By Jordan Gerrans
A behind-the-scenes look back on the amazing career of champion galloper Vo Rogue has been immortalised in a new book written by someone in the horse’s inner sanctum all those years ago.
Lynlea Small – the wife of Vo Rogue’s regular hoop Cyril – has gone back through the history books, scoured all the old newspaper clippings, watched the replays, as well as speaking to all the majors players in the horses’ journey to tell his story.
Lynlea – who has trained gallopers in her own right as well as having an extensive professional career – has wanted to write a book about the Australian Racing Hall of Fame member for some time but never had the time and opportunity until recently.
It was around a nine-month process for Lynlea to get the book to where she wanted, before engaging legendary racing broadcaster John Tapp for his guidance.
The respected Tapp has written the foreword for the book.
Through the process, Lynlea consulted closely with Vo Rogue’s part-owner Jeff Perry, who the Small family have remained close with following the star galloper’s breathtaking career all those decades ago.
“The books needs to be true to his origins and I ran everything past Jeff, so he is happy with the book, he has been my go-to person," Lynlea said.
“I had to give a lot of thought of the journey Vo Rogue went through.
“The idea behind the book is to not to just write a true account of what happened, but take people back to that time and to do that, you have to show what was happening at the time.
“I think that brings the truth of the story out.”
All these years on, Cyril is still riding winners around the place at age 63 and is proud of the way the book has come up.
“She has done a magnificent job putting the book together, I have heard the book in different stages as she was writing it and she has done a fantastic job,” Cyril said of Lynlea’s efforts.
“It was Lynlea’s idea to have something for people to learn and even along the way she found out some things that she didn’t even know about the horse and the journey.
“She put in a lot of hours, going through the newspaper clippings, doing the research, sorting them all out, while asking me questions about it all.”
Of the key themes of the book is the bond and connection between the major parties, including the Smalls, Perry and Vo Rogue’s trainer – the late Vic Rail – who died of a heart attack in 1994.
Perry has been intwined with the Small family since – helping land the property they live on now on the Gold Coast – as well as regularly attending family events and functions over the last 35 years.
“The love Cyril and Jeff have for one another, they have an extraordinary friendship,” Lynlea said.
“People have said to me that you do not see loyalty and friendship like those two in racing these days and that is correct.
“We have been through so much with Jeff, he comes to many of our family events.”
Perry was only training a small team of gallopers himself until 2020 and while he prepared five winners himself over the years, the feats of Vo Rogue were always in the back of his mind.
“We were very lucky to get a horse of his ability,’ Perry said.
There are not many days that go by down at the Gold Coast Turf Club where the bold front running galloper named Vo Rogue isn’t brought up in conversation to Cyril.
And, through Lynlea’s extensive research, the memories have been flooding back more than ever of late.
“We miss him and reminisce about him all the time,” Cyril said.
Lynlea is well prepared to write a book of this nature after securing an MBA and Doctor of Philosophy degree through Griffith University during her career.
Cyril described the champion Queensland-trained galloper as an ‘iron horse’ and believes his front running tactics were what made him such a favourite among the racing community in his heyday.
He is the horse that would change his life forever – Vo Rogue – as the popular galloper would go to win 26 races, 11 of which that are now branded as Group 1 events.
Small was the pilot in 22 of those 26 victories as he was one of the most recognisable hoops in Australia during Vo Rogue’s stunning career.
“It was a great privilege to be his rider for most of the time, we travelled far and wide, and won big races all over the country,” Cyril said.
“He had the speed and he wanted to be there out in front so we rode him that way.
"That's how he was beating them: running them in to the ground."
The Smalls are hopeful of having the book printed in the near future and are engaging with publishing companies.
(1983 - 2012)
Ivor Prince - Vow
Trainer: Vic Rail
Owners: Jeff Perry, Garry Roberts
Race record / Prizemoney: 83 starts, 26 wins, 14 seconds, 9 thirds / $3,118,100
- Alister Clark Stakes 1987
- A.R. Creswick Stakes 1987
- Turnbull Stakes 1987, 1988
- Futurity Stakes 1988
- Blamey Stakes 1988, 1989
- C F Orr Stakes 1989, 1990
- Winfield Stakes 1988
- St. George Stakes 1988, 1989
- William Reid Stakes 1988
- Australian Cup 1989, 1990
- George Main Stakes 1989