Photo curtesy Buttswoth family collection
If the Royal Wood registered in Fire Fly’s pedigree with the ASH is the same Royal Wood listed in the ASB thoroughbred registry, then her pedigree would be as shown above. The breeding dates make this a possibility. However Mark was unsure but said “Royal Wood’s name sounds like a thoroughbred’s name”. The “NTB” listed on the ASB pedigree is a notation that this horse is “Non Thoroughbred” indicating that the breeding lines of these horses are “predominately thoroughbred bloodlines which are not eligible for the stud book but which are eligible for thoroughbred races in Australia”. This could come about for two reasons. Either its breeding does “not go back to a thoroughbred in all branches of its pedigree” or for “administration reasons” where the stud book fee was not paid for a horse. This was a “common occurrence during major droughts and the great depression of the 1930’s”. (Info from ASB website)
Almora Fire Fly was bred by Mark Buttsworth (Buttsy) of “Almora”, in the Gooder district near Kingaroy in Queensland, when Mark was “just a kid”. She was foaled 16th January 1979. Fire Fly was the start of Mark’s career in the performance horse industry. Mark’s father borrowed the mare Goldie from his relative, Lex Thompson, and took her to be covered by a next door neighbour’s stallion for a $50 service fee. Arthur Welch, the next door neighbour, owned the stallion Jake, who was part Arab. Goldie also had Arab features so Buttsy always referred to Fire Fly as being half Arab. Since registering Fire Fly with the ASH society, Mark has found out that Fire Fly was a descendant of Cadi, possibly through both her sire and dam. This didn’t mean much to him at the time, but he has now recognised that he fell on his feet with the breeding of Fire Fly. (Refer to page 83 of the book “42 Years of Elite Campdraft Breeding” for a profile of Cadi/Kadi).
Mark described Fire Fly as 14.2 hands high, “pretty headed and pretty faced” chestnut mare of “good shape, not high headed, very feminine, not heavy boned, soft to ride outside, real cowy and big hearted” with tremendous try. He proudly states “She never let me down”; “she was real special”.
Fire Fly won her first Open campdraft at Widgee when she was just a maiden. Incidentally it was Mark’s first draft win also. It was shortly after this that Wally Rea apparently offered Alben Perrett $20,000 for Elgin Vale Cadelle. Alben then offered Mark $10,000 for Fire Fly. Mark recalls Alben’s reasoning as being that he could sell Cadelle, buy Fire Fly, have some money left over and still have a real good horse. However Mark refused the offer partly because of Fire Fly being his “first cow horse” and partly because he recognised her as being special. To put this offer in perspective, at that time $10,000 could almost buy two new cars outright!
After campdrafting her for a while Mark then put her to use as a brood mare and she produced 11 foals. At some time during her breeding career Mark thought he would get Fire Fly back in work “now he knew a bit more” and see how she’d go. She won 3 Open drafts straight. However it has been her potency as a dam that has made Fire Fly’s mark in the campdrafting world. Mark says of the offspring she produced he “didn’t ride a bad one”.
Of note was Fire Fly’s breeding to Greg Warren’s Darwin Doc to produce the mare Almora Recoil II, while Mark was competing on Darwin in the campdrafting circuit. Recoil placed 9th in the 2002 Warwick Gold Cup, 6th in the 2005 Warwick Gold Cup and placed 11th in the 2012 Canning Downs, all with Mark in the saddle.
The next stand out breeding was when Fire Fly was bred to Kent Furgerson’s cutting stallion Docs Argyle to produce the mare Almora Abigail, who won the 2008 Acton Super Beef with Mark and placed 2nd in the 2009 Acton Super Beef at Paradise Lagoons with Jackie Knudsen when Mark was unable to ride her as he had broken his arm.
This successful cross was duplicated when Fire Fly was again joined to Argyle to produce the mare Almora Angie, who was drafted as “Swallow” by Graham McKenzie. Swallow placed 7th in the 2004 Acton Super Beef at Paradise Lagoons.
The 2001 mating to Mark and Wendy Buttsworth’s successful campdraft stallion, Almora QP Double Doc, produced the mare Almora Double Dove. Dove placed 2nd in the 2011 Warwick Gold Cup with Mark. Interestingly in that particular year Mark and Recoil won the Champion of Champions at Warwick for the second year in a row and Swallow came second. A memorable year for Fire Fly progeny.
Fire Fly died of old age after spending her whole life on “Almora”.
(Information taken from interview with Mark Buttsworth)