Hero of polo fields dies on threshold thoroughbred career

One of the greatest satisfactions that John Kenneth Mackay, a distinguished Australian horseman best known as Jaime who was only 63 when he died suddenly mid afternoon on Friday, enjoyed in a decade of expanded involvement with thoroughbreds was the breeding and racing of the winner of the Keith Mackay Quality for 2-year-olds at Randwick in April 2010, the Dubawi filly Golden Millennium.

The extra pleasure that Jaime, and his wife Jennifer, secured from the success of Golden Millennium flowed from the fact the race’s name honours that of an earlier member of his family, one which has been respected in thoroughbred racing and the sport of Polo in Australia since the late 1800s.

The family’s Australian horse history began in the1830s when they were among the pioneers of the Dungog region, one in foothills of the mountains in north east Hunter Valley.The Mackays established Cangon, cattle and horse producing country which five generations on was conducted by Jaime Mackay.

His great love and expertise was on the polo field, one on which he was one of the most outstanding of his time in Australia. He was captain of the Australian Polo team for ten years from1986 and led them to victories over New Zealand (1987) and the United Kingdom (1988). He also captained a Commonwealth team on a tour of the United States in 1989.

Like his father Ken, inducted into the Hunter Region Sporting Hall of Fame, Jaime also played a role in Polo organisation and recently was co-coach of Australian teams involved in Test Matches played in the Sydney region. His only son, Jock, was in the teams and, at the time of his father’s shock death, was competing in England.

Jaime Mackay also built up a big reputation for producing quality Polo Ponies on Cangon that were sought by both Australian and overseas players.

In the past twenty years, he and Jennifer, a grandaughter of Guy Raymond, an icon of Victorian breeding, increased their involvement in Thoroughbred breeding and racing. From a small number of mares they produced the stakes winners He’s No Pie Eater, Miss Kariba, Katima, Whoever, Vanquished and Golden Millennium.

More recently they swung into standing Thoroughbred sires commercially, suffering a grievious blow when a newcomer to the stallion yards last year, the Ireland bred proven Danehill sire Spartacus, died midway through the season.

There are still four sires at Cangon, namely Hot Danish’s sire Nothin’ Leica Dane and Choistar (by Choisir), Recapitalize (Royal Academy) and Sea Battle (Quest for Fame).

At the time of his death, Jaime Mackay and Jennifer were at Byron Bay on the NSW north coast and were celebrating after viewing on television their Darren Smith (Newcastle) trained More Than Ready mare Southern Girl blitz the field in taking the opening race on the Scone Cup program.They bred Southern Girl and her first two dams.

Jaime Mackay is survived by Jennifer, Jock and his sister Catriona Murphy. Catriona manages her grand aunt Ann Raymond’s Sledmere Stud at Scone and her husband, Royston Murphy, runs Segenhoe Thoroughbred’s new facility, Fairlight, a world class agistment complex along the Hunter River at the south eastern end of the Segenhoe Valley.

The funeral service was held on Friday, May 24th, at the St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church at Dungog.