A study of families involved in racing reveals that racing is very much in the blood. This photographic essay captures the spirit of this phenomenon and showcases the lives of four families with racing in their blood: Hoysted, Chirnside, Hutchinson, and Inglis.

The blood horse or thoroughbred is a horse especially bred and trained for racing whose ancestry can be traced back with out interruption to forebears recorded in the General Stud Book. Every thoroughbred in the world today traces its male line back to one of three foundation sires: Byerly Turk, Darley Arabian or Godolphin Arabian, who were bred in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The bloodlines of the horse are the backbone of thoroughbred racing. Horses are always referred to in the context of their lineage, particularly their sires and dams, and family is all important.

Whilst the forebears of the humans involved with racing today may not be listed in a General Stud Book, and the line is sometimes more tenuous, their 'ancestry' is no less impressive and enduring. A study of families involved in racing reveals that racing is very much in the blood. Punter, trainer, owner, jockey, breeder or bookmaker - irrespective of profession or level of involvement, racing, in one form or another, can often be found flowing from generation to generation. Family histories are enriched with colourful tales of great uncles who trained the outside chance, cousins who almost rode the champ, and big wins and tall tales.

This is an edited version of an essay 'In the Blood', written by Annette Shiell and Narelle Symes. The full text of the essay is provided in the attached section of this story.

The full series of essays and images are available in The Australian Family: Images and Essays published by Scribe Publications, Melbourne 1998, edited by Anna Epstein. The book comprises specially commissioned and carefully researched essays with accompanying artworks and illustrations from each participating institution. It was part of the exhibition project ‘The Australian Family’ which involved 20 local museums and galleries.