Smart N Lucky and John Bozier winning a Redcliffe 3YO on 24/2/84
The year was 1976 and I’d just married the love of my life. Including in the package came a little boy and girl. I earned a take home pay of $120 a fortnight and paid out $100 a fortnight in rent. Despite many years of continuous employment in a TAB agency, my wife was unable to gain employment immediately in the TAB’s upon moving to Ipswich, so I finished up with three jobs. The main one was a teller at the National Bank in Ipswich then I worked at night cleaning at the department store Cribb and Foote and also pencilled for a bookmaker named Trevor Marsden on a Saturday arvo at the Ipswich Showgrounds. We got through those early years, a combination of the exuberance of youth and hungry mouths proving a great incentive to get out of bed early and work till late.
In those formative years of being a bank teller I met many lovely people whom I still exchange pleasantries with to this day – even though I left the bank in what seems a lifetime ago. One such man was a chap called John Bozier. In those days there was none of today’s red carpet (where customers line up like a herd of sheep), you picked out a teller and stood in his or her queue. John picked my queue one day in 1976 or 1977 and said something along the lines “didn’t I see you at the trots last Saturday?” That ensuing conversation started a friendship which lasted the remainder of John’s life – until his funeral last Tuesday.
John Bozier entered the world in Brisbane on the 19th of May 1937, the youngest of four children. His father passed away when John was only 13 years old, but the closely knit older siblings of the family worked together to get the sometimes wayward teenager through those difficult years.
After completing his secondary education at St Laurence’s College in Brisbane, John’s working life was to cover a whole spectrum of jobs as diverse as butcher, jackeroo, taxi driver and house builder.
John married May – the woman he would spend the rest of his life with – on the first of August 1964. The couple had two children, their daughter Michelle being born in 1965 and son John arriving in 1967.
John harboured a desire to train and drive pacers at their acreage property in the Ipswich suburb of Leichhardt, close to the entrance gates for the RAAF base at Amberley. John tinkered with different horses with limited success until he and his brother Bert bought a mare called Smart Variety in foal, with a foal at foot. Those offspring ultimately won races, but it was John and Bert’s decision to send the mare to be mated with retired Queensland champion pacer Lucky Creed, which stood at Doug Coy’s property at Warwick, that would finally give John the good horse he had yearned for. The resultant colt foal would race as Smart N Lucky (a combination of his parent’s names). Smart N Lucky helped put Ipswich harness racing back on the map, following the closure of the showgrounds venue to Saturday afternoon pacing action. [The venue for 20 odd years subsequently has been home to the Ipswich Greyhound Club]. Performing with distinction at all South East Queensland tracks, Smart N Lucky was one of the most consistent pacers to ever grace a race track. Whilst winning 11 races in his career, including one at pacing headquarters of Albion Park, Smart N Lucky knocked up running placings often at big odds. Racing in the halcyon days of Albion Park, when crowds of thousands turned out each Saturday night and dozens of bookmakers would set the punting public, backing or owning horses like Smart N Lucky was akin to having another job. The irony of the Albion Park win of Smart N Lucky was discussed by John’s friend Noel Brown during the funeral service when he stated that Smart N Lucky had been playing second fiddle on a number of occasions to the very smart Jazzy Joe who was driven by Eldon Papworth. One night after Jazzy Joe had narrowly beaten the unlucky Smart N Lucky – again – Eldon Papworth advised John that he’d “like to drive him next Saturday night”. Papworth – regarded as one of Australia’s best drivers – didn’t nominate nemesis Jazzy Joe the following Saturday and drove Smart N Lucky to victory “at 16 or 20-1 and made John the proudest man in Australia”. It seemed even Papworth recognised that the Ipswich battler and his horse deserved to win a city race instead of running 2nd.
During retirement Smart N Lucky has served the odd mare. The last foal he sired is the now 4YO Gold Coast winner Lucky Creek for Vic Pascoe.
John had success also with classy pacer Noah Winner which won 4 or 5 in a row. Noah Winner was interestingly named – John decided on that name after a fellow he knew would ask him every time he saw him in the street “know a winner?”
Apart from his involvement with pacers, John joined close friend Don Ross (for decades the Clerk of the Course at Albion Park) and Ron Corvi (for decades – and still currently - the starter at Ipswich and other thoroughbred tracks) to thrill patrons each year at the Brisbane Exhibition with popular chariot races.
A treasured family photograph tendered for public display at the conclusion of the service showed John standing with one leg on each of two horses without saddles racing side-by-side at speed. It’s almost impossible to comprehend how the man could do that – and certainly not a trick to try at home!
Neighbour of 35 years and well known Ipswich harness racing identity Dave Rodger stated during the service that “if I’d have searched the world, I couldn’t have found a better neighbour” and paid a special tribute to John’s wife May thanking her “for the way she looked after him in the last 2 years”.
In recent years, John had a hip replacement which lead to his “retirement”, but he decided to go out and buy an industrial sewing machine and taught himself to make high quality horse rugs and horse gear and developed a thriving business.
Whilst my personal association and discussions with John revolved around harness racing – with neither of us ever coming up for air, I was unaware John had received a special “commendation” from “The Royal Humane Society of Australasia” for saving a man’s life in the sea at Point Lookout on 21.2.59.
John had extensive experience and involvement across many sports in his teenage and adult life, but gained special satisfaction out of being manager to the 1978 Under 11 grade team of the Booval Swifts Junior Rugby League Football Club. Those kids were to win several premierships in the Ipswich competition often going through the entire season undefeated. Many kids in the team were special to John, but it is taken as read that he gained great satisfaction watching the career progress of two of the ten year old kids he managed – namely subsequent Ipswich rugby league legends - Kevin and Kerrod Walters.
The large crowd which attended John’s funeral bore testament to the esteem with which he was held in by a big cross section of the community. From Royal National Association executives to Ipswich Show Society committeeman and Marburg Pacing Association members to fellow harness racing participants -they were there in their droves.
John Bozier – husband – father – poppy – harness racing owner/trainer and a lovely man I had the pleasure of knowing for over a quarter of a century during the journey of life, was taken far too early at just 67 years of age…. yet another victim of that wretched leukaemia.
John is survived by his wife May, son John, daughter Michelle and their families as well as Smart N Lucky who is now 24 years old.
In the rough-and-tumble world we live in, good and decent people like John Bozier stand out like beacons as daily we endeavour to dodge dudders, cheats, thieves and liars.
Past experience tells me that most people will let you down in life and most horses are chaff bandits. A punt on the combination of John Bozier and Smart N Lucky on many occasions made life just a little bit easier financially to get myself and my young family through those formative years. I made sure John knew that in his life, thanking him on numerous occasions, for tipping me his horse.
I’m indeed privileged that one day back in 1976 or 1977, he picked my teller’s queue to stand in.