Affectionately known as “Old Bill”, Hands Down was old school, nothing flashy in appearance, just tough as teak. The 1975 brown Armbro Del gelding from Fallacy mare Snow Chick, was bred and raced by Omarama farmer Bill (WH) and wife Fay (MF) McAughtrie. Bill McAughtrie was a one-time President of Kurow TC.
Hands Down was the best performer by Armbro Del and retired the greatest winning horse at Addington Raceway where he won 23 races from 61 starts (placed on another 13 occasions) surpassing Lordships record of 21 wins. As comparisons, Terror To Love 16/31 wins), Blossom Lady (17/26), Christen Me (17/28) and Monkey King (19/39) have/did not exceed his Addington winning tally.
Racing from three years old (only start at three, unplaced at non tote Waitaki TC meeting on 27 July 1979) until his retirement following the running of the 1985 Ashburton Cup held on Boxing Day (finishing last off 55m), his 108 starts in NZ produced 31 victories, five second placings and twelve thirds for earnings of $308,100. He raced unsuccessfully in Australia on seven occasions for earnings of $850. His full career stats were : 115 : 31 – 5 – 12, $308,950. His best mile rate was 1:59.7 recorded over 2000m (2:28.8) at the New Brighton meeting on 17 September 1982. He retired holding two national records for a gelding or entire – 2000m stand 2:31.8 and 2400 stand 3:02.2.
Hands Down’s five Group One’s all came at Addington (NZ Cup/FFA, 3 Easter Cups) while eight of his ten Group race wins were at Addington (above plus Alan Matson FFA, White Heron Lodge FFA Christchurch Airport Travelodge FFA), the remaining two being an Interdominion Consolation (his only success at Alexandra Park) and a Kaikoura Cup. At the 1980 Cup carnival he completed a rare and prestigious treble of NZ Cup, NZFFA and Alan Matson FFA.
Hands Down staying prowess is best illustrated with his eight victories at the extreme distance of 3200m (6 at Addington including NZ Cup, 3 Easter Cups, CPTC Winter Cup) plus Waikato Cup at 2900m. A quarter of his wins coming from standing starts over two miles distance.
Hands Down 1980 NZ Cup
His other major wins included 4 Louisson Hcps, 2 National Hcps, Canterbury Park Winter Cup – all at Addington; Waikato Cup and Tiwai 4/5yo Championship. He recorded placings in the following major races :
- seconds at Addington in New Brighton Cup, NZFFA; Couplands Mile (Timaru 1:56.2, beaten neck by Bonnies Chance), Hannon Memorial
- thirds at Addington in New Brighton Cup, NZ Cup, NZFFA, Louisson Hcp, Easter Cup, Pan Am Mile; Hannon Memorial, Auckland Cup.
- fourths at Addington in Alan Matson FFA, Easter Cup, NZ Cup; Hannon Memorial
- fifths at Addington in NZFFA; Auckland Cup, ID heat, Inter- Island Challenge Sakes
Hands Down was trained throughout his career by legendary Derek Jones (except for seven starts for Ossie Hooper during which he won Waikato Cup driven by Richard Hoper), son Peter Jones handled him for twenty seven victories with those to record a solitary win each with him being Robert Cameron, Derek Jones, Richard Hooper and Derek Jones’s grandson, then junior driver Anthony Butt.
Hands Down was humanely destroyed in February 1987 after breaking his shoulder in a paddock accident on the North Otago farm of his owners that he retired to.
Already an inductee into the NZ Trotting Hall of Fame, Hands Down now rightfully takes his place amongst the elite Standardbreds to have graced Addington Raceway as a 2015 inductee to the Addington Harness Hall of Fame.