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CARETAKERS

 

YEAR: 2011

ADDINGTON GROUNDS CREW

Ask Joh Denton how long he has been track manager at Addington Raceway and he will tell you he began the year Bee Bee Cee won the New Zealand Cup. That was 1994. In between there have been many special Addington memories for Denton including Kym's Girl, who was trained by Colin and Julie De Filippi, John's sister, and driven by Colin, winning the New Zealand Cup in 2001.

Christian Cullen's 1998 NZ Cup win was also special because his driver, Danny Campbell, had his first job in a stable working for Denton, a former licenced trainer and driver who is the son of highly respected elder statesman of harness racing in Canterbury, Bill Denton. There have also been exciting times watching other stars such as Courage Under Fire, Lyell Creek, Elsu and Monkey King fly around Addington.

Managing the grounds of such a large and complex facility is a big job. However, Denton is also Track and Venue Inspector for every harness racing track in New Zealand which means a lot of travelling for him. He loves his job and says he is lucky to have such dedicated staff working with him at Addington including Rudd Wilson, Allan Maslin and Chris Pearce. Denton's son, Jeff, also helps out at the races assisting with track work. "We work as a team to make sure everything looks spic and span," Denton said. "This is our life."

Addington CEO Shane Gloury said Denton and his ground staff team were great to work with and he was "very pleased with the results they have achieved. They are hard working and take tremendous pride in their work and the grounds here at Addington." he said. Denton said the men in his team were also experienced horsemen which was a big advantage at the races, especially if there was an accident because it meant they were able to help the crash crew when necessary.

The sense of pride they all have in their work is on show at every Addington race meeting but never more so than during the New Zealand Cup carnival. Every year at this time Denton and his team work especially hard to make sure Addington is looking her absolute best for New Zealand's premier harness racing event.

However, this year even more effort has been required after 12 months of turmoil, caused by three devastating earthquakes and thousands of smaller quakes, and aftershocks, ripped the heart out of Christchurch, flattening much of the CBD, causing horrific damage as well elsewhere in Canterbury and leaving 182 people dead after the February 22 quake.

Addington Raceway escaped with only minor damage after the first earthquake on September 4 last year, and even became a refuge centre for some time for many people with badly damaged homes. However, far worse damage was to come during the later quakes resulting in the much awaited Addington Inter-Dominions having to be transferred to Auckland in March, a severe blow to the South Island harness racing community and the Christchurch economy.

Gloury said that after the February 22 earthquake, seven race meetings, including three Inter-Dominion fixtures, were either abandoned or transferred to other venues. This was because of damage to buildings, and the track, including hairline cracks, liquefaction, and gouging after the main water pipeline cracked three times. The in August another two meetings had to be abandoned due to heavy snow. The public grandstand has also had to be demolished, after being damaged beyond repair, and has been replaced with marquees and portable seating for Cup Day. The February 22 quake was "pretty frightening for everyone," Denton said, "but fortunately nobody was hurt at the raceway". He was on the tractor watering the track that day when the quake struck. "I looked over at the main stand and could see the windows moving."

Although Denton had a long list of things still to do before Cup Day when I visited last week, there was no signs of pressure and he was looking forward to the big day. "I believe it will be a great Cup and people will really enjoy the week out. The Cup field itself is looking exciting, particularly with Smoken Up now coming and Auckland Reactor back." The big, roomy Addington track was "one of the fairest" in New Zealand, Denton said. "You can be anywhere in the field and still have a winning chance."

Gloury said he was hoping for around 24,000 racegoers on Cup Day. "While we expect that number, visitors from the North Island and Australia may be down due to concerns over the earthquakes in Christchurch, with so many events lost from Canterbury we expect Cantabrians to get right behind Cup Day which will be the biggest event in Christchurch in 2011," he said.

While earthquakes, aftershocks and heavy snow have provided trying times for everyone in Canterbury during the last twelve months, the popularity of the Addington Raceway Events Centre is proving a silver lining in the dark eathquake clouds that have hammered the region. Now the New Zealand Cup Carnival, something everyone looks forward to in harness racing, is almost here again. A big thanks to all the hardworking team at Addington Raceway for making it happen.

Credit: Shelley Caldwell writing in HRWeekly 3 Nov 2011

 

YEAR: 2010

ALAN MASLIN

On Saturday night at the NZ Harness Racing Awards, Allan Maslin was named the 2010 ICE Bloodstock Unsung Hero.

Allan has worked at Addington Raceway for the past 18 years as the Addington Course Caretaker. Born and raised in Gore, Allan has had a lifetime interest in racing. He worked for trainer Ted Winsloe at Gore in his younger days although becoming a jockey wasn’t for Allan with weight quickly catching up with him in his developing years.

A cabinetmaker by trade, Allan moved to Christchurch as a young man and worked in this trade for many years. In 1992, an opportunity arose for Allan to become the Course Caretaker at Addington, an opportunity that he jumped at given his interest in racing. In the ensuing 18 years he has provided fantastic service to Addington Raceway.

Nothing ever fazes him no matter what the task or the situation that confronts him. He never complains no matter how difficult or dirty the task or the odd hours that at times are associated with his job. He is up early most mornings to open the gates to the Raceway at 5.30am. He churns through the various jobs: maintenance, plumbing, carpentry and other repair work that is required at Addington and is back on site to close the gates at the end of each night, which sometimes can be after midnight when a racemeeting or function takes place.

Allan was largely responsible for getting the stables completed and operational in 2009 after problems were encountered with the building contractor towards the end of the Stables Project. He was also instrumental in performing the interior work for the Garrards shop that operates on site at Addington and also built the new winning owners bar that opened recently. Allan plays a very important role in the lead up to Cup Day each year getting much of the temporary infrastructure in place to ensure that Cup Day runs successfully.

Allan attends all race meetings at Addington and is always on hand to fix any problems that may arise during the meeting. Whatever he does, he does with a smile and nothing is too big or too small or a burden to him.

Credit: HRNZ Website

 

YEAR: 1954

R (Reuben) G COOPER

Mr R G Cooper, superintendent of Addington Trotting Course, Ltd., can look back on the New Zealand Trotting Cup carnival, 1954, with feelings of pride and satisfaction.

Never before, at the same meeting, has the Addington course produced so many world records. On the first day Johnny Globe put up the world's pacing record of 4:07 3-5 for two miles; on the second day he established the world's record of 2:33 3-5 for a mile and a quarter from a standing start; on the third day Rupee made the world's record figures of 3:07 1-5 for a mile and a half from a standing start; and on the fourth day Ribands set new world figures of 3:21 3-5 for a mile and five furlongs.

Mr Cooper has ever been meticulous in the study and preparation of Addington's famous six-furlong dirt track. He holds the diploma of the New Zealand Institute of Horticulture. He was Superintendent of Reserves at Greymouth for 20 years, and was on the staff of the Botanic Gardens in Christchurch for some time before he was appointed assistant to the late Mr J Highsted, caretaker of the Addington course, in 1944. On the death of Mr Highsted about a year later Mr Cooper succeeded him.

Years ago Mr Cooper held a trainer's and driver's licence and won races with Rose Guy, Ocean Whispers and Sedgemere.

Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 1Dec54

 

YEAR: 1945

JOHN HIGHSTED

Mr John Highsted who had been caretaker of the Addington trotting track since 1928, died suddenly in Christchurch last week. Before taking over control of the big property at Addington he was employed with the Reserves Department of the Christchurch City Council and later the Domains Board.

The race track at Addington is possibly the fastest in NZ, and the only one in the Southern Hemisphere on which a horse has done a mile in better than two minutes. On tracks prepared by Mr Highsted, Lawn Derby (1:59 2/5), Gold Bar and Haughty (1:59 3/5) have ever reached the coverted figures, and the records for practically all distances have been made at Addington.

Under the direction of Mr Highsted the track, which had proved very bad in wet weather, and uneven at any time, was rebuilt and in recent years had been the best wet-weather dirt track in NZ.

Mr Highsted was a keen horticulturist, and the flower beds and general lay-out of the enclosures at Addington remain as an example to his outstanding ability.

Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 3Jan45

 

YEAR: 1906

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.”


Credit: NZMTC:Historical Notes compiled by D C Parker

 

Appendix No. Five: CARETAKERS/ COURSE SUPERINTENDENTS

1899-1921 J French

1921-23 H Shirley

1923-27 H Shirley (Riccarton Property)

1923-28 J Coates

1928-44 J Highstead

1945-60 R G Cooper

1960-64 S A Harris

1964-95 C J Anderson

1995- George Calvert
Cleaning Ltd

-2011 J W Denton

 

Mr J French, who was caretaker and custodian to the Lancaster Park Amateur Trotting Club for many years, was appointed caretaker to the NZMTC when it was established ans was one of those people instrumental in the initial development of Addington racecourse. Mr French retained his position until his retirement in March 1921.

During an interval in the racing at Addington a number of officials of the Club met in the President’s Room to make a presentation to the caretaker Mr French who was resigning his position after 24 years service to the Club. The President, the Hon. Charles Louisson, said it was with great regret that they were parting with suc an old and well esteemed employee as Mr French. He had never found any cause for complaints and the Committee knew that they could leave all the work connected with the Club’s grounds to Mr French with full confidence that they would be properly carried out. Mr Louisson handed Mr French a cheque for 50 guineas accompanied by a letter from the Club expressing their regret at his retirement, extending their appreciation of his services and expressing the Club’s best wishes for his future welfare. Mr French in returning thanks, said the state of his health had made it necessary for him to retire from the position he had held since the Club was formed.

The second caretaker was Mr H Shirley who was appointed following Mr French’s retirement and was employed at Addington until May 1923. Mr Shirley was caretaker of the Canterbury Parks Trotting Club’s grounds at Sockburn and was responsible for many improvements carried out at Sockburn during his term. Following the CPTC taking over the lease of Addington from the Metropolitan Trotting Club, Mr Shirley was appointed caretaker of the NZMTC’s Riccarton property which was to be developed as a trotting course complex by the Club on landfronting Riccarton, Blenheim and Wharenui Roads. Mr Shirley retained his position as caretaker of the Riccarton property until October 1927, about the time it was decided not to proceed with the project.

As a vacancy for caretaker had occurred at Addington following Mr Shirley’s move to the Riccarton property the CPTC advertised the position and out of 200 applications Mr J Coates was appointed caretaker, a position he retained until November 1928.

The joint grounds committee of the Canterbury Park and NZMTC requested that the vacancy caused by the resignation of Mr Coates be filled and theCPTC appointed Mr J Highstead caretaker as from 10th December 1928 and he remained in that position until his death “on the job” in December 1944.

The fifth caretaker, Mr R G Cooper, who held a diploma in Horticulture was appointed gardener in July 1944 and following the death of Mr Highstead was appointed caretaker as from 1st January 1945 on three months trial. During Mr Cooper’s term considerable progress was made in raising the floral standards at Addington. Glasshouses were built and bedding plants raised for planting in the flowerbeds and a large range of pot plants was held in stock for the interior decorating of the Stewards Stand and certain public areas. This scheme was discontinued on the grounds of cost in 1965. Mr Cooper’s status was changed inMay 1947 to that of Course Superintendent and in October 1959 he tendered his resignation to take effect as from 31st March 1960. A suitable presentation was made to Mr Cooper to markhis retirement and as an appreciation of his long service.

Mr Cooper’s son-in-law, who was a member of the grounds staff ans Assistant Course Superintendent, became Course Superintendent from 1st April 1960 filling the vacancy caused through the resignation of Mr Cooper. He was Mr S A Harris and his employment terminated as from 23rd January 1964.

The seventh Course Superintendent, Mr C J Anderson, joined the Addington staff in January 1961 as a groundsman and was appointed Foreman in August of that year. Following the termination of Mr Harris’ employment Mr Anderson moved into the racecourse house and became Racecourse Foreman until March 1966 when he was made Course Superintendent, a position he still holds. During Mr Anderson’s term many major improvements have been carried out, many of them having been suggested and put into effect by him. Mr Anderson could be considered as a master of many trades from cabinet making to gardening having served his time in both these fields.


Credit: NZMTC: Historical Notes compiled by D C Parker



In the event that you cannot find the information you require from the contents, please contact Colin Steele in the Racing Department at Addington Raceway.
Phone (03) 338 9094