Mirrabooka, a born and bred Monaro horse, did Australia proud when he was a member of the equestrian team which performed so well at the Rome Olympics in 1960.
Mirrabooka, aboriginal for the Southern Cross, was the result of a breeding between Idex, a thoroughbred stallion owned by Tom Shanley of Adaminaby and a thoroughbred mare owned by Jim Sherlock of “Kia-Ora” Cooma. He was foaled at “Kia-Ora” in the early 1950’s.
Jim had broken in the horse when it was a three year old and three months later he won two hack awards and a championship award on him at the Cooma Show.
In 1957 Mirrabooka was sold to Neale Lavis for one hundred pounds and a partnership between horse and rider was immediately formed.
At the Sydney Royal in 1959 Mirrabooka and Lavis performed exceptionally well in the dressage and then at Royal Melbourne they won both of the two-day events and came second in the three-day event. These successes ensured their selection in the Olympic Team. The team of riders and horses sailed together for six weeks to London in a cargo ship and then flew to Rome just 24 days prior to the Olympic events. It was necessary for the team to ride their horsed back and forwards through Rome to the training grounds each day.
The Australian team of Laurie Morgan, Bill Roycroft and Neale Lavis won gold in the Teams Event. Morgan won the individual gold medal in the three-day event, while Lavis aboard Mirrabooka won the silver medal. Neale described Mirrabooka thus: “He was so tractable and understanding. He had a great temperament. He was so careful and gentle and above all he would always try his heart out. I was offered ten thousand pounds for him after the Olympics but would never sell”.