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BLAST FROM THE PAST


TREVOR THOMAS - Horseman

TREVOR THOMAS

Trevor Thomas, a special guest at the Methven Trotting Club's centenary celebrations in October, died suddenly in Christchurch earlier this week, in his 77th year.

His father, Lou, was a respected Canterbury horseman associated with several useful horse including Purser, Huon Voyage, Battle Colours and Excelsa.

After three years at Christchurch Boys High, Thomas left school at 15 to work for his father. "I helped him for the best part of 10 years, and after I thought I knew enough, I decided to go out on my own. Then, after I was married I got a job working for the railways to pay the house off, and then went back to the horses."

Thomas still vividly recalls his first winner, Waroonga, at Addington in 1947. "It was just after my 21st birthday, and one of my father's owners gave me £5. My mother suggested I should put it on Waroonga, saying I must be a poor driver if I couldn't back my own horse. I ended up putting £2 each-way on him and he won paying £175 to win, and £27 for a place. It was a record at Addington for some time."

Thomas trained 88 winners and drove 108 during his career. Some of the more notable performers included Jaunty Hanover, Canis Minor, Lopez MacFaber, Genesis and Alec Peterson. "Canis Minor was the best I had. He wasn't blessed with natural speed or brilliance, but he would just grind the opposition into the ground. He won the Pan Am Mile Consolation in 1980. He went 1:57 earlier in the night, and then Lord Module came out and won the final later on in perfect conditions. I reckon we would have run him close if we had started in the final. He also won an Inter-Dominion heat at Harold Park in Sydney, breaking the track record in his first start there."

Genesis was another top-liner for Thomas. After winning the Sapling Stakes as a juvenile, Genesis went on to win another 9 races, before being sold to North American interests. "I always maintained he was a horse we never saw the best of," Thomas said. "I also drove a few good ones. Joy Boy was a great old campaigner who used to win races off huge handicaps. I was behind him when he won the Manawatu Cup off 85m, and the Hawera Cup from 90m. He was a great grass-tracker and loved the mud, but had bad legs. I drove Lord Louie to win a New Brighton Cup, and I won a lot of 'Country Cups'in the 70s."

Thomas was also associated with the brilliant squaregaiter Stormy Morn, winner of 32 races including the 1981 Dominion Handicap and the 1982 Rowe Cup. "His owner Peter Moore brought him to me after he had been turned away by several others. I qualified him within a month, and then raced him. In his first season he started 21 times and got 21 cheques. Then he was given to Tony Perucich up North, going on to be a terrific trotter."

Thomas is no stranger to race accidents. He has broken a leg, an ankle, an arm, an elbow, has had several bouts of concussion and even cracked his spine in one skirmish. "Half my problem was staying in the cart," he quipped. His last driving success was at Reefton in 1990 behind Megavite. "I wouldn't mind another drive just to get the feel of it again. But when you get to my age, if you haven't done any good then it is either your own fault or you're no good. Besides, the style of driving has changed so much. It is all get up and go these days, and it becomes fairly low key to us older ones."

"In fact so much has changed. People used to get dressed up and go out to the races frequently. It was a big social occasion, but now if you have got a horse in with half an hour between races it is too rushed. But now they are bringing in Sunday racing, and it may help pick up the up the atmosphere again. It would have been no go in my day, but now I guess you have to keep up with the times. I think it may be a good thing though."

Thomas has no doubts as to who the best horse he has seen is. "It would definitely have to be Highland Fling. He was amazing. Although it is hard to make comparisons, if he was racing under today's conditions, he would be even better."

"And when I look back, I would not have missed it for the world. I've had a lot of fun and enjoyment."

Credit: NZ HRWeekly 4Jun92

 
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