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Roughie’s Gem Is A Cut Above

By Bill Poulos

Just getting that one good horse is the dream of every racehorse owner the world over. And it’s a dream that is coming true in spades for Pallamallawa cattle and grain farmer Phillip 'Roughie' Tonkin at his first-ever crack at the caper.

Roughie’s walk-up start to one of the toughest games in town is something many racehorse owners will never experience in a lifetime of trying. But for Roughie and his brother-in-law, Quirindi cattle farmer Charles Hill, the game has only just begun. And so has the fun.

Roughie and Charles share ownership of emerging talent Invincible Gem, a plain-Jane three-year-old filly that just keeps winning. She’s rattled off three on the trot and all on city tracks, the latest against Group 3 company. And each win is bitter-sweet for the brothers-in-law – Invincible Gem was bred by Charles’s late father, Theo Hill, who also owned legendary stockhorse sire, Abdul.

Left: Invincible Gem, with Brenton Avdulla in the saddle, races clear to win the Group 3 Spring Stakes at Royal Randwick. Image by - Bradley Photographers

“Theo was in horses all his life,” Roughie said. “He had the stockhorse sire Abdul, and there are 40,000 descendants in the Stockhorse Society by that horse.”

Roughie has never owned a racehorse before. In fact, his wife Julia is the expert on all things equine.

“Julie is the horsewoman in our outfit – Charles and me are just the blokes that go to the races,” Roughie smiled. “She’s been around horses all her life and is very much involved in everything, and this little filly winning all the time is a very emotional thing to be happening for the whole family.”

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