The Lee-Steere family had a major influence on thoroughbred racing in Western Australia for well over a century.
Augustus Frederick Lee-Steere established the family’s interest in racing. He had a reputation as a good judge of horses and a fearless rider. He served as a steward for the Western Australia Turf Club in the 1860s, and was its third chairman from 1868-1870.
Augustus’ son, Sir Ernest Augustus Lee-Steere Snr was Chairman of the Club for 21 years, from 1920–41. He owned many champion horses including Eurythmic which won the Caulfield and Sydney Cups, Maple which won the Caulfield Cup and Second Wind, which won two Williamstown Cups and ran second to Phar Lap in the 1930 Melbourne Cup.
His son, Sir Ernest Henry Lee-Steere Jnr, also served as Chairman of the Western Australian Turf Club for 21 years (1963-84). He championed the cause of Western Australian racing, and under his leadership it took on a new prominence in the Australian scene. In his period as Chairman, public and members’ facilities at metropolitan courses were completely reconstructed, the winter course at Belmont was re-laid, the Australian Derby was introduced, and the Perth summer carnival became an essential element in the planning of east coast owners and trainers. Lee-Steere was also a great supporter of the West Australian breeding industry, and horses bred at his family studs won or sired the winners of the Perth Cup and Western Australian Turf Club Derby, Guineas, Oaks and St Leger.
‘Sir Ernest Lee-Steere, one name, two men who stand like twin towers of extraordinary influence over WA racing for most of the 20th century’ Greg Carpenter.
‘Sir Ernest Lee-Steere ‘was one of the best owners as he raced purely for the sport and attempted to raise the standard of racing...’ (‘Corinthian’, Turf Successes of Pastoralists, The West Australia, 26 September 1950, page 13).
‘He was also a good judge of horses and a fearless rider, and at one time acted as judge at the Royal Agricultural Show in this State. He was much respected by those who knew him, and doubtless his generosity will be remembered by many.’ (Obituary, The Western Mail, Aug 15, 1903)