Tiger Woods wins the US Masters, the youngest player and first coloured man to do so.
October 13 the British jet car Thrust SSC driven by fighter pilot Andy Green broke the sound barrier on land for the first time. In two runs across Nevada's Black Rock desert it exceeded 1220 Km/h (760 mph).
After a leadership challenge, Jenny Shipley replaces Jim Bolger as leader of the National Party and becomes New Zealand's first woman Prime Minister.
The King Edward Barracks are demolished.
The Ch-Ch Convention Centre, New Brighton Pier and the Heart Unit at Christchuch Hospital open.
Ngai Tahu settles with the Crown.
Jack Hinton, VC and Ngai Tahu kaumatua Ropata Stirling die.
Credit: Ch-Ch City Libraries
South Canterbury harness racing lost one of its most recognisable characters with the death of Sam Henderson early this month. Mr Henderson, 77, synonymous with harness racing in South Canterbury, trained standardbreds for 40 years at Orari where he was born and educated.
Although he tried many jobs, including bush work, solo butchering, baker, grocer, barman and shearing, training standardbreds was what he wanted to do.
Because of his stature Mr Henderson was tempted to become a jockey. As he went to school with the Skelton brothers who were with Lionel Pratt and with 150 horses trained at Orari it was not surprising that he rode work.
It was Bob Townley who gave Sam advice and encouragement regarding the standardbreds. By 1955 Mr Henderson had a trials drivers licence and at his first outing drove three winners and two second placegetters. His first training and driving win was behind Gold De Oro at Greymouth on March 10, 1956. His last winning drive was 30 years later when Imperial Jack won at Marlborough on June 21 when he was forced to surrender his horse drivers licence.
Mr Henderson was known to put the horses on the float and leave for the races at any time of the day or night, he appeared to be able to go without sleep for long periods. At one shearing shed he and Laurie Patrick worked through until well after midnight to get the job done so they could go to the races. The effort was made worth-while when the horse won at long odds. On another trip round the South Island he was said to have knocked over a power pole in Christchurch and a veranda in Kaikoura.
Mr Henderson was always grateful to the owners who supported him but Muir Thomson was special. Mr Thomson was said to have tied a horse up at the stables, put £750 in an envelope with a note telling him to train it until the money ran out. While Mr Henderson trained many useful horses over the years including Minstra, Pee, Star Land, Young Trouble, Seafield Dream and Brian Hanover, he was robbed of a potential top liner when Every Chance broke down.
Winning or losing Mr Henderson's demeanour didn't change, the trademark roll-your-own invariably in the corner of his mouth.
Credit: NZ HRWeekly 24Sep97
Carl Brinsden, who died in Tauranga Hospital early on Tuesday morning of complications from an internal disorder, will be remembered as the devoted groom of the outstanding Kiwi pacer of the 1970s, Young Quinn.
Brinsden, who was 57, worked for successful Canterbury trainers Cecil Donald, George Noble and Felix Newfield before moving north, where in turn he became a key man in the operations of Nevil White, Kevin Holmes and Charlie Hunter.
Commissioned by Hunter to accompany Young Quinn to America in May 1975, Brinsden remained as the gelding's caretaker for the bulk of his North American campaigning over the next five years. In that time, Young Quinn, who had won 38 races and just on $175,000 in Australasia, chalked up a further 22 wins in town-hall class and pushed his career earnings to $759,227.
After Young Quinn returned to New Zealand, Brinsden set up training in his own right in California, handling mainly horses sent to him by Wellingtonian Sir Roy McKenzie. Forced out of the game by illness, he recovered to team up with compatriot Paul Jessop in New Jersey some four years back. He returned to NZ a year ago, and more recently had been assisting in the blossoming stable of Te Puke trainer John Peary.
Credit: NZ HRWeekly 5Nov97
The death occured recently of Royce Court, a prominent Canterbury owner-breeder and trainer.
Aged 70, Court produced many good horses including Golden Lustre, Bonnie Lustre, Dream Lustre and Glen Lustre, an upset winner of the first Superstar 4-year-old Championship when driven by Bobby Nyhan.
Bonnie Lustre, by First Lord, was tough and a good winner at three and four, mainly driven by Felix Newfield. Lustre Scott, by U Scott, had a great two mile record and won a race at the NZ Cup meeting in the hands of Bob Young.
Court was a steward of the Banks Peninsula Trotting Club, and his three sons Graham, Ivan and Brian are all involved in harness racing.
Credit: NZ HRWeekly 5Nov97
OUR SIR VANCEALOT
The title of Inter Dominion Champion for 1997 went to Our Sir Vancelot but the star of the show was his trainer Brian Hancock. Having previously trained two winners, namely Thorate and Weona Warrior, Brain was looking to become the first trainer in Inter Dominion history to achieve the treble. In what could only be described as daring tactics Brian rushed Our Sir Vancelot to the lead and then shot clear before the home turn. Although he tired near the finish and had to await the result of a very close photo finish with Rainbow Knight, he claimed the victory, and clearly established the Inter Dominion series as one that belonged to master trainer Brain Hancock.
An Auckland-based horse that nearly died on his last visit to Addington returned there to snare one of the biggest prizes of the 3-year-old. Bogan Fella, trained at Ardmore by Mark Purdon, caught a severe bout of travel sickness during Cup Week in November when he trekked south to tackle the $148,500 Sires' Stakes Final.
At the same time as his illustrious stablemate Il Vicolo gallantly captured his second consecutive NZ Cup, Bogan Fella was battling a respiratory infection and high temperatures and beat only five home in his event the same day. "It was quite serious and he could have died," recalled Purdon. "He had an awful run in the Sires' Stakes Final but went better on Show Day to finish third."
The $125,000 Smokefree New Zealand Derby was a different story though, and Bogan Fella put an end to the eight-race winning streak af race favourite, Lavros Star. Back early from marble eight at the mobile gate, Bogan Fella improved with cover to sit parked momentarily before securing a one-one sit over the final lap. As expected, Lavros Star was in front and setting a cracking pace. The early speed duel with Franco Hat Trick, which saw the first 800m race by in 56.7 seconds, took its toll down the home straight though. Bogan Fella got to the front and held it, just, from Franco Enforce who came from a "mile" back at the 500m. Franco Hat Trick came out of the trail to run third, ahead of the gallant Lavros Star and Atitagain.
Such was the dominance of Lavros Star, a $1.20 shot who had won the first two legs of the triple crown so convincingly, even Purdon himself had doubts about his winning chances. "I thought we were racing for second really," he admitted after the event. "I was pleased with Bogan Fella's efforts on the first two nights though; he had felt better on the second night and was stronger again tonight. "He is a great little stayer though and he really tries," he said.
Bogan Fella's time for the 2600m mobile event was a sensational 3:11.6, a mile rate of 1:58.5. The performance was a New Zealand record for a 3-year-old colt or gelding, and ironically bettered the previous mark held jointly by stablemate The Court Owl and Winning Blue Chip. Bogan Fella will round his season off with a couple of starts at the Rowe Cup meeting later this month.
Purdon, who has already had to break in a new helmet this season, will have to buy himself another pair of driving glasses after losing his on Saturday night. Fully equipped when he left the changing room prior to Bogan Fella's event, Purdon was minus his glasses by the time he got to the stables to collect his Derby hope. Bob Cameron, a "rival" trainer on the track but Purdon's great friend off it, duly obliged by supplying the winning horseman with a pair owned by Ricky May.
Credit: John Robinson writing in NZHR Weekly
Top horses normally collect a long list of superlatives as the go through their career. In the case of Merinai, she is simply brilliant. The 6-year-old Helensville-based mare completed her Addington assault with a sensational win in the $100,000 DB Draught Dominion Trotting Handicap.
Breaking and losing 20 metres at the start, regular pilot James Stormont had her up outside leader Bay Talent with a lap to travel. Despite not having the ideal trip, Merinai was still too good and defeated one of the best selections of trotting talent ever put together in the same race. "It's a fairytale come true, and it has only really hit me now," owner/trainer Ross Baker said after returning home earlier this week. "I was so pleased that it wasn't presented to her on a plate. If horses get a soft run then you're never sure how they would have gone if they had a tough one. She is new to the top grade too. She's had a peep at the big time but the Dominion field was right up with the best of them," he said.
Merinai's record now is 15 wins from 16 starts, but that could have all been different if Baker hadn't taken a close friend's advice some years ago. Baker had lost a Save Fuel filly out of of Merinai's dam Meriden. The time came to have her served again, so when Baker bumped into Frank Cooney at a Kumeu cattle sale, he asked him what were nice yearlings. "Frank had a couple by Tuff Choice; he said they had broken in very nicely with good manners and good gait. The stud had actually rung me a couple of days earlier, so Frank's advice sealed my decision. Tuff Choice had the record, and a bit of breeding, but he was a big rough horse when I saw him and I almost changed my mind to McKinzie Almahurst," Baker recalled.
Meriden foaled a lovely little filly some months later, and Baker called her Merinai. "She was a proper loaner. You just could not get near her and she wouldn't even come up for a scratch. Even as a foal if you ever did anything around the other horses, she'd walk away and go and do her own thing," he said. Merinai "broke in beautifully" as an early 2-year-old. "She was a faultless pacer, and I remember thinking I've got a nice horse her."
Baker's opinion changed when Merinai was brought back for her second preparation though. She just was not happy in her hopples and she tried to trot in them. On days when she knew I was going to work her I couldn't catch her in the paddock. One day I took the hopples off and she trotted like poetry in motion - the next day she was at the gate waiting for me." he said.
The time soon came for Baker to take his "baby" for her first run at the workouts. She was a 3-year-old, and it was at Alexandra Park, but Baker didn't have a driver. "I wanted someone with soft hands. Merinai wasn't soft in the mouth, she just needed to be driven by someone with light hands because she liked to do her own thing. I only knew James Stormont to say hello, but when I saw him that day I asked if he had a full book of drives. "I wouldn't have blamed him if he declined driving an unqualified trotter in an unqualified trot, but I saw him later and he agreed to take her out for me." Stormont returned after the event, and told Baker that if he wanted a driver to "take" Merinai through the classes he wanted to be that person. The rest is now history.
Home safe and sound again now, Merinai will be jogged down and swum over the Christmas period before Baker makes a decision about her next campaign. The Rowe Cup in May is an obvious target, and several Australian Clubs have also approached the Parakai horseman about getting his mare across the Tasmen.
Baker and Merinai's trip to Addington may have only been brief, but they have already developed fond memories of Christchurch's headquarters. "Southerners love trotting. Another thrilling part of her Dominion win was the warmth of the crowd and the way they adopted her," he said.
Credit: John Robinson writing in HRNZ Weekly
Kate's First produced a brilliant effort to win the Nevele R NZ Oaks, but it wasn't the only act she put on on the night.
Bucking and kicking when unloaded off the float on arrival at the course, Kate's First continued the bad behaviour prior to her event. "She was a right mole in her preliminary," driver Peter Ferguson said. "She gets a bit smart and tries to run off the track - I was flat getting her around the course while she was warming up."
Although the Holmes Hanover filly proved a handful prior to her $60,000 NZ Oaks bid, Ferguson knew it was a positive sign. "I knew she was back to her old self when she started behaving like that. She played up a little prior to the previous week's win, but that side to her had been missing since she's been crook," he said.
Ferguson's thoughts that Kate's First was back to normal were certainly justified minutes later. Drawn the outside of the second row, Ferguson and Kate's First waited until the right moment to shoot around the field, and levelled up to pacemaking favourite Scuse Me with a lap to travel. In the same spot turning for home, it was obvious soon after that Kate's First had the measure of the leader. She strode clear and then easily held off the late challenges of Bludebird, Strathrowan and Mystic Gold.
The win was a huge effort from a 3-year-old filly, and even more amazing were the last sectionals of 57 and 28.5 respectively, which paved the way for a national record time of 3:13.1 for the 2600m mobile. "I was quite happy sitting parked out, and I wouldn't have handed up to anything over the last lap," Ferguson said. "She's got a bit of speed, and seems to have got quicker as she's had more races," he said.
Austin Williams, who with daughter Karen has looked after Kate's First while she has been in Christchurch, believed the filly falling ill could have been a blessing in disguise. "Travelling up and down the country for major races can take a lot out of horses," he said. Ferguson agreed, saying the opportunity Kate's First had to settle in and acclimatise was a major factor. "Ausin and Karen have done a wonderful job with the horse. She felt terific tonight and I know it is a scary thought but I think she might improve for the Hydroflow Final," he said.
Credit: John Robinson writing in NZHR Weekly
It was supposed to be a cakewalk. In the end, it was little more than a fine line between the hotshot and the roughie.
The infamous Relief of Mafeking during the Boer wars was nothing compared to the relief that followed when Iraklis was declared the winner of the DB Draught NZ Cup at Addington. Small fortunes were bet on Iraklis winning the race, including a $10,000 wager by part-owner Kypros Kotzikas on fixed odds at three to one, and a bit less bet on the day.
The money looked as safe as the Sunday collection when Iraklis put a break on the field turning in. Iraklis was about to preach to the converted. But lurking behind pacemaker Anne Franco and inside Iraklis was a tough old beach-trained gelding whose body had taken more socks than Evander Holyfield. Two hundred metres from the finish, the script was being followed beautifully. Iraklis was running the race of his life, still clear, when the old pug lurched off the ropes. This became a serious challenge. More than that, Smooth Dominion actually gave meaning to the prospect of a technical knockout when he put his head past Iraklis about 20 metres from the finish.
Driver Robert Anderson, presumed to be one of the race 'extras,' was in danger of upstaging the star. This was not part of the play. The six inches that Smooth Dominion took, tottered briefly and fell the other way as Iraklis rallied short of the finish to save the day.
"I thought he'd lost it on the post," said Kotzikas, an expansive fishing mogul who owns more than 80 horses with trainer Robert Cameron. "I didn't know he'd won it until Reon Murtha called out number seven, but then, from where I was sitting, I knew the angle was in our favour," he said.
Iraklis won the race the hard way. He was under incredibile pressure, having won his last nine New Zealand starts. The first of them, a win on the grass at Motukarara, was the launching pad in 1996 for the Cup in 1997. He went through the next year gaining experience, getting the ringcraft, as Cameron and May charted the course to the Cup. On the day, he was as fit and ready as any horse in the race, and those who challenged this and that were never convincing.
There was a hic-cup at the start when he paced away, and then scrambled. Further down on the track, his stablemate Anvil's Star did the same. Up front, where Iraklis was nowhere near, Brabham, then Smooth Dominion, and finally Anne Franco were leaders. Sharp And Telford, not the horse he was at Kaikoura, worked round early to sit parked, and that was the early activity. Driver Ricky May made his move with Iraklis at the 1400 metres. With a lap to go, Iraklis was second. May had declared his intentions. Those who reckoned that Iraklis had to be saved for one giant uppercut now had to watch and see if he could do the 15 rounds. "I never doubted his ability to stay," said May. "He was jogging on the corner. The only reason he lost the lead was because he shied at the crowd. He'd never seen people that close on the inside before," he said. So the favorite prevailed and so many went away happy. He took 4:00.9, a fast run on a windy day.
Smooth Dominion almost made a goose of the pundits after a perfect drive by Anderson. Aussie rep Sovereign Hill made solid headway from five places deep on the inside to run third, and was stiff, being held up twice over the last 500 metres. The 'Mike Tyson' who did not deliver was Sharp And Telford, who ran 12th and last of those who finished, with apparent leg problems.
Cameron, 59, who watched the race on television in the driver's room because there was no room in the stand, played down the achievement with his usual laconic modesty, saying winning any race is a thrill. "I didn't think the other horse would run him that close, but a horse can come out of the trail and do that. It's great for Kyp. We have been partners for 10 years and even when I've made mistakes there has never been a cross word between us. For me, you could say this is another era over," he said.
Kotzikas got into the racing game in 1976 with a galloper, named Cypriot's Pride. He admits to spending millions on buying and racing well-bred horses, Iraklis one of the dearest at $85,000. He is superstitious, and his two best horses - Iraklis and the outstanding Australian galloper Lavross - both have seven letters, which must have something to do with good fortune. Perhaps he thought of this before choosing his partner in harness racing. Or is it coincidental that "Cameron" just happens to have seven letters!
Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HR Weekly