Addington Welcome to The Addington Harness Hall of Fame.

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MILE RECORD: Evolution


The first horse to break 2:10 in New Zealand was Ribbonwood, who set the mile mark at Addington against time in 1903. He was driven by his owner-trainer, D J Price.

This record stood until 1911, when a son of Ribbonwood, King Cole, lowered it to 2:08 3-5, also against time, and at Addington. King Cole was owned by Mr R O Duncan and trained and driven by N L Price.

By 1915 a champion mare, Country Belle, a great sprinter as well as a stayer, was sent against the watch at Addington. Owned and trained by Mr W J Morland, and driven by James Bryce, Country Belle clipped more than a second off the record by registering 2:07 1-5.

The following season the Australian-bred mare Adelaide Direct, owned, trained and driven by M Edwards, lowered the record to 2:06 2-5 at Auckland.

The 1920-21 season saw Our Thorpe, driven by his owner, A Fleming, attack the record at Addington and reduce it by a fraction to 2:06 1-5.

This stood until the 1922-23 season, when the Australian-bred pacer Happy Voyage, driven by her owner-trainer W J Tomkinson, registered 2:04 1-5, also against the watch, at New Brighton on April 14, 1923. This was also a world grass-track record. The files state that Happy Voyage was paced by War Bond (ridden by A D Chapman), and Olwyn (driven by J N Clarke).

The mile record was next lowered in a race. This was in the November Free-For-All at the 1924 New Zealand Cup meeting. Run from a flying start, the race was won byMr J R (later Sir John) McKenzie's Acron, trained by J J Kennerley and driven by A Butterfield, in the then sensational time of 2:03 3-5. The second horse, Realm, also fractured 2:04.

In 1934 two champion Australian pacers, Walla Walla and Auburn Lad visited New Zealand for match races. At a special matinee meeting at Addington both pacers were set against the mile record. Walla Walla, who was suffering from a cold, registered 2:03 4-5. Auburn Lad, driven by his owner-trainer, W McKay lowered the record by a considerable margin when he clocked 2:02 2-5.

The following season Indianapolis, also at Addington, was successful in his attack on the record, his time being 2:01 2-5; and two seasons later, in 1936-37, he made a successful onslaught on his own record when he registered 2:00 2-5, again at Addington. Indianapolis was owned by Mr G J Barton. In his first record run he was driven by E C McDermott, and in the second by J Fraser, Jnr. F C Dunlevey was his trainer.

Two seasons elapsed before the record was again attacked, and the perfect-gaited Australian unhoppled pacer Lawn Derby, owned by Mr J MacKenny, and trained and driven by W J O'Shea, made history by doing the mile in 1:59 2-5 at Addington in November, 1938. This was not only the first two-minute mile hoisted in the Dominion, but the first time such figures had been made outside the United States.

Gold Bar, 1:59 3-5 and Haughty 1:59 3-5, made valiant attempts to beat Lawn Derby's figures in the years between the retirement of Lawn Derby and the rise of Highland Fling.

At his first attempt on the record, a week after his second New Zealand Cup victory in 1948, Highland Fling went 1:59 2-5, thus equalling Lawn Derby's time; a few days later Highland Fling went again, this time putting up the sensational figures of 1:57 4-5, sensational because the usual procedure in trials against time is a strong warm-up and the assistance of a galloping pacemaker. L F Berkett, trainer-driver of Highland Fling dispensed with both! The spectacle of "The Flings" lone role was a thrilling one, and there the record has remained for 11 years.

Credit: 'Ribbonwood' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 18Nov59

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