There’s not much that Dick Vincent, 91, doesn’t know about cows and horses.

Story by Kerry Faulkner

Dick Vincent is casting a critical eye over two frisky thoroughbred yearlings at his lush Capel property, about 200 kilometres south of Perth. The horse breeder is working alongside reputed Western Australian racehorse trainer Len Morton. There is nothing particularly unusual about this scene, except that Dick is aged 91, and he has his leg in a cast – the result of a nasty accident he finds embarrassing.   

Dick is tough to the point of being renowned for it. He’s broken horses since he left school (too many wild brumbies among them to count) and ridden rodeo. He survived breaking every rib in his body in a car crash that police said should have killed him, and was trampled by a horse just last year. An X-ray of the hip he shattered in that accident looks like a workshop bench because it has so many bolts and screws.  

He’s also lived on some of Australia’s most remote stations in the harshest of landscapes, only to retire (age 75) to comfortable Capel for a crazy ram to knock his feet out from under him. 

His friends haven’t let that slide; one even wrote a poem about it. There’s an underlying theme in the badly rhyming verse that perhaps karma had caught up with the charmingly incorrigible Dick for the numerous times the cattleman had put one over his peers.      

The broken leg hasn’t stopped him looking after his thoroughbreds though. Every day his partner Jan takes him down to the paddocks to check on their progress; he’s a shocking patient, she says, grumpy all the time at being stuck at home.  

In fact Jan, who is his fourth partner, laughs that she thinks they made the wrong person an Officer in the Order of Australia (OA) back in 2015. The award should have gone to her, not Dick, for putting up with him. 

The grumpiness can be forgiven, firstly because his discomfort is compounded by a nasty infection in his elbow and, secondly and most importantly, because he’s spent all his life in a paddock, not a lounge chair. He’s been offering yearlings at auctions since about 1954 and, he says, while he’s a lucky horse breeder, he’s not a lucky horse owner. 

“I bred seven Stakes horses that won – three won over $1 million,” he says. “I had Barley a Moment and sold it for $54,000. He won $1.3 million for David Hayes [the leading Melbourne trainer], who syndicated him for $3 million. So David Hayes got $3.4 million out of my $54,000,” he says. 

This story excerpt is from Issue #109

Outback Magazine: Oct/Nov 2016