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BRAHMAN - Enigma

BRAHMAN - Enigma

Here was a trotting fan's dream. He was by one world record holder at a mile and NZ Cup winner Gold Bar, from another world record holder and dual NZ Cup winner Haughty. They had once had a match race at a picnic meeting which Haughty just won...and here was their second foal setting a world record for a mile as an unraced two year old at Addington.

The world seemed to be his oyster. But there was a flaw in the brilliant Brahman's DNA and it was soon to emerge from the results of crossing the blood of the two Cup winners. However that is not to underrate his great time trial at Addington in June 1953. Brahman paced the mile in 2:02.2 in perfect conditions. Ok you say, hardly earth shattering. Well it was. It took SIX SECONDS off the Australasian record for a two year old. It was only 1.8 seconds outside the world pacing juvenile record of Knight Dream. Owner Ben Grice had hoped for 2:04. Allan Holmes, owner of Gold Bar who organised the trial worked him 800m in a minute a few days before also thought 2:04 was probable. But nearly two seconds quicker is a huge cut over a mile. At the time this trial caused high excitement.

Brahman was no failure. He made NZ Cup class, ran in a NZ Cup and won some nice races. Sent to Cecil Donald when Grice had run out of ideas early on he received the supreme compliment from the first trainer to have 1000 winners here. He said Brahman was the best horse he had trained. But the mental strength was never quite there. Brahman couldn't master the standing start and niggling injuries affected him. He didn't make classic company at three winning his second race at Hawera. He worked through the classes but broke hopelessly in the 1956 Cup, his only attempt at the race and finished last. Again. But he was sixth favourite because "if he went away..."

At least he was a lot more successful than his brother Whiz. Whiz was, to put it bluntly, as mad as a hatter. Holmes sent him on a West Coast circuit and he was a sensation winning his first three races easily. He featured in the newspapers as a horse who enjoyed a beer after his races. But he did not enjoy a long career and quickly disappeared from the racing scene as unmanageable. Two wise racing men, Grice and Holmes had worked out by then that foals by Gold Bar from Haughty might not be what they seemed on paper.

Haughty left a much more sensible horse in Jaunty to Josedale Grattan and he won a number of nice races starting with the Sapling Stakes. But he wasn't a match for Brahman whose brilliant performance as a 2yo still ranks right up there.

If only he could have begun.

Credit: David McCarthy writing in Harnessed July 2016

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