The Peter Williams Story - as featured in Horse Deals Magazine.
05TH Sep, 2018
Lives? 25 acre property in South East Queensland.
Pets/horses? An Arabian Pony ‘Burren-dah True Blue’, who caught my eye at the Burren-dah auction.
Family background with horses? I grew up in a Thoroughbred racing family. My father, Gordon Williams was a jockey and went on to become one of Queensland’s leading horse trainers. He trained stayers, and had between 12 - 14 horses at any one time. He won the Brisbane Cup and Oaks, with ‘Mode’, the Ipswich Cup with ‘Makata’, and numerous middle distance races to mention just a few.
My father didn’t encourage me to be a jockey and it was my uncle that taught me to ride. I remember one day when I was riding a racehorse, under the guidance of my uncle, when she heard the hoofbeats of some others coming up behind her. Despite not being out of a walk, the mare decided the race was on and she had to win and took off! Instead of my uncle being concerned for my welfare, he amusingly yelled out to not let go of the horse as he didn’t want the valuable racehorse getting loose, and I hung on for dear life! Sadly no-one in my family is in the racing industry as such now. My dad was a great mate, and I have really missed him since he passed away in 1988.
Do you have any memorable racing experiences? I was at the track the day the ‘Fine Cotton’ scandal occurred and saw it unfold. The brown TB gelding was at the centre of a ‘ring-in’ scandal when he was substituted for another horse (with the infamous white sock that started to run!). This scandal involved some of
Another time I remember being in the enclosure with my father on a major race day, when the Chairman of the
Queensland Turf Club came over to talk to my father with another gentleman by his side. After they left, I asked my father who the other fellow was, as he had looked familiar, at which point my father said, “It was none other than the Governor you bloody fool!”
Any memorable riding achievements? Staying on! I used to ride the three stable ponies and there were too many horses to name just one favourite, they were all great in their own way. Despite all the horses I had ridden, the one that I broke my leg from was a little pony when I was about 14 years old. We were at a private racetrack on a property at Cambooya. My young mate and I thought it would be fun to line our ponies up at the starting gates. When the ponies jumped out, the pony my friend was riding kicked out and got me in the leg and broke it! I was taken to Toowoomba Hospital and spent three months with a cast on my leg!
Any other work history prior to Peter Williams Riding Apparel? During my teenage years I would attend races with my father. I was a registered strapper and would attend to the horses on race day.
How did Peter Williams Riding Apparel come to being? I lived my life around racing, although it was my choice to leave school at Sandgate and become a tailor. I had an aunt who was a keen dressmaker and milliner and I started my tailor’s apprenticeship at the age of 15 with JT Hamilton. I worked under his guidance for about four years.
In later years, I spent three years in ladies fashion and during this time I was approached and asked if I could make jockey breeches by two of Brisbane’s top riders. This led to “Peter Williams Jockey Outfitters”, a saddlery shop at Ascot, owned solely by myself. The shop was exclusively for racing, and where I made racing colours and jockey breeches.
I then decided to try my hand at 'pony club' type stretch jodhpurs and the battle began! This took a lot of time and
patience, but finally I perfected/drafted the patterns for stretch fabric.
You have provided jodhpurs/breeches to some notable clients, tell us about these. I have supplied the NSW, Qld, WA & Vic. Police with their breeches for many years now. In 2012, I supplied the NSW Mounted Police with their Ceremonial Breeches when they were presented to the Queen of England, as part of their performance at her Diamond Jubilee Pageant. Fortunately I had established a great reputation for quality riding breeches this being the reason the police contacted me to fulfil their contracts.
I also had the exciting opportunity to provide fabrics (and design tips) for the design of Nicole Kidman’s breeches in the movie, ‘Australia’ and I also provided breeches for ‘Wonderland’ on Channel 10.
Every year though, we provide riding apparel to some of the top riders in Australia and New Zealand and send jodhpurs around the globe.
Tell us about 2007 and the impact of equine influenza. Equine influenza hit me just as much as the rest of the
horse industry. Times were tough, but like everyone else, we concentrated on our core products that people were still requiring for use at home and made sure we had stock for when it was all over.
Highlights so far? My work has taken me to a lot of places around the world. I’ve met a lot of interesting people in many areas of the equine industry, from the top jockeys in horse racing, to the equestrian riders from pony clubs, right up to the elite levels of showing, and the police motor cyclists and mounted police.
I proudly made Gunsynd the very first set of racing colours he ever carried. (Gunsynd was a brilliant miler that is the only horse to win Australia’s four Group 1 miles - Epsom, Toorak, Emirates and Doncaster - in the one season.)
Another memorable time was seeing a full field of about 15 jockeys line up at Eagle Farm, all wearing breeches and racing colours, made and outfitted by myself.
Mentors or people who have been significant during your career: The skilled tailors I’ve been lucky enough to work with, including the tailor that taught me to draft jodhpur patterns, William Smith; and Otto Ponweiser, who taught me quality and perfection.
I would like to take the opportunity here to thank everyone who has helped me over the years, as I could not have done all of this on my own.
Who/what has influenced trends and fashion for Peter Williams Riding Apparel? Feedback from all levels of
riders in general, and we continue to listen to them every day, to this day! We are constantly paying fine attention
to quality of fabrics, design and rider comfort and performance.
If you could, what advice would you give your 15yo self? Set your goals and stick to them. No matter how tough it gets, stay true to yourself. Oh, and... stay at school and get an education!
What are the most important core values to Peter Williams Riding Apparel? Value for money, quality, well-fitting garments, backed up by great customer service. I am involved in every aspect of my business, from design, to production, to quality control, to sales and distribution, as well as being present at nearly every photo shoot, to make sure our products are displayed at its best.
If you were to create a ‘Bucket List’ what would be some of the things included on the list? I have been
lucky enough to see the world, but know that I live in the best country of them all. I would love to see more of Australia.
We hear you manufacture riding apparel in India, tell us about that:
I now manufacture in India and have been for the last 16 years, thanks to being recommended to an Indian gentleman and now very good friend, Mr Sid Kapoor. He had machines etc and wanted to make jodhpurs and
didn’t know where to start. On my arrival in India, I don’t think I did either. It was another world, what a life changing experience! The heat, the culture, the crowds and the traffic in the streets seemed to be utter chaos. However I was made to feel welcome and taken very good care of. I now have many special friends there, they are lovely people.
One young man in particular, Bikash, is a master tailor in his own right, and we have worked very closely over the years. He always tells me he has learnt a lot from me, but as I tell him, he has taught me much also! Thanks to his hard work and cooperation, as well as the sewing skills of the men in the factory who put our product together, you are wearing the quality breeches and jodhpurs we have today.