January - Shops and Offices Amendment Act ends Saturday shopping, but New Brighton gains an exemption to allow Saturday trading to continue.
Universal Family Benefit of £1 per week introduced
Credit: Ch-Ch City Libraries
TROTTING ANCIENT AND MODERN
How many of the thousands of people who will assemble at Addington on Saturday to witness the 43rd contest for the NZ Trotting Cup have any idea what trotting was like when first established in this province? In the coming race will be found horses which are the acme of physical fitness and grace. Sixty years ago at any meeting you would have been confronted with the clumsy efforts of horses that, only a few days previously, had been earning their oats between the shafts of a butcher's, baker's or grocer's cart.
Yes, the progress of this humbler racing sport has been as meteoric as to make one wonder where its limitations will cease. For instance, when Bert Edwards drove that grand old trotter, Monte Carlo, to victory in the first contest, the stake was only £300, and on a good track the winner took 4.44 2/5 to cover the two miles. In 1910 the value of the Cup had jumped to £1000; in 1913 it was £2000, and in 1929 it had gone up to £4000. Last season it reached £7500, thereby making it the richest stake ever given for a single light-harness race in the world. There has been a corresponding improvement in the times also. Monte Carlo's feat of going the journey in 4.44 2/5 was hailed as a great one at the time, but it looks insignificant when compared with Haughty's 4.13 3/5.
Away back in the seventies, on almost any general holiday and sometimes on Saturdays a band of sporting enthusiasts would meet on the New Brighton beach, near the present township. During the day about half-a-dozen events would be decided, some for trotters and some for gallopers. They were rough and ready meetings, and the prizes were usually of the utility order, such as a saddle, a bridle or even a whip. When the New Brighton Racing Club was formed these informal gatherings ceased. Mixed racing and trotting meetings were held on a new course for some years, but after a while the galloping element faded out and it was left to the New Brighton Trotting Club to carry on, which it has done successfully to this day.
It was the Lower Heathcote Racing Club, however, that did most to establish the light-harness sport. I wish that you enthusiasts who know trotting only as it is conducted at Addington today could journey with me to the Heathcote course as it was in the eighties. What a contrast you would notice. The old course was situated on the Sumner Road, just before you came to the bridge. All the arrangements were primitive.
My present concern, however, is more with those old-time trotters which, in their humble way, helped to lay the foundation as it is now. To a few present-day racegoers the names of such ancient celebrities as Fidget, Shakespeare, Sapphire, Bobby Burns, Maid of Munster, Narrow Gauge, Cock Robin, Wait A While, Chanticleer, Victor, Young Irvington and Long Roper will conjure up memories of the so-called 'Good old days.' Mention of Cock Robin brings to mind the fact that even Gloaming's trainer was an active participant in the trotting sport. Before becoming associated with Yaldhurst, Dick Mason owned Cock Robin and on one occasion rode him to victory in a race at Oamaru. The versatile Dick was just as finished an artist on the back of a trotter as in a galloper's saddle, and this particular win gave the ring a nasty jolt.
Amonst the regular competitors at Heathcote was a pony called Jimmy Brown, who, though blind, generally knew the shortest way to the winning post. Once Jimmy would not answer the helm and, swerving off the course, landed up in the Heathcote River. Both he and his rider had cause to remember that mishap. Perhaps the cheekiest ramp ever attempted at Heathcote was engineered by a then well-known bookmaker with a mare, originally grey. She won several races at country meetings, but a coat of brown paint transformed her into an unknown quantity when she stepped out at Heathcote. She won alright but, unfortunately, it was a hot day. When she pulled up the brown paint had run and she looked more like a zebra than a racehorse. So the fat was in the fire and there was weeping and wailing in the camp of the wrong-doers.
Most of the races were run under the saddle, and it was no unusual thing to find a good horse giving away up to 60sec to 90sec start, and even that concession failed to put the cracks out of court. For a long time the handicappers never made less than 5secs between any division of horses, for which there was probably a good reason. Under the rules when a horse broke, its rider was compelled to pull it up and turn round before going on with the business. When, as often happened, there were several that could not trot a furlong without getting in the air, the race savoured more of an equine circus or a Waltzing Matilda contest than a trial of speed. Just fancy a race at Addington with similar conditions. The Lower Heathcote Trotting Club died a natural death in 1893, but its memory lingers on.
When Lancaster Park was brought into being as a sports and cricket ground, difficulty was experienced in financing it. To help in this way a club known as the Lancaster Park Trotting Club was formed and held meetings on a three-laps-to-the-mile course, the same as that on which the bicycle races were run. The venture did not serve its purpose and its operations were subsequently taken over by a more practical body known as the Lancaster Park Amateur Trotting Club. Its meetings were well conducted and did much to popularise the sport. Another club that had a rather meteoric career was the Canterbury Trotting Club, with headquarters at the Addington Show Grounds. In the meantime the Lancaster Park Amateur Trotting Club, finding its headquarters all too small to accommodate the ever-increasing crowds, formed a course on the Twiggers Estate at Addington. This meant that two clubs were racing side by side, separated only by a tin fence. Naturally such a state of affairs could not go on, so eventually the Government forced the two bodies to amalgamate.
It was a fortunate move, for out of the amalgamation grew what is today the best-conducted and most influential club in all Australasia - the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club.
Credit: F C Thomas writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 30Oct46
In an interview with Mr H E Goggin, secretary of the three Christchurch Clubs, a Calendar representative was informed that the grounds committees of the Canterbury Park and NZ Metropolitan Trotting Clubs are going into the question of a new fence on the inside of the racetrack. The Clubs are looking for the latest and best developments in such fences, and it is realised, said Mr Goggin, that the subject is one requiring a considerable amount of thought.
When the present fence was erected there was no hub board on it. There was a feeling at that time that the fence was safer without a hub board because a driver dislodged from a sulky had a chance of rolling underneath for safety. Mr Goggin pointed out that that is why the present fence has such a lean on. Later, in response to popular feeling, a hub board was added. The present fence is 4ft 7in high and the bottom of the angle of the lean is 8in. The centre of the hub board is 13in above the ground. Inside the fence is a drain. With the constant cleaning and cutting away of this drain the bottom of the posts is becoming exposed, mainly because of the angle at which they were sunk.
The club staff at Addington have constructed a model of another type of fence, 3ft 6in high, with an angle of only 2½in. A good many, on the other hand, are of the opinion that the fence should be straight, like that on the New Brighton racecourse.
The grounds committees extended an invitation to the committee of the Canterbury Owners' and Breeders' Trotting Club with a view to having a railing placed around the inside of the training track at New Brighton with the purpose of accustoming horses to it. The club acceded to this request and erected a fence for two furlongs on the inside of the training track. The fence is only 3ft 6in high, with the acute angle of 1ft, and it has no hub board. It is understood that a number of trainers are well satisfied with this type of fence.
In America on most tracks there is merely a hub board and no top rail on the fence. It would appear from photographs in American journals that horses do not hug the rails as they do in this country. They spread right across the straight, so probably there is not the same necessity for a hub board as there is on most of the leading Dominion tracks. In America, too, said Mr Goggin, it was considered that the best type of track was of a mile, with quarter-mile bends and quarter-mile 'stretches' or straights. This, he said, is considered the ideal type of course for trotting at speed, and the proof of this is contained in the fact that all the major records were mad on such tracks.
Mr Goggin concluded by remarking that the proposed alteration to the inside track at Addington is a major job which is wrapped up with any alterations that may be made to the size and shape of the track.
Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 17Apr46
Photo-chart cameras are now installed on all the leading racecourses in the Dominion. This article is written to explain what is virtually a new idea in photography and to explain some of the many questions that are often asked about 'photo-finish.' Technicalities have been avoided as much as possible.
It is interesting to note that the original development of the movie camera was closely associated with racing, and was, in fact, evolved from experiments made with a series of ordinary fixed cameras fitted round a racetrack to take a sequence of pictures of horses galloping, these pictures later being pieced together to give some idea of sequence of movement.
Later there was developed a movie camera with a synchronised shutter to produce a series if still pictures of 'frames' which is the basis of the ordinary moving picture in use today. For some time high-speed movie cameras were used for deciding the finish of races, but were abandoned owing to the fact that, firstly, it commonly happened to be a point between two 'frames' on the film. Consequently the judge had to interpolate between the picture taken just before and the picture taken just after the actual finish. Secondly, there was the disadvantage that camera shutters did not photograph both inside and outside horses with equal advantage.
The first big advance to be made in the recording of race finishes was the innovation of what is known as the 'continuous strip' or 'slit' camera. The principle of this camera is that no shutter is used, but in its place is fitted a very narrow vertical slit with an opening of a few thousandths of an inch which enables the camera to 'see' across a narrow strip of track only a few inches wide right across the finish line. The film in the camera moves continuously past this slit at a speed synchronised with the speed of the horses. The camera is so set up that a horse is not photographed until it actually reaches the finish line and each horse in turn is recorded on the film as it passes the finish.
This system was used to quite a consideable extent in America, but did not find great favour due primarily to the fact that the photograph gave no indication whether or not the camera was accurately aligned across the finish line when the photogragh was taken. In other words there was nothing to show whether it took a photograph several feet before or after the finish. Another objection to this camera was the fact that there was no proof that a photograph of any race was in fact the photograph it putported to be. A few years ago what is known as the 'spinner' was invented and this revolutionised the whole situation.
The 'spinner' comprises a revolving drum fitted on the inside of the track at the finish line and rotating at a speed equivalent to the speed of the horses. On the outside of this drum is inscribed the name of the track, the number of the race and date, and a series of vertical lines, all of which are photographed on the film simultaneously with the horses. The written items which appear on every film give complete evidence of exactly what race is recorded with no possibility of error.
The vertical lines provide the answer to a question often asked: Where is the winning post? These lines are drawn exactly vertical to the actual finish line and, therefore, as the photograph is taken each one of these lines is a finish line. It must be remembered that the camera only photographs what happens at the winning post and provides a record of the order in which the horses pass, no horse being photographed either before or after the actual finish line.
At the end of the race if a photograph is called for by the judge, an enlargement is made of the particular section of the film that is required e.g. first horse, third horse, etc. On these enlargements it will be seen that a white line is drawn alongside the nose of the horse in question. This line is put on in the enlarging process for the convenience of the judge. As already explained every one of the vertical lines appearing on the picture is an actual finish line and therefore, any one of these lines could be extended to separate the noses of horses at any distance across the track. To avoid the judge having to use parallel rulers or other equipment this line is drawn across in the enlarging process, and it will be seen that it is drawn exactly parallel to the 'spinner' lines.
A further modification which has been of great benefit is the fitting of the mirror at the far side of the track just above the 'spinner.' This mirror serves primarily the purpose of giving a view from both sides of the track simultaneously and in many instances will separate horses where one on the inside running may be screened in the direct view. However, it also serves another purpose and that is to prove that the camera does not favour inside horses as it will be seen that a horse wins by the same margin in the mirror image as in the direct picture.
The cameras are fitted in a combined camera room and dark room 10ft by 10ft, preferably in a position directly above the judge and at a height sufficient to give an angle down to the horses that will seperate them when bunched together with the exception of those close to the inside rail, which latter will be seperated in the mirror. Normal heights and distances are 40ft to 60ft in height at distances of 50 to 100ft from the outside rail of the course. Two cameras are always used, one of these being regarded as an emergency in case of a fault in the main camera.
The first Photo-Chart picture taken at Addington was in the 1946 NZ Trotting Club, won by Integrity from Josedale Grattan after a great race home. (Pictured)
Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 14April48
WESTERMAN: J B
The death occurred on Sunday, at the age of 85 years, of New Brighton's 'Grand Old Man' of trotting, Mr J B Westerman.
Mr Westerman was elected a member of the NZ Metropolitan and New Brighton Trotting Clubs in 1902. He was a committeeman and steward of the NZMTC from 1910 to 1936 and was elected a life-member in 1937. He was a committeeman and steward of the NBTC from 1904 to 1946, and served a term as president. He was elected a life-member of the New Brighton Club some years ago.
Mr Westerman bred light-harness horses for more than 50 years, and most of his winners traced to a famous early importation in Jeanie Tracey. Mr Westerman bought Dollar Princess about the year 1910, and she proved a very fast mare and a good winner. Dollar Princess, whose third dam was Jeanie Tracey, established a great winning line, her descendants including Doraldina, Houdini, Lady Bountiful, Donard, Dollar King, Recess, Daphne de Oro, Dusolina, Gold Chief, Special Edition, Great News and numerous others.
Fatality, who was bred by Mr Westerman, produced several winners and successful matrons. The best line from her in existence today is that of Lottie Location, the dam of Local Gold.
Becky Logan, a high-class racemare bred and owned by Mr Westerman, left Graham Direct, an Auckland Cup winner, and other winners in Golden Direct, Becky Direct and Taiki.
Mr Westerman was a sportsman in every sense of the word and was one of the most popular and highly-respected owners and breeders identified with trotting for more than half a century.
Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 25Sep46
The death of R B Berry removes NZ's most successful trainer of pacers and trotters of modern times. His list of classic and leading handicap winners is unrivalled in Dominion light-harness history. He 'made' most of his own champions, juvenile trotter or pacer, sprinter or stayer. The eminence he attained in his profession was in large measure due to his all-round knowledge of the horse from the foal stage, to his great patience, his almost uncanny sense of balance and perfection in the gaiting and educating of young horses, his instinctive love of all animals, his innate 'horsesense.'
The Thomas Murphy of Dominion trotting will be missed. The sands of time may reveal him as the same legendary figure in trotting as the late R J Mason has become in racing.
Berry was originally associated with the gallopers, and, like many other valuable recruits from the sister sport, he was forced out of the saddle by increasing weight. As a youth, he was apprenticed to Free Holmes, and later rode for M Hobbs and T Quinlivan. His most important riding success was on Sinapis in the NZ Cup of 1913. He also won the Thompson Handicap on Lagoda, McLean Stakes on Marsa, Manawatu Sires' Produce Stakes on Charmilla, and was on Stardancer when she dead-heated in the Stewards' Handicap of 1912.
It was on his return from the Great War that Berry turned his attention to trotting, and the first horse he trained and drove was Coldwater; but it was the 'Bingen mares' that played an important part in putting Berry on the road to success, just as truly as Berry proved that the 'Bingen mares,' properly handled, were equal as racehorses to those of any other breed. It must be explained here that, due to their fiery and uncertain temperament, mares by Nelson Bingen had let themselves in for wide prejudice, and many of the breed were not even raced because of this 'set' against them.
The first of the Nelson Bingen mares Berry sent to the top was Escapade, and she not only became the champion trotting mare of her time, but she also beat pacers bordering on Cup class. Sea Pearl and Jean McElwyn were two pacing daughters of Nelson Bingen who took high honours and were big money-winners for Berry's stable. Sea Pearl was the leading stake-winner one season and Jean McElwyn, who stood little over 14 hands, was the 'pocket battleship' of her time and a genuine public favourite. Machine Gun, an Australian pacer, was a big stake-winner for the stable and reached Cup class. So did Dundas Boy, a fine pacer who was placed in a NZ Cup. Bingen Starr, Koro Peter and White Satin were high-class trotters sheltered by the Berry stable upwards of 15 years ago. Koro Peter and White Satin were both juvenile champions.
Two of the greatest stayers and 'characters' Berry trained were the trotter Trampfast and the pacer Rollo. Trampfast was described by Berry as "intelligent, game and reliable." He was well into double figures when Berry took him in hand after this grand trotter had been absent from the racetracks for a period of 18 months, but he developed better form than ever, and won the Dominion Handicap and other races. He also competed successfully against high-class pacers. Rollo was the antithesis of Trampfast in temperament. He was completely devoid of brains. Berry himself declared the big Jingle pacer had a vacuum between his ears. But he became a high-class winner and was a natural stayer. A problem on the mark, he had no idea of how to fill his hopples once he mis-stepped at the start, but he never stopped trying when he did go away at all well.
Berry's first acquaintance with mares of the Rey de Oro breed was not an inspiring experience. It was his turn to become prejudiced. For years he would not have a mare of this speedy family on the place. One day Mr D R Revell plucked up sufficient courage to ask him to take a yearling filly by Rey de Oro from Yenot. Berry agreed to do so, but only under pressure. Thus arrived Parisienne, the greatest mare of her time, winner of the Sapling Stakes, NZ Derby, Great Northern Derby, and numerous other races, including the Grand Championship at the Inter-Dominion series held at Addington in 1938.
Berry achieved his life's ambition as a trainer and driver when he won the NZ Trotting Cup with Lucky Jack and so completed the NZ Cups double Sinapis(1913), Lucky Jack(1937). Lucky Jack still ranks as one of the finest stayers of all time, as he went on to finish second in the Cup of 1938 and won again in 1939. Lucky Jack was also an outstanding performer at Inter-Dominion Championships, and his other important successes included the National Handicap and Timaru Cup.
Great Jewel, who joined Berry's stable late in life, was the leading stake-winner of the Dominion one season when he was trained at Yaldhurst, and if he had been sound he would probably have been a champion. Pacing Power was a great horse for Berry from the time he won the Timaru Nursery Stakes. He went on to win the Sapling Stakes, Derby, Ashburton Cup, NZ Premier Sprint Championship, and finished third in two NZ Cups. Sprigfield Globe, who came from Australia to join the stables some three seasons back, became one of the most brilliant pacers of recent years, his successes including the Mason Handicap and the NZ Premier Sprint Champuionship
One of Berry's greatest triumphs, and his last, was to train Bronze Eagle to win the £5000 NZ Trotting Cup of 1944; a triumph because general opinion was that this grand pacer had passed his prime before going into Berry's stable. Bronze Eagle also won the National Handicap and All Aged Stakes for Berry.
As a trainer of Classic and leading handicap races. Berry had an unrivalled record. His successes included: NZ Trotting Cup(Lucky Jack, twice, & Bronze Eagle); NZ Derby(Parisienne & Pacing Power); NZ Sapling Stakes(Parisienne, Pacing Power & Acropolis); NZ Champion Stakes(Attorney & Horsepower); NZ Futurity Stakes(Horsepower & Pacing Power); Great Northern Stakes(Horsepower & Bohemian); Great Northern Derby(Valdor, Parisienne, Horsepower & Acropolis); Canterbury Handicap(Rollo & Southern Chief); Canterbury Park Juvenile Stakes(Sandiways); Canterbury Three-Year-Old Stakes(Globe Direct); Dunedin Cup(Great Jewel); National Cup(Lucky Jack & Bronze Eagle), Dominion Handicap(Trampfast & Pilot Peter); Timaru Nursery Stakes(Walter Moore & Pacing Power); NZ Sires' Produce Stakes(White Satin); NZ Trotting Stakes, Timaru(Paying Guest); NZ Trotting Stakes, Addington(Fantom); NZ Premier Sprint Championship(Springfield Globe & Pacing Power); All Aged Stakes, Ashburton(Horsepower & Bronze Eagle).
Credit: 'Ribbonwood' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 3Jan46
There is no getting away from the fact that Canterbury has always stood as the birthplace of trotting in the Dominion. Though the sport is now firmly established in most parts of the country its followers turn instinctively to this province for leadership. Like any other newly-established sport, light-harness racing had plenty of difficulties to contend with. One of the strongest of these was the contempt with with it was treated by racing clubs.
That prejudice was gradually overcome and it is a tribute to its improved management and rapidly growing popularity that the two sports now go practically hand in hand. One no longer hears the taunt that trotting is for 'nondesript horses' attached to 'little carts' and 'tradesmen's prads.' Once the sport had overcome its initial mismanagement it commenced to attract the attention of an improved following of trainers and drivers. These included names that have become historical in the progress of the sport.
Hark back to the days when its stalwarts included such as the brothers Willie and Charles Kerr, Jos Farrar, Jim Munro, Chris Harold, Jack Milne, Bert and Manny Edwards, Ted Murfitt, Jim Wright and Charles Stace. Later the increased stakes attracted several American horsemen of whom Geo Starr, M Albaugh, and the redoubtable Bob McMillan did much for the sport especially in training methods.
Of all these the name of Willie Kerr stands out as the greatest all-rounder in the role of owner, trainer and breeder. Willie and brother Charlie frequently won half the races on the card and their appearance behind any horse was sufficient to ensure its favouritism. At that time many amateur horsemen crossed swords with the 'pros' and occasionally they had the better of the fight. In the nineties races confined to stallions were an attractive feature of the Show Ground programmes. On one occasion the field for the sires' race included such well-known stallions as Kentucky, Berlin, Abdallah, General Tracey, Lincoln Yet and Emerson, all of whom helped to improve the quality of light-harness stock. There was also a despised outsider in the Arab stallion Blue Gown, the only competitor handled by an amateur - one Mr Oliffe. Kentucky, though giving away 35secs (just fancy, 420 yards under the present system) was looked on as a certainty. But the good thing came undone. For once Blue Gown took it into his head to do the right thing with the result that his supporters received what up to that time was a record dividend.
Yet another incident of an amateur downing the professionals was witnessed at Lancaster Park in 1890. Of the eight starters in the Maiden Trot all carried support with the exception of Mr J Hill's Kangaroo. Even his owner, who rode him, had not a single investment on his representative, and all the money had to be returned to the backers.
But to return to Willie Kerr. Great as were his deeds on the track, it was as a breeder that he earned undying fame. And the foundation of his stud, situated on the New Brighton road, were the stallion Wildwood and the broodmare Thelma.
In the early eighties one of Canterbury's keenest authorities on light harness blood was Mr J Todd, of Lincoln. In his small stud was a mare called Pride Of Lincoln, who was about three parts thoroughbred. Being on the look-out for something good to carry his colours, Willie Kerr was greatly taken by a daughter of hers named Thelma, and purchased her. She won several races for her new owner, but her turf career was neither lengthy nor brilliant. Early in the century she joined Kerr's studfarm where Wildwood, who had just concluded a brilliant career on the tracks was the leading stallion. Thelma's first foal to the American sire was a very promising colt, but he broke a leg when running with his dam. In 1903 from the same union came Willowwood, a very speedy pacer, who won races and subsequently earned some fame as a sire. Next year came Wildwood Junior, winner of two Trotting Cups and one of the greatest racehorses of all time. Thelma's later contributions included Marie Corelli, Authoress (dam of Author Dillon), Adonis, Lady Sybil, Cameos, Waverley, Aristos, Neil Denis, The Pointer and Azelzion. Truly Thelma can be classed as 'the gem of the Trotting Stud Book.'
Nor was she the only matron to bring fame to Kerr's stud. Most notable of them was Gertie, an American-bred mare imported to Sydney by Messrs Trestrall and Burns in 1900. Two years afterward she joined the Wildwood Stud, which she enriched with 11 colts and fillies. Amongst these were such prominent winners as Storm, Calm, Breeze, Lexwood and Stormlet. All her foals were by Wildwood, or his son Wildwood Jnr. I have Willie Kerr's assurance that Calm was the speediest young horse he ever trained. As a matter of fact, his home trials eclipsed those of Wildwood Jnr and Admiral Wood.
The Kerrs were somewhat fortunate in acquiring Wildwood, the king pin of their establishment. The handsome son of Good Gift was one of four horses imported from America by Mr H Richardson, Taranaki. They were subsequently sent down to Canterbury for sale, and, on the advice of my old friend, Joe Chadwick, the Kerrs purchased Wildwood. Two years afterwards the American faced a racecourse crowd for the first time in a race at the Show Grounds, and though asked to concede from 4 to 10 seconds start, he was backed as a certainty. A little-fancied candidate in the Ashburton-trained Prince Imperial brought about his downfall. It was this race that led up to the famous match between Wildwood and Prince Imperial, over which big sums of money changed hands. Patiently driven by Willie Kerr, Wildwood never gave Prince Imperial a look-in, winning two straight heats.
It was over 60 years ago that Willie Kerr made his debut in the saddle. At that time on many Saturdays and public holidays impromptu meetings were held on the New Brighton Beach. At one of these Dick Sutherland had a mare racing called Maud S and it was on her that the youthful horseman won his first race. The prizes were of the utility order - a bridle, a saddle or even a whip. And showing his versatility, young Kerr also won a hurdle race on the beach on a mare named Patience.
Some years later the New Brighton course was formed. Along the back straight the track had been cut through a sandhill and for about 50 yards the horses could not be seen from the stand. So many non-triers were pulled up in this stretch that it became known as the 'standstill.' The New Brighton course was a lucky one for the Kerr brothers, who on several occasions between them won half the programme. Lower Heathcote was another happy hunting ground for Willie Kerr, as were Lancaster Park, Plumpton Park, and the Show Grounds. Occasionally he raced successfully at Tahuna Park and Forbury Park, but was not a great patron of meetings outside Canterbury
It is many years now since Willie Kerr last donned racing livery, most of his later activities being devoted to light-harness breeding, and in this department his name is just as strong as it had been on the tracks. For some months the octogenarian's health has not been the best, but as he is on the improve he looks forward to being present at Addington to see the next Trotting Cup.
Credit: F C Thomas writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 2Oct46
The mirth that greeted the running of earlier contests for the NZ Trotting Stakes subsided on Saturday when three of the field - Acclamation, Flame and Balmoral - provided an interesting race with Acclamation winning in the excellent time of 3.29 3/5.
One can imagine the shudders that must have run through the stalwart frames of Mr A Matson and Mr C S Thomas when ridicule was heaped upon the four-horse fiasco for the Trotting Stakes in 1944. But they were men of courage, idealists who knew that the trotter is an integral part of the light-harness sport and must be catered for. "Carry on at all costs" was the slogan.
Saturday's contest was the best yet provided by the baby trotters, with progeny of Certissimus, the greatest juvenile trotter yet bred in the Dominion, finishing first and second after good exhibitions. Acclamation and Flame are daughters of this popular and handsome horse, and they are among his only crop of foals, as he survived only one season at the stud before meeting with a fatal accident.
All three place-fillers were bred to trot, Acclamation being out of Raclaim, a good-class trotter by Wrack from Trix Pointer, Fame from Belle Lorimer, winner of races at both gaits, and Belmoral by Worthy Belwin-Bessie Bingen, both sire and dam being trotting winners.
J Wilson trained three of the four place-fillers - Acclamation, Flame and Sandwrack (fourth). He must have expended a great deal of patience on his charges, who are a credit to him, and he is performing a service to the pure-gaited horse that will be recognised by every lover of the trotter throughout the Dominion. We could do with a dozen of him.
There are only nine living 3-year-olds by Certissimus.
D Teahen, who bred, trained and drove this greatest of all juvenile trotters seen on Dominion tracks, gave the Calendar some interesting information regarding his old favourite's only crop of foals.
Apart from Acclamation, Flame and Carissima, who started in th NZ Trotting Stakes, there are six of the progeny of Certissimus in various parts of Canterbury. They are a filly from Wee Wrack, a filly from Morewa, a gelding from London Tan, a colt from a Denver Huon mare, a filly from Random, and a filly from a Logan Fraser mare. All are trotters except the one from the Logan Fraser mare, and all, of course, are 3-year-olds.
Betty Jinks produced twins to Certissimus, both of which died, and the same fate befell a colt from Paying Guest and a colt from a Jingle mare. This Jingle mare, which is out of Lluvia de Oro, is the dam of several winners, namely, Royal de Oro, Guncase, Maximum, Walter Jingle and Rustle. Teahen related how a passing drover, with the best of intentions, climbed through a fence to help the Jingle mare, which was having difficulty in foaling. The mare unfortunately took fright, which caused the death of the foal, a fine colt
"Considering the old Jingle mare could not leave a bad one, I took that colt's death to heart a bit," said Teahen, "but I can never hope to sit behind a greater horse than Certissimus. He was just too good to be true - speed, looks, manners, and anything else you like."
Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 10 & 17Apr46
1946 DOMINION HANDICAP
Back in 1930 Tod Lonzia, a two-year-old, trotted a mile against time in 2:22 2-5. Sixteen years later the pacemaker in the Dominion Handicap, a £2000 race holding pride of place in the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club's Show Day programme, took round about the same time to trot the first mile of this two-mile contest.
A great deal hung upon this race - the general welfare of the trotter, his status on future Metropolitan programmes, his eventual right to equal opportunities with the pacer. It must be confessed that as a spectacle the Dominion Handicap was a complete let-down for those ardent supporters of the trotter who have been pleading his case.
The fact that the principal two-mile events for pacers were run in much the same way is no excuse - this was the trotter's opportunity to step into the breach and put on a real show. But everyone was content to allow Steel King to slow the field to a jog for more than a mile. Many of the field broke because they were only scratching along.
Casabianca had the run of the race and would probably have won in any circumstances, but that does not exonerate any member of the field from a charge of tedious loitering. They will have to do much better than that.
1st: S T Webster's CASABIANCA. Trained by the owner and driven by J B Pringle, started from scratch.
2nd: W H Roche's MAE WYNNE. Driven by W R Butt, started from scratch.
3rd: V A Barker's MEDICAL STUDENT. Driven by A Holmes, started off 12yds.
4th: J R McKenzie's FANTOM. Driven by G B Noble, started off 24yds.
The winner won by four lengths, with five lengths to the third horse.
Also started: Hidden Note, Ordnance, Steel King, Sure Lady, Forewarned, Will Cary, Sea Max, Douglas McElwyn & Royal Worthy.
Credit: 'Irvington' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 13Nov46
1946 NEW ZEALAND DERBY STAKES
M Holmes, Mr D McFarlane and Rustic Maid all had previous successful associations with the New Zealand Derby, the latest contest for which was won in the manner of a champion by Free Fight at Addington on Friday. This marked M Holmes's seventh winning drive in the race, his fourth success as a trainer; it was Mr McFarlane's third success as an owner, and Rustic Maid, dam of Free Fight, also produced the 1942 Derby winner, Scottish Lady.
Holmes's winning drives in the Derby have been behind Wrackler(1928), Arethusa(1930), Ciro(1931), Aldershot (1938), Imperial Jade(1939), Scottish Lady(1942) and Free Fight this year and he has trained Aldershot, Imperial Jade, Scottish Lady and Free Fight. Mr McFarlane raced Imperial Jade in partnership with Mr W Scott, and he holds both Scottish Lady and Free Fight on lease from Mr G Youngson, of Gore.
Mr Youngson secured two bargains as things are turning out when he bought Scottish Lady for 400gns and Rustic Maid, carrying Free Fight, for 200gns, about four years ago. Rustic Maid is the dam of Highland Scott, Gallant Maid, Scottish Lady, Scottish Lord, Slavonic and Free Fight, and another of her progeny, a two-year-old colt by Dillon Hall, has also been leased by Mr McFarlane and is being prepared by M Holmes for classic races.
This famous family of horses was established by a mare named Bonnie Belle, owned by the late W J Morland, some 40 to 50 years ago. Bonnie Belle was by Lincoln Yet from an Arab mare, and this Arab mare was by a pure-bred Arab stallion imported to the Dominion by the late Sir Cracroft Wilson more than 80 years ago. The Arab characteristics are still strongly ingrained in the descendants of Bonnie Belle, most of them being flecked with white hairs through their coats. Do they derive a measure of their gameness from this source as well? The late Mr Morland was sure of it, and as he bred such champions as Country Belle, Escapade and Gold Country from this line, and jealously preserved the breed over half a century, his high opinion of the family has never been in dispute. The female side of the tribe has been one of the most conspicuous in the Stud Book over a long period, but Free Fight is the only colt of the line left intact for many years. He is no doubt intended for a stud career in Southland when his racing days are over.
Free Fight is the first winner to the credit of a grand imported pacer in Light Brigade, and it is a splendid advertisement for Mr McKenzie's stallion that he should sire a Derby winner among his first crop. It is doubtful if there is a better bred horse in the Dominion today than Light Brigade, who is by Volomite, 2:03¼, today the leading sire of the United States with 13 two-minute performers, and the first stallion to be credited with 100 or more 2:10 trotters and 100 or more 2:10 pacers. Another great distinction came to Volomite recently when Poplar Bird, a two-year-old, took a record of 2:04¾ and became Volomite's 100th representative to enter the 2:05 list. Volomite thus becomes the first sire to attain this honour.
Besides being by the world's outstanding sire of modern times, Light Brigade is flawlessly bred on the dam's side. He is out of Spinster, who took a record of 2:03, and is by Spencer, 1:59¾, a champion in his day and also leading sire for one season a few years ago. Spinster is out of Minnetonka, 2:12¼, by Belwin, 2:06¾ from The Miss Stokes, 2:08¾, by Peter The Great-Tillie Thompson, by Guy Wilkes, etc. Minnetonka, second dam of Light Brigade, also produced Emily Stokes, 2:01½, Tilly Tonka 2:02¾, Kedgewick 2:03¼, and Balbo, 2:04½. The Miss Stokes, third dam of Light Brigade, was a Futurity winner and produced a famous race mare in Tilly Brooke, 1:59.
Although the mile and a half start again proved unsatisfactory, the race over the last mile developed into one of the finest in the history of the blue riband event. County Antrim, as in the Riccarton Stakes, took up the role of pacemaker, and Free Fight, drawn on the second row, made the best beginning of his career to be in fifth place going round the first bend. With half the journey covered, County Antrim led Sahara Queen, Snowflake, Free Fight, Culture, Fillmore, Darkie Grattan, Lady Diane, Pirouette, Gay Piper and Palette. It was not until three furlongs from home that Free Fight made a definite move, and he had raced up to County Antrim at the distance. He finished in the gamest possible style and won all out by a length from Snowflake, who finished too well for County Antrim after getting out of a pocket late. Culture went a surprisingly good race for a close fourth, Gay Piper was fifth, then Lady Diane, with the rest well back.
The time, 3:17 4-5, was the second fastest for the race, the record being held by War Buoy, who registered 3:16 1-5 when he outclassed a good field in 1933. The sectional times on Friday tell their own story of a sound pace for youngsters: Half-mile 1:08 4-5, six furlongs 1:41 4-5, mile 2:14 4-5, mile and a quarter 2:46 2-5 and the full journey 3:17 4-5.
Sahara Queen failed to stay, but On Approval, who would probably have been hard to beat, was among several eliminated as a result of a mix up caused through Darkie Grattan tangling going into the back the first time. Darkie Grattan was lame on returning to the birdcage. Coral Princess, who was strongly fancied by her connections, failed to begin correctly, and, with Henry of Navarre and His Excellency, was in an impossible position at the end of a furlong.
The big field completely ruined the chances of many, but it is some consolation to reflect that probably the best horse won.
Credit: 'Ribbonwood' writing in the NZ Trotting Calendar 20Nov46
The contest for the NZ Trotting Cup, 1946, resembled a funeral march in B flat. It should have been a marathon. It wasn't. The bun rush that developed over the last half-mile, and the memorable photo-finish between Integrity and Josedale Grattan, came as poor compensation on top of the sit-down strike that was imminent for the first mile and a half. It just wasn't good enough for a stake of £7500. The basic constituent of harness racing is speed and stamina, but you will look in vain for either of these commodities in the sectional times for Saturday's race.
Without a doubt it was the worst stayers' Cup for years, because the void that occurred between Vesuvius
and Gold Bar yawns again. The king is indisposed - long live Gold Bar or his prototype. The Metropolitan Club was deserving of a better deal from the principal actors in what should be the Dominion's leading light-harness drama.
Integrity's victory was a gratuity for services rendered in past Trotting Cups - he was runner-up in 1944 and 1945. Possibly he would still of won no matter how the race had been run, but does a horse who has performed like a moderate between one Cup meeting and another really earn a cheque for £5000 at the conclusion of a dirge like Saturday's race turned out to be?
The power went off as soon as Double Peter took charge. The Gold Bar kilowatts were imprisoned in there generator up at Yaldhurst. So lethargic did Double Peter become with a mile covered that he nearly deposited himself in the lap of his trainer, R Young. Turtles would have looked like cheetahs alongside him. In Indian file, two abreast, they sauntered the third half-mile in 66secs after taking 2:14 for the first mile, speed that would not embarass any Timaru Nursery Stakes candidate worthy of consideration.
It is beyond comprehension why trainers prepare their horses to stay two miles in 4:16 or better and are then content to allow one horse to dictate the conditions of a race worth a fortune by looking on while a veteran slows up the field to an amble and reduces three-quarters of the race to a speed that a country cup winner could do in a hearse nowdays. The truth of the 1946 NZ Trotting Cup is that everything played right into the hands of a master craftsman in D C Watts. If he had had the race made to order he could not have wished for anything better. No one wanted to make the pace and no one did - ever.
The past of any NZ Trotting Cup winner should be great. A glance at the Index to Performers reveals that Integrity was unplaced in all of his eight starts prior to his Cup success, and it is difficult to reconcile his abject failure in the Hannon Memorial Handicap at Oamaru five days beforehand with his lightning half-mile thrust to wrest Cup honours from Josedale Grattan. But it must have been a case of strength through weakness because he was a raging favourite from the moment the machine opened. And once he left the mark Integrity had the dawdling two-miler type at his mercy. He is virtually a two-minute horse, though it is only about once a year he produces it.
Josedale Grattan, 300 times a father, and returning to racing afer 15 month's absence, put the younger generation of the field to complete shame. The pity of it was that he went to the post without the winding-up race that might have clinched victory for him. F J Smith's judgement in putting the 11-year-old stallion back into work because he summed up the Trotting Cup possibilities - with the sole exception of Emulous - as by no means of champion calibre, or past their best, was bourne out by the performances of the majority of Saturday's field. When Emulous went sore and did not have the opportunity of qualifying, Smith made no secret of the fact that he expected Josedale Grattan to win. How close he went to doing so, after faltering slightly about 100 yards from the finish, emphasises one of two things - either that Josedale Grattan is a super horse, or that our other Cup horses are mostly has beens. Lets grow old together!
The newest horses in the Cup field, Volo Senwod and Knave of Diamonds, were eliminated in the run home. Knave of Diamonds was literally climbing over everything with less than a quarter to go and eventually succeeded in doing so; he lost his driver near the furlong post. Even old Burt Scott, with many facets to angular shadow, was full of running with nowhere to go in the final furlong, and Countless also appeared to be looking in vain for an opening in the concluding stages.
Integrity is a breeding freak. He is a beautiful chestnut of porcelain quality and refinement, yet his pedigree is the most lowly of any Cup horses racing today. His sire, Trevor de Oro, was a ponified pacer of moderate performances, and his dam, Cheetah, was an unraced mare by Grattan Loyal, a line that, apart from Integrity, has produced nothing in the nature of a champion.
Now eight, Integrity was bred by A and R Gardiner, of Lower Hutt, and was purchased by his owner-trainer, V Leeming, as a yearling. Integrity has won £14,507 in stakes and trophies to date, and becomes the biggest light-harness stake-winner in New Zealand and Australia. The previous record stood to the credit of Great Bingen, who won £14,120, of which £13,320 was earned in the Dominion and the remainder in Perth.
Credit: 'Ribbonwood' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 6Nov46
1946 NZ PREMIER SPRINT CHAMPIONSHIP
1st=: B Grice's HAUGHTY. Trained by the owner at Tinwald and driven by G McKendry.
1st=: A V Prendeville & J X Ferguson's TURCO. Trained by G S Smith at Addington and driven by the trainer.
3rd: F J Smith's JOSEDALE GRATTAN. Driven by the owner.
4th: P A Watson's COUNTLESS. Driven by A G Collison.
There was a dead-heat for first, with a neck back to the third horse.
Also started: Battle Colours, Bronze Eagle, Bulldozer, Clockwork, Double Peter, Gold Bar, Happy Man, Indian Clipper, Volo Senwod & Trusty Scott.
Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 13Nov46