of William Inglis and Son rode the boom of the 1920s, becoming Australia's biggest bloodstock auctioneers, only to plunge back to earth with stock market crash of 1930, surviving the depression largely by selling

By the time the next major crisis arrived, the latest John Inglis and his brother Dick were running the firm.

That difficulty was the collapse of tax-minimisation syndicates, the most high-profile of which was the Cups King syndicate put together by trainer Bart Cummings.

Cummings faced financial ruin with around $12 million worth of yearlings and no-one to buy them.

But thanks to "The Boss", who ensured all the breeders were paid, the great trainer was allowed to trade his way out of trouble.

John Inglis personally sold every yearling offered by his firm for around 35 years after WWII.

"In my day I'd do the lot. Be in the box all day," he said.

"The only time I didn't sell them was when a very good racehorse was up.
Then my father would step in."

These days five men do the same job.

"The Boss" gave the selling away in 1988, handing the running of the business over to his nephews Reg and Jamie and his son Arthur.

But until he fell ill a few months ago he would visit the office every day.
Reg Inglis yesterday described his uncle's passing, at the age of 88, as a sad reminder of lost times.

"It is the end of an era," he said.

"It is a sad day but a happy release. He had become quite unwell and he didn't like being that way.

"He was the the doyen of auctioneers in Australia and a wonderful man who was universally liked.

"He personified common decency, his word was his bond and he was a very humble man."

William Inglis and Sons sold many of the greatest horses to have raced in Australia to some of the greatest names in the country.

But none did more for the game than the man who put true meaning into his company's motto: "Unshakeable integrity".