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Vale Mr Tom Sewell

Popular racing figure Tommy Sewell, a former leading Hawkesbury trainer and successful owner, has died at the age of 85.

A Hawkesbury district resident for most of his life, Tom Sewell lived a long and varied business life but always had racing foremost in his pursuits.

Tommy was best known to many racing people as the publican of the famous Tourmaline Hotel (the one that had the big horse statue out the front) on Windsor Road at Vineyard.

The late Mr Tommy Sewell. Image by Bradley Photographers

Now named the Vineyard Hotel, Tommy’s pub was the most popular port of call before and after a day at a Hawkesbury race meeting in the 1970s due to his famous hospitality.

The pub got its name from the best horse he had owned to that time, the very good sprinter King Tourmaline who won 12 races and raced in top company.

For trivia buffs the bronze horse statue, depicting a horse rearing on its hind legs, was 7m high and weighed three tonnes – you couldn’t miss it!

Tommy built the pub on his own 25-acre property where he had established a training complex in the late 1960s.

Racing was always a part of Tommy Sewell’s life. He admitted he was hooked on racing from the time he had his first bet as a 12-year-old.

He began his training career in 1966 when he took out an owner-trainer licence but that came after years of caring for the thoroughbreds he owned on his Vineyard property.

In the ensuing years he won a swag of races and became feared for landing big betting coups.

He made history as the first publisher of a television guide in Australia, worked as a public servant, served duty as a national serviceman, sold electrical goods, dabbled as an insurance fraud investigator, drove a monorail, ran a bus company and operated a television repair business.

In his latter years his business interests focused on his private bus fleet – one of the biggest in Sydney. His bus company held an exclusive and lucrative contract to provide transport alternatives when rail services were disrupted or shut down for maintenance. You will be sadly missed Tommy – a true gentleman and great friend to many in racing.

Chris Scholtz

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