January 10 - Tramway to New Brighton completed.
February 14 - Telephone link to Dunedin opens.
July 6 - Heavy floods. 3 young men drown in the Avon River as a result of a boating mishap
NZ's first national park, Tongariro, is presented to the nation by Te Heuheu Tukino IV
The Ch-Ch city council gets its first purpose-built offices, which are still standing, across Worcester Boulevard from the Scott statue.
Credit: Ch-Ch City Libraries
The last meeting of 1887-8 was held in July and in August the CANTERBURY TIMES reported there appeared to be a problem with successful owners not being paid out.
It transpired the meeting had been run solely by Mr E S B Bell, who was now adjudged bankrupt. Quite a scandal erupted and investigations revealed that Mr Bell's licence to run the meeting under the name of Plumpton Park had been granted by the Canterbury Jockey Club, which, for no apparent reason, had refused a similar request from a Mr M Taylor.
Stewards of the Club in those days were liable for the payment of stake-money but Mr Bell was found to have advertised his meeting without including the names of the stewards or other officials on the day.
The owners and public had contributed some £160 to Mr Bell and there should have been enough to pay out the stake-money and still leave some £40 over.
Mr Bell appears to have dropped out of sight, but the scandal continued.
Credit: CPTC: Centennial History
Jimmy Brown the first horse to win twice on one city programme - back in 1887 - rose to fame between the shafts of the Akaroa coach his time feats causing Emerson Clarkson to buy him for racing. Jimmy, a track star too, eventually went blind. That was why one day at Heathcote he ran off and crashed into the river where his driver had to strip off to save him from drowning.
Credit: David McCarthy writing in HRWeekly 28 Mar 2012
TROTTING AT LANCASTER PARK
How many of the thousands of people who pack the stands and the embankment of Lancaster Park to watch football matches realise that there was a trotting course there many years ago?
It was in 1887 that the Lancaster Park Amatuer Trotting Club was formed. For 22 years it carried on. Then in 1899 the Lancaster Park, Heathcote and Canterbury Trotting Clubs amalgamated, and became the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club.
One of the earliest competitors in trotting races on the ground now given over to football, cricket, hockey and other athletic sports was the late Bert Edwards, noted trainer and driver. A story which he once told of a race at Heathcote may be mentioned. Those were the 'break and turn' days of trotting in Canterbury, when every horse that 'broke' had to be turned round before it was allowed to trot on. The first horse that Bert Edwards owned was Fidget. This was his story:-
"I nominated my new purchase for a trotting race that was to be run on the Heathcote Racecourse. The race was won by a horse called Conger, ridden by Alf Keith, a grey horse, Erin, ridden by George Burke, being second, and the stallion, Victor, ridden by Johnnie Rodriques, was third, with Fidget fourth. The race was a regular fiasco. The first horse, Conger, was disqualified for having won a race at the head of the Bays, which was not put on his entry form. Erin was disqualified for turning the wrong way when he broke and Victor was disqualified for galloping along the back of the course and failing to pull up and turn. I finished fourth on Fidget, and had the only ticket on my horse on the totalisator. As there was only first and second money, I did not weigh in and so the race was declared null and void, all moneys being returned, less 10% to the investors. One of the Stewards, the late Mr Barney Hale, came to me, and said,'Well my boy if you had weighed in you would have got the lot.' That was not a very good experience for a kick-off, was it?"
Edwards continued:-"Somewhere about this time the Lancaster Park Amateur Trotting Club was formed, and came out with a programme. It's track was a very small one, being three laps and 40 yards to the mile. I entered Fidget for the principal race, which was a three-mile one. This race he won, going the three miles without a break, the time being 9mins dead. The grey horse, Erin, ridden by the late Dan O'Brien, finished second. Alf Keith, who at that time was considered the champion rider of trotters, was third on a bay mare called Malvina. Fidget, by winning the big race at the Lancaster Park Amateur Club's inaugural meeting, can I think, claim to be the first winner of an open race this club held. The club's first race was a maiden event, all off the one mark, and was won by the late David Barnes, with a bay mare called Winnie. Later, I sold Fidget to George Burke, now of Melbourne. Some years later Burke rode him three miles on the Show Grounds, Christchurch, winning the race in 8mins, which was a NZ record for that distance for some years.
"Shortly after the start of the Lancaster Park Amateur Trotting Club, a new club was formed at Addington, called the Canterbury Trotting Club - that used to race on the Show Grounds. Of this club I was one of the first members. Three of the stewards were appointed to frame the handicaps: W Kerr, Tom Walker and myself. We made such a good job of it that none of us won a race, whereupon we all decided that we would not take it on again. At the next meeting of the club, two of the stewards were appointed: Mr Alex Duncan and Mr H Brinkman. Later, Mr Duncan fell out of it for business reasons, but Mr Brinkman continued to become a leading handicapper.
"A year or two later, the Lancaster Park Club put on a free-for-all - it was not so designated in those days - of two miles off the one mark. The three best horses in Christchurch then were Wait-a-While, Daisy and Plunger. Wait-a-While was trained by the late C Kerr, Daisy was owned by Alf Dunn, and Plunger by myself. The conditions of the race were for three horses to start or only half of the stake to be paid. On entry night C Kerr and I met Alf Dunn. He said that he had no chance and did not intend to enter. Kerr and I each thought we could beat Daisy, and as we wanted the full stake, we tried hard to get Dunn to nominate. At last he said,'Well, if you like to pay up for her, I will put her in.' We did so. The track was three laps and 40 yards to the mile, and was very heavy because of recent rains. Alf Dunn with Daisy, drew the inside position, and Wait-a-While second, Plunger being on the outside. The inside going was much the best. The outside, which recently had been banked up with soil, on account of the small turns, was very heavy; my horse was going in almost to his fetlocks. Well, Daisy went to the front and, although tiring badly, won by half-a-length from Plunger, and got the race. It is needless to say we did not pay up any more for other peoples horses. This Daisy was a great trotting mare and later went to Melbourne. Wait-a-While and Plunger were both by thoroughbred horses. Wait-a-While being by Albany, and Plunger by Wrangler. Wait-a-While was a speedy horse and a great stayer.
"Somewhere about this time there was in Christchurch a crack bike rider - I think his name was Webb - hailing from Australia, and a discussion arose as to which would win a match: Trotting horses against a bicycle. The match was duly fixed up to take place on Lancaster Park over 10 miles; the trotting horseman to have two horses. The race eventuated, the two horses being ridden by Alf Keith, who was considered on of the crack riders in those days. His horses were Wait-a-While and a bay mare called Malvina. He rode the horses five miles each and beat the bike by over a lap. The 'bike' was one of the old-fashioned high-wheelers.
"The Lancaster Park track being so small, was very confusing, as in some of the three-mile races the limits were as much as 75sec from the scratch horse. The horse on the limit would often be once around before the back-marker started; so you can just imagine how confusing it was. A bell would ring when the leading horse entered on his last lap. Some of the old-time trotters that were running in those days were the late F Mulholland's grey gelding, Doctor, R Sutherland's Cock Robin, and Kirkwood's Our Pony, later named Betsy. This pony, which came from Wanganui, was a champion and could hold her own with all comers. A little previous to the time I am talking about, this little mare was matched, for a good sum, to trot Native Cat, which was the best horse they had down south in those days. Our Pony, ridden by W Thompson, won the match."
Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 8Nov44
There is an very comprehensive and interesting article on this early rider and driver in the July/August 2009 issue of the Harness Racing International Magazine (Volume 11/No.4).
It is well worth a read. - Colin Steele
Credit: John Peck writing in Harness Racing International Magazine