Addington Welcome to The Addington Harness Hall of Fame.

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Harness Racing in New Zealand is one of the most popular forms of equestrian sport. There is nothing more exciting than owning and racing a harness horse.

Addington Harness Hall of Fame is proud to be a part of this wonderful club and venue and we will be there for many more years to come bringing you the great moments of the past and those of the future.

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In December 1900 Mr G H McHaffie, who was not only a Committeeman of the NZMTC but also a member of the NZ Trotting Association, expressed the view that the three Trotting Clubs around Christchurch should combine to form one strong central body racing at the Metropolitan’s course at Addington. He was of the opinion that a great deal would depend on the attitude of the Colonial Secretary but that if Plumpton Park and New Brighton Trotting Clubs were to throw in their lot with the Metropolitan Club such centralization could only be of gain to the sport. An amalgamation of the three Clubs would rub off all the corners and place the Metropolitan Club in a sound financial position and enable it to make many improvements which would be of direct benefit to the public.

In February 1905 it was reported that the popular Trotting Club Secretary, Mr A I Rattray, had married Mrs Mace, widow of Mr H Mace soft-drink manufacturer of New Brighton. Mr Mace was a Committeeman of the Canterbury Trotting Club and was prominent in the affairs of the New Brighton Trotting Club and its course.

Without doubt history has a habit of repeating itself as in January 1906 a report stated:

“The lot of a caretaker of a Trotting ground is not a happy one and Mr French, the hard-working and painstaking custodian of the Metropolitan Trotting Club’s grounds, is just now finding this out. He has gates open from five in the morning until nine at night and does everything he possibly can for the convenience of the trainers who are still not happy. Trainers pay about seven pence a week licence fee for training on the Metropolitan grounds and such a very modest cost for such great facilities ought to make them deeply grateful instead of discontented.”

A report in the NZ REFEREE of 31st July 1907 stated that Messrs T H Davie, M H R Hood-Williams and C Hood-Williams waited on Sir Joseph Ward in regard to Trotting and the Gaming Bill. They pointed out to the Premier that the Bill as originally drafted made no provision for Trotting and the deputation asked that he include Trotting in the next measure. It was also pointed out that if the clause that no racecourse should be less than six furlongs was adhered to, Trotting would not be possible on the Metropolitan Club’s Course which was only five furlongs in length. In reply to the deputation the Premier promised to look into the matter and give it his best consideration.

In August 1911 a deputation representing the NZ Metropolitan, Canterbury Park and New Brighton Trotting Clubs waited on the Hon. D E Buddo, Minister of Internal Affairs, to protest against the reductions imposed on those Clubs by the findings of the Racing Commission. The Hon. Charles Louisson pointed out that of the eleven days by which Trotting had been reduced throughout the Dominion eight had been taken from the local Clubs and the Ashburton Club. The Minister said that the protest made by the deputation would be recorded but he was personally unable to do anything in the matter as the Commission had been set up by Parliament. Referring to the deputation the media expressed the view that the three Clubs were not well-advised to be continually worrying about the reduction of their days as together they had seventeen days racing, the Metropolitan Club having nine days and Brighton and Canterbury Park four days each. It was pointed out that of the fifty one days trotting for the whole of New Zealand the three Christchurch Clubs had no fewer than seventeen and that in spite of this they were still not satisfied. It was pointed out that the people were paying more for their sport at Addington than they did in the previous year and that judging from the decrease in stakes they were not getting such good sport for their money. The article went on to say that the Metropolitan Club had spent a large amount of money provided by the public in making a grand place for the sport of trotting but the Commission had pointed out that the tenure was unsatisfactory and recommended that the Club should acquire the freehold or the right to race permanemtly on the present ground at a fixed rental. Instead of asking for the moon, the article continued, the Hon. Charles Louisson and his fellow Committeemen should see whether they cannot obtain some fixture of tenure and secure for the people a permanent right to the enjoyment of the grounds an buildings which have been improved and erected at a cost of some £40,000 which money has been provided by the public.

In the NZ REFEREEof 15th November 1911 it was reported that Mr A I Rattray, Secretary of the NZMTC bred Cleveland, the sire of Clive which dead-heated with Quincy in the Dominion Handicap at Addington.

In October 1912 it was reported that Mr H E Goggin, the clerical assistant to Mr Rattray at the office of the NZMTC, returned to Christchurch after a holiday spent in Australia, mostly in Sydney and Melbourne.

A report in the NZ REFEREE of 9th April 1913 stated that a very well deserved tribute was paid to Mr A I Rattray, Secretary of the three trotting clubs of Christchurch, when on the first day of the NZMTC’s Easter Meeting at Addington he was presented with a handsome silver tea and coffee service and salver as a mark of the Clubs’ appreciation of his services to the sport. The Hon. Charles Louisson, President of the NZMTC, in making the presentation said that as most of those present were aware Mr Rattray had recently taken a trip to America for the benefit of his health and they were glad to see he had returned fully restored. It is largely due to Mr Rattray’s efforts, he continued, that the sport of trotting had reached the high standard it now held and the Clubs felt that the present was a good opportunity to show how they valued Mr Rattray’s work. Mr Howell, President of the Canterbury Park Trotting Club and Mr Archer, President of the New Brighton Trotting Club also spoke briefly of their appreciation of Mr Rattray’s services. Mr Rattray in his reply expressed his thanks for the kindness which had been shown him and said that what he had done for the sport had been done as a labour of love.

In August 1913 it was reported that Mr E C McDermott had joined the professional ranks and scored a couple of good wins with Rosalie which had won two of the Trotters’ races at he Augus Meeting.

In March 1914 in the Supreme Court, Christchurch, a claim by Clifford Tasker against the NZMTC for £750 damages in respect of injuries sustained by the trotting horse Michael Gillander was heard before Mr Justice Dennison and a special jury. Tasker also claimed £40 damages being the sum paid the Veterinary Surgeon in connection with the horse’s injuries. Tasker stated that while training his horse around the track he saw a draught mare coming towards him at a gallop and the mare hit Michael Gillander on the left side near the shoulder knocking him over. His horse fell on top of the witness who had been flung from the sulky and then scrambled to its feet and galloped around the track. In the opinion of the jury the gates were insecurely fastened thus allowing the draught mare to get onto the track and it found the Club liable on various counts and granted damages of £200.

Under the heading of “Athletics” in the NZ REFEREE of 19th August 1914 it was reported that

“C S Thomas, the Dominion half-mile champion, ran third in his heat in the A A A Championships at Stamford Bridge when, by breaking the standard time, he won a bronze medal.”

The Chairman of the Auckland Trotting Club, Mr John Rowe, attended the NZMTC’s 1915 Cup Meeting and afterwards said that he had been much impressed with the Course, its facilities and the class of trotting presented. The way the public supported the sport had been an eye opener to him. This was his first visit to Addington and he freely recognized that the standard of trotting in Christchurch was quite phenomenal.

In the NZ REFEREE of 23rd January 1918 it was reported:

“At eleven o’clock last Thursday morning when the NZ Metropolitan track was practically deserted by trainers an unexpected visit was paid to the grounds by Mr C M Hill the well-known aviator of Sockburn who, owing to engine trouble at an altitude of 2000 feet, found it necessary to descend to the Grounds. As the trouble could not be repaired on the spot the machine was later taken to Sockburn by lorry to receive attention.”

Credit: NZMTC: Historical Notes compiled by D C Parker

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