YEAR: 2022

Harness racing has lost one of its greats with the passing of famed horseman Jim Dalgety.

The 88-year-old passed away overnight on Wednesday at his home in Canterbury, where he had wanted to spend his final days.

He leaves behind a huge legacy in the industry not only as the patriarch of a famous harness racing family through son Cran and grandson Carter but for what he achieved personally and those he passed his skills on to.

A ruthlessly hard worker and deep thinker about the harness racing industry Jim learned his craft under legends like Maurice Holmes and Cecil Devine, settling in Canterbury after moving from his home town of Oamaru.

He was a successful trainer and breeder, owning many of his better horses which included the Great Northern Derby winning brothers Bolton Byrd and Melton Monarch, Bolton Byrd going on to win the Auckland Cup.

Bolton Byrd was driven in both those group 1 wins by a young Robert Dunn, Melton Monarch in his Derby triumph by Barry Purdon, just two examples of the impact Dalgety’s mentorship would later have in harness racing.

While they were his best the list of Dalgety stars, either trained, bred or owned was long: Golden Oriole, Happy Hazel, Scuse Me, Solberge, Lucy Lumber, Fancy Wishes, Imagine That, Rely, Astrazaani, Violetta, Jovial Jeanne, Dictatorship and Sunny Action, who caused one of harness racing’s greatest upsets downing Lyell Creek in the NZ Trotting Free-For-All.

But like most of the greats of the industry the deeds of his horses only tell part of the story.
“Dad was a hard worker and somebody who liked to do things the right way,” says son Cran.

“He instilled that in my brother Blair and I and everybody who worked with him.
“His knowledge was wonderful and he never stopped learning.”

Dalgety also stood stallions Bachelor Hanover and Out To Win and had an encyclopedic knowledge of bloodlines both here and in North America.

He imparted that knowledge on anybody who asked for his help, his pearls of wisdom always accompanied by his catch phrase “me old mate.”

Being called “me old mate” by somebody twice your age may have made plenty who talked to Jim smile but being welcomed into the “me old mate” club was like a warm blanket of experience being draped across your shoulder, harness racing’s version of having made it.

So Wednesday was the end of an era, with Dalgety joining other legends no longer with us like Derek Jones and most recently Roy Purdon, off for a drink with his real “me old mates.”

But what he achieved in his life, both as a family man and in harness racing, will be felt for decades to come.

Credit: 20 April 2022, Obituary HRNZ

Credit: HRNZ


YEAR: 2022

Denis Donovan Nyhan is being remembered as an exceptional horseman and administrator.

One of harness racing’s all-time greats, Nyhan has died in Christchurch hospital after a career that included three New Zealand Cup triumphs in the 1960s and 70s, with Lordship and Robalan.

Denis Donovan Nyhan

Part of a famous and highly successful racing family, his association with both horses is harness racing legend. They were crowd favourites during an era that featured other household names like Cardigan Bay and Young Quinn.

Sired by the great Johnny Globe, Lordship was a family success story: bred by mother Doris Nyhan, trained by father Don and driven by Denis to New Zealand Cup victory in 1962 and 1966.

Denis Donovan Nyhan

Lordship was just the second 4YO to win the NZ Cup (Lookaway 1957). He won 45 races from 138 starts, though how Denis got the regular drive behind him involved some luck, in March 1961.

Denis Nyhan : "On the morning Lordship was due to start in the Welcome Stakes I was following Dad in a workout when his horse cracked a bone in one of his forelegs and fell. I piled over the top of him and Dad was quite badly hurt.

"I got the drive then and won the Welcome. I was lucky enough to win the following three races with him, so Mum decided to keep me on," Denis said.

Don Nyhan died, at aged 99, in 2009, two years after wife Doris.

Denis Donovan Nyhan

Denis Nyhan’s New Zealand Cup win with Robalan in 1974 was at his fourth attempt in the biggest race of them all. Denis both trained and drove the free-legged star, who won 39 races between 1969 -76.

More suited to the shorter distances, Robalan won the New Zealand Free-For-All three years in a row (1972-74). Denis also drove Lordship to two of his three successes in the same race, in 1962 and 64.

Denis Donovan Nyhan

Nyhan’s other big race wins – and there were many – included the 1971 Northern Oaks (Van Glory), Hal Good in the 1975 Dominion Handicap, Cee Ar in the 1974 Rowe Cup, and Honkin Vision in the 1991 Junior Free-For-All.

In more recent times he had good success training and driving With Intent. The Sundon mare, bred and owned by Denis and his wife Denise, won 13 races from 97 starts (2007-14).

According to HRNZ statistics, Denis Nyhan’s career record stands at 475 driving successes after starting out as a junior driver in 1956, with 269 winners as a trainer, from 1969.

Former long-serving HRNZ administrator Darrin Williams had a lot to do with Nyhan over the years, describing him as a “superstar young driver”, who like his horses, always looked immaculate.

“He was the modern day Double D, (referring to 10-time NZ driving champion Dexter Dunn), he was Mr Cool.”
As chairman of the HRNZ handicapping committee, and a Board member for seven years, Nyhan was a respected administrator.

“I enjoyed his company, he was very intelligent,” says Williams, a former Handicapper and Racing Manager at HRNZ, “he was very keen on process and procedure and got frustrated with people who weren’t.”

Denis is survived by wife Denise, and two daughters Kim and Margo Nyhan.

He was 82.

Credit: HRNZ


YEAR: 2022

If you didn’t know him, or know the people who knew him you may be tempted to think the passing of Jim Dalgety was not quite the significant event many of those people believe.

Yes, Jim had two champion stallions in Bachelor Hanover and Out to Win. But quite a few people had already done that.

Yes, if you didn’t know the strike rate you might think his training career was good without being remarkable. He was an astute but not a regular driver and while that he bred horses to win the Great Northern Derby ,the Messenger and the Auckland Cup as well as many G1 filly events was a major achievement, it was hardly unique.

But if tempted by such a conclusion you drastically underrate Jim’s role as an industry “influencer” - as such high achievers are known these days.

Jim Dalgety

There was his impact on the breeding and racing world based on an encylopaedic knowledge of bloodlines, the passion of a lifetime, and an amazing memory. He could recite not only the pedigrees of current and past stars but also add colourful detail of their character and those associated with them. There was the generous advice offered to any breeding student beating a path to his door in search of greater knowledge. There was the high respect hardened professionals had for his horse skills. And of course there was the study, dedication, planning, enterprise, and willingness to forge his own path, to find a new challenge.

However there is another reason why the family is so welcoming of the interested wider public to his funeral next Wednesday at Addington (1 pm.). Jim was an elite performer, happy in his own company but also at ease interacting at all levels of the equine society with a well earned popularity because of it.

Brought up amidst a successful family farming operation in North Otago, with a more educated background than many of his fellow stablehands (he qualified as a woolclasser before starting his racing career) Jim always travelled first class when it came to unravelling the mystery of standardbreds. He had that rare combination of innovation and a deep regard for tradition.

Working for Cecil Devine, Maurice Holmes and Vernon and Stanley Dancer in the US (in that order) might not have been easy but it was the Holy Grail for many would-be horsemen of the era. He observed and absorbed much of their wisdom and in turn he earned their respect and friendship.

His training closely followed the Cecil Devine formula of spending long hours handling and observing his charges. He marvelled that Devine spent so much time with his horses that he knew when they were ready to win without needing to find out via track sectionals. He learned well.

“I got to know Jim when I bought our horses south to race at Addington and we were based there” another notable horseman Mark Purdon recalls.

“I grew to appreciate his great knowledge and especially on the practical side. He knew his horses well and did his horses well, prepared them thoroughly. Nothing was too much trouble. We became good friends. I admired him as a horseman as much as for his knowledge”

Tradition would certainly have played a role in one of most notable achievements, the importing of champion sire Bachelor Hanover. While Bachelor Hanover, bred at Hanover Shoe Farms, had been an outstanding, if well tried, youngster (26 starts at 2) and a hard hitting free-for-aller, his Axworthy sireline was out of fashion in the US and Bachelor Hanover had a double dose of it. He was then standing at a smaller stud up for dispersal at the time Jim bought him in 1964.

Jim knew however that Hal Tryax, also line bred to Axworthy, had been very successful here and Bachelor Hanover’s dam being closely related to Light Brigade could be an appealing proposition in New Zealand. So it proved. He was soon booked out years in advance.

Unlike his predecessor, Goodland, a noted first crop success but a rogue whose days were ended when he ran amuck on the boat returning to New Zealand after a stint in Australia, Bachelor Hanover was a wonderfully natured horse, once the guest in a special box at a Breeders Dinner in Christchurch,as well dressed and relaxed as any of the human guests.

Out to Win, sourced from the Dancers who also bred to him here, was another for tradition being from the Volomite line so successful in New Zealand in earlier eras - and again more recently - but at a time when the Hal Dale line, especially through Adios, was in the ascendancy in America. Out to Win quickly made Jim the owner of two premier stallions within three years, a remarkable feat for a smaller operation. Out to Win later had fertility problems and he was a disappointment as a broodmare sire compared to his “stablemate”.

Jim, a generous student, often paid tribute to John Johnston a North Otago studmaster who had stood the very successful Sandydale in past decades and owned the dam of Cardinal King, for the knowledge he imparted to a young enthusiast on breeding and stud work. He followed that example in his era.

Jim Dalgety

Robert Dunn, closely associated with Out to Win star Bolton Byrd during his time at Lantana Lodge, remembers his time working there with affection and respect.

“I went there really because I wasn’t sure I was going to make it as a driver and I wanted backup from stud work if I had to go into the breeding side. Jim sent me to the Wellington Cup meeting with Dwayne. Derek Jones was to fly up to drive but the airport closed and Jim just said I should drive him. I hadn’t driven much for two years and didn’t even have my gear. We were just beaten the first night by Young Quinn, close the second night and third in the Wellington Cup - a terrific field that year including Robalan”.

“Then I got to drive Bolton Byrd, mainly I think because Maurice Holmes who was very close to Jim had retired, and we won the Derby and later the Auckland Cup. Drives were hard to get for young guys then and the faith he showed in me was a turning point. In all the time I worked there we never had an argument. A great boss.”

Robert gave an example of Jim’s famed photographic memory and his flair for trying something different.

“We had around 200 mares on the farm when Bachelor and Out To Win were going and mainly just four of us, Jim, (his wife) Faye, a fine horsewoman and successful breeder in her own right, Tim Musson and me. The mares and foals never had tags on them. Jim knew every one. I remember him one day telling me a foal I was handling wasn’t with the right mare and we had better fix it. I couldn’t believe how he would know that.”

Bolton Byrd tied up badly and had a gait problem.

“Jim took him off oats and fed him dried peas with the other usual feed. Then he took a risk I thought, allowing an Australian friend try something really different with the shoeing. Yet those two decisions made the horse what he was”

Mike De Filippi, who drove Happy Hazel in some of her early successes, spoke highly of both the filly and her trainer.

“I always enjoyed driving for Jim. He left it to you and was never critical after a race. He understood race driving. I drove some top fillies (Bionic Chance, Take Care) and Happy Hazel was right up there” he recalls of only the third filly to reach open class as a three year old.

Peter Yeatman, who took Jim’s place at the Devine stable and later worked for him at Blakes Rd and West Melton (“Peter comes in the dark and goes home in the dark” was a Dalgety quote), also rated him a top employer and a man dedicated to his interests - though it wasn’t always plain sailing.

“Jim was always thinking or working but the routine could suffer. Sometimes when we could have brought the horses in we were delayed while he was on a project. He could look up something in the Stud Book at lunch time and an hour or more could pass. He was always friendly and I never saw him lose his temper. A bit of a character but he helped a lot of people and didn’t talk about it. We were leading the premiership half way through the season with 26 winners at West Melton but we ran out of race horses in the autumn. That was quite a feat then.”

Peter set up training after Jim retired from it and inherited his first winner, Local Star, from the stable which set him on his way. Jim was good at setting people up for careers. Jim had also raced the flashy Golden Slipper-winning two year old Rossini which Maurice Holmes sold to Australia at that age. Jim loved his horses but was also a realist and a seller as you needed to be. There were a host of other good performers in just a few years training on a larger scale. Too many to mention.

His success with mare selection has been equalled by few. The best known example was buying Bellajilly when she was battling in claimers in the US and with 80 starts on the clock. Jim, using the US contacts he had made on his trips, bided his time, bred her to Most Happy Fella and brought them home with the usual 6 months quarantine wait in the UK.

Jim Dalgety

While he would have known that the family was a noted producer of fillies going back to a pony mare of the 1920’s Krina he was also swayed that she was by Van Dieman (pictured). Sire and filly had been at the Devine property in his time there. Bellajilly, from the ponified Malabella, won the NZ Derby and Jim exercised Van Dieman by riding him because it wasn’t safe to do it any other way. Van Dieman may have been a mixed success at stud but was a potent cross with this family, also leaving Vanadium and Van Glory.

“Jovial Jeanie, the Most Happy Fella foal, got hurt somewhere on the way out, had a dropped hip and could only reach top pace right handed. Jim sent her up to Roy and Barry (Purdon). I think she won 9 in a row in Auckland,” Robert Dunn recalled.

Her foal Happy Hazel was “just a class above them” as a three year old, according to main driver Mark Purdon. The only disappointment was being unluckily beaten in the NZ Oaks adding to the jinx in that race for generations of the top filly descendants of Krina. It did not end until 2019 when Princess Tiffany won, trained by Mark, driven by partner Natalie.

Jim’s search for likely sorts from our traditional families continued with leasing of Petulus and her half-sister Wrack’s Gold, daughters of the first NZ Oaks winner Perpetua from Oamaru’s Andy Todd and close family the Ormandys, both of whom Jim knew well.

Petulus (Stormyway), from the No 1 Pride of Lincoln family, left high class filly and mare Golden Oriole to a Dalgety favourite, Local Light. Golden Oriole ended up beating all the stars of her time, colts included, and was later sold to the US for a then sensational 20,000 pounds by 17 year old Murray Butt who had leased and later bought her from Jim. She had been difficult in the education process and time was an issue with stud and racing commitments.

“Wes Butt came around one day saying he was looking to continue a family tradition of presenting a horse to his boys on turning 18 and asking if there was anything going. Jim said he wasn’t sure about the filly but he would lease it with a fairly low right to purchase for them to try.” Peter Yeatman recalled.

“He accepted those sort of things. He was never mean spirited about others' success. He was satisfied he had played a role”

Wrack’s Gold, by Local Light (and later sold to Australia for a record price for a broodmare) left Nikellora the dam of Bolton Byrd and Melton Monarch, both by Out to Win from the Bachelor Hanover mare and Jim’s best age group performers.

North Otago was the Dalgety gift that kept on giving. Jim’s father, also Jim, besides being a prominent farmer, a successful owner and breeder at Kakanui, gave his son his first training success with Vanity Scott at Forbury Park in 1959.

However Jim has been somewhat short changed over the credit for breeding broodmare superstar Scuse Me, officially credited to Mark Purdon, who confesses he doesn’t know how that happened.

“I had the mother Super Smooth, a beautiful mare but without much speed. Jim loved her and wanted to try her again and when that didn’t work out wanted to breed from her and we would race the progeny.” Mark recalls.
“He had B G’s Bunny at stud then and Scuse Me was the foal. It was really all Jim’s doing. The plan was to sell the foal but Jim rang and said she wouldn’t bring a big price, he really liked her and could we race her in partnership which we did," Mark said of the great broodmare.

NZ Cup winners Just an Excuse and Kyms Girl were among other stars Jim had a hand in breeding. And his stallion Farm Timer (sourced from the Dancers) left a special animal in Blossom Lady.

Jim Dalgety

Jim rather abruptly gave up public training in the mid 1960’s after moving to West Melton from the historic (that word again) Blakes Rd stable opposite Don Nyhan's Globe Lodge, where the mighty Harold Logan had once been trained. Jack Smolenski followed him. It was almost an overnight decision according to knowledgeable memories. He decided to concentrate on the stud, his cattle, a small team and as a buying agent for Stanley Dancer, famous here for training Cardigan Bay but a legend in US harness.

On one trip to the US (1967) Jim posted a win there himself at Freehold Raceway with Lyndhurst, a purchase from Ted Lowe. He had notable success as an agent including the purchase of Cardinal King which swept the International Series at Yonkers in 1968 and that earned the respect of several prominent Americans. There is a long list of other performers purchased and bred, again too many to mention.
Jim’s well-known experiment of crossing thoroughbred mares with his stallions in a bid to re-energise the standardbred was triggered by friend Jack Litten’s comment that inbreeding would lead to its extinction, something the Dancers also believed. It was another bold innovation but with a frustrating ending. History held that such an outcross had worked in the past and also more recently, with Angelo Dundee and especially Kata Hoiho, a top performer for Peter Yeatman. It needed five generations to evaluate the success of the mission and Jim gave up after four. Not from lack of belief. He was defeated by nature.

“We got too many colts. We wanted fillies. Made it very difficult” he said. He had two fillies in the first year, one from Carron, granddam later of high class thoroughbred Polly Porter, but the dominance of colts virtually ended the project.

Jim Dalgety

He started again more recently this time re-establishing the Arab influence prevalent in early trotting years in New Zealand and now with some current success from the stable of son Cran whose own great success is a notable third leg of a 4 generation harness dynasty with the emergence of grandson Carter. The continuation of the family tradition meant a lot to Jim.

He had more success with thoroughbreds on the track. A notable winner was Maxwelton, raced with well known thoroughbred breeder Joyce Edgar-Jones (Sailing Home) who streeted a field at Riccarton in 1970 at 82/1.
He was certainly astute enough to use his knowledge and reputation as a marketing tool and a powerful one it was. But unlike some breeders intent on protecting their own Jim brought an intellectual discipline to his observations. He was quick to acknowledge no matter how much you know there are even fewer certainties in the breeding barn than on the racetrack.

An example was Alberton. Jim was so disappointed with his stud performance (apart from Happy Hazel) that he said he never claimed the insurance when the horse died prematurely.

“I had persuaded so many of my friends to come to him I was just embarrassed with the results. It would have felt wrong for me to make any more money out of it”
Late in life he perhaps surprisingly rated the Auckland-owned Mister Chips when it came to the best he had handled. He took Mister Chips to NZ Cup class in the late 1960’s with a string of victories against the best in the business yet several other good trainers struggled to win a race with him.

“He was sent down to me from the north. He was like a thoroughbred and I trained him like a thoroughbred, cut out a lot of the slow work. Alf Bourne and other top trainers had a go later when he changed hands but he wasn’t the same horse. Couldn’t take the work most others could.”

Peter Yeatman agreed.
“I took him up to Auckland for Jim and I drove him in a lot of his work. He was a terrific horse, won them in a row. The only one who could foot it with him at home was a horse called Fielder and he would have been a Cup contender here. He was raced by Jim’s Dad and went to America with one of the teams”

In more recent years Jim’s harness profile receded somewhat as he turned his attention more to his farming and land interests having achieved much of what he wanted with horses. As with the family farm at Kakanui every post was painted white, often by Jim himself when required. Being particular was in the Dalgety DNA. But his enthusiasm for racing and breeding never flagged.
Jim’s cattle brought top prices at auction and he had a growing and successful interest in sheep. It would be fair to say he also felt some of the “people factor” had gone out of the breeding industry as increased commercialisation meant fewer hobby breeders and lesser interaction with them. Interaction with clients was his lifeblood. A stroke some time ago was a setback that didn’t daunt him. He was soon back in action, the prodigious memory affected, the spirit undimmed. Indomitable until the end.

James Scott Dalgety just seemed an essential part of the harness landscape. A star in reverse. He had walked the walk and people loved listening to him talking the talk. He had absorbed and remembered all he had learned and there was always an audience who appreciated that along with the words the deeds had been done.
“Me old mate” was his catch phrase, yet more than that. A signature tune.

One that knowledgeable people in harness racing will be singing for many many years to come.

Credit: Dave McCarthy 29 April 2022 HRNZ News


YEAR: 2022

By Frank Marrion courtesy of the HarnessXpress

There were no surprises when the support for Murray Edmonds’ recent fundraising night at Addington proved quite overwhelming.

Edmonds was one of the genuine ‘nice guys’ of the game who would pretty much do anything for anybody and one never heard a bad word about him.

The overall support extended to Murray and wife Kelly was also overwhelming during his brief illness with a brain tumour.

Murray passed away on Tuesday at the age of 62 – it was only about 10 weeks ago that out of the blue he collapsed while feeding out and was rushed to hospital.

The initial diagnosis was encouraging but the tumour proved inoperable and Edmonds lost the use of his left arm and leg, which was shattering for a man who liked to keep active and loved working his horses.

Edmonds had trained next to the Motukarara racecourse for 38 years and had the last of 377 wins when Get Back scored at Addington in late August.

Watching Our Coin and Gerard O’Reilly had briefly looked like giving Edmonds a fairytale ending by winning at Addington a fortnight ago on his fundraising night, which was sold out in a matter of hours.

The large crowd on hand for the event erupted when Watching Our Coin hit the front at the 100m mark, but he was nabbed right on the line by Rakanotta and Carter Dalgety, beaten just a half head.

Edmonds usually drove his own team and had 345 wins in that respect, the last with Watching Our Coin at Addington in February.

He was driving right up until the time of his surprise and fatal illness.

Watching Our Coin pretty much summed up Edmonds’ attitude to training for his owners.

He was acutely aware of the costs involved in racing horses and did his utmost to keep them to a minimum, often doing stuff for people without charging them.

He avoided calling vets whenever possible although Kelly used to be a vet nurse for Bob McKay in Riccarton and between them they could usually manage most issues.

“That was probably to his detriment to some extent, but it summed up how much he cared about people,” said younger brother Craig.

“He was very loyal to his owners and his owners were very loyal to him.

“Guys that worked for him along the way like Michael Howard, Darren Simpson, Todd Macfarlane and Brent White, they became like family.

“Brent actually lived on the property for quite a while.”

Howard and his father Graham were among those to help with the team when Edmonds was sidelined.

Ray McNally also helped out stable employee Brett Gillan in those remaining months and many others contributed in other ways.

“Jimmy Curtin would also come and help with fast work along with Tim Williams when he could.”

The Edmonds family grew up in Lower Hutt and Craig can recall being introduced to trainers at nearby Hutt Park by an Irishman called Wesley ‘Paddy’ Armstrong when they were about 9-10.

“I wound up helping out Bill Marwick and Murray worked by Brian Hunter, a cousin of Ian Hunter and I think Charlie.

“Trainers would also come up from Canterbury and Murray wound up working for Colin Berkett in his school holidays.

“He moved to Canterbury when he was 18 and Colin also had Mike DeFilippi working for him in those days.

“When Mike went out of his own, he asked Murray to work for him.”

Edmonds married when he was 24 and bought the Motukarara property shortly after from Alex Purdon.

His first training win was with Idle Thoughts, who Murray drove to win a double at the Marlborough meeting in February, 1986.

Edmonds had already driven several winners at that point including 15 as a junior driver, the first with the Mike DeFilippi-trained Abel Royal at Methven in September, 1979, or 43 years ago.

Abel Royal was raced by Edmonds’ mother Gloria so he was no doubt doing much of the work with him.

Edmonds had his first big win when Anvil Lad won the Group 2 Forbury Park 4yo Pacing Championship in February, 1992, with DeFilippi driving.

Anvil Lad had been purchased by Graham Beirne after qualifying for Edmonds and was Beirne’s first horse.

He won nine races with Edmonds driving him in the other eight, with the last of them at Addington when he beat Blossom Lady.

Edmonds took Anvil Lad to the Inter Dominions at Albion Park in April, 1993, but failed to qualify for the final won by Jack Morris.

Edmonds trained and drove the filly Breton Abbe to win the Hambletonian Classic a few weeks after that Forbury Park feature and a few months later, they won the Group 2 Rosso Antico Trotting Stakes in Auckland.

The Rosso Antico became the Group 1 Great Northern Trotting Derby in 2002.

Edmonds won 18 races that season and 22 the following year, while he achieved a career high 24 training wins in 2000 and had 23 in 2008.

It was in the winter of 1999 that Edmonds won the Sales Series race for two-year-old trotters with Flip Flop in Auckland, while Sun Del (2nd in Trotting Stakes, Sires Stakes & Sales race at two) and New Year Whiz (2nd NZ Trotting Derby) were other top young trotters in the stable around that time.

Edmonds was going to win the Sales race for two-year-old trotters at Addington in 2006, but Ronnie Coute galloped after hitting the front less than 100m from the finish.

The Sundon gelding redeemed himself 10 months later by winning the three-year-old Sales race however.

Around this time, Edmonds had his best performer in Running On Time, like Ronnie Coute another Sundon gelding which had been bought at the yearling sales by Eric ‘Cookie’ Inward of Nelson.

Running On Time was beaten by Sovereignty in the Sires Stakes and the Great Northern Derby in 2008 and the following year he finished third in the Group 1 NZ Trotting FFA on Cup Day, beaten half a length by Speculate.

Running On Time won 10 races and $138,000, while a short time later Edmonds trained a good Muscle Mass trotting filly for Inwood in K D Muscles.

She was second in the Sales race at three at Addington to Thebestlove and was also runner-up in the Trotting Oaks to Majestic Time before a sale to Australia, where she won nine races in nine months in Victoria and finished second in the Group 1 Knight Pistol to Sunny Ruby.

Not long after, Edmonds trained a son of Muscle Mass in Heavyweight Hero as a two-year-old for Inwood.

Edmonds drove him to finish second in the Sales race and third in the Sires Stakes at Addington to Enghien.

But following the passing of Inwood, the family wanted the horses gone, so Edmonds arranged his sale to Todd Macfarlane, and in his first race for him, Heavyweight Hero was beaten a head at the Jewels in Cambridge by Custodian.

Edmonds’ name had become synonymous with trotters over the years and 215 or almost two-thirds of his training wins were with them.

Anvil Lad was easily the best of his pacers while he trained another good one for Beirne in Anvil James before his sale to Western Australia.

One of Edmonds’ last pacing winners in Teds Legacy is being raced by another one of his loyal owners in Ian Sunckell, a son of Ted who also had horses with Edmonds.

Teds Legacy and Get Back were Edmonds’ last starters in the same race at Addington last Friday night.

Edmonds’ oldest son Scott used to be the track manager at Motukarara and helped out Murray at the stables from time to time.

He now owns a couple of gyms and has a landscaping business, while Edmonds’ daughter Lisa is a beautician and runs her business out of one of those gyms in Lincoln.

The Edmonds family will be having a private cremation. – by Frank Marrion

Credit: HRNZ


YEAR: 2022

Colin De Filippi doesn’t hesitate for a second when asked to rate the talent of his brother Mike, who passed away at his Canterbury home on Friday.

"He was a better driver than me, right from the start,” says Colin.

It is one of the ultimate compliments for Mike, who would have turned 72 on October 30 but died after a difficult last year of failing health

While the dual De Filippis have been part of our industry for as long as anybody can remember Mike’s name has not been as prominent in recent years as first his eyesight then his health started to deteriorate.

But there was a reason both brothers are in the elite 1000-win driving club. For all Colin’s polish and patience Mike (1161 career wins) was confidence and guile, both natural horsemen who chose to sharpen different tools of the ones they were gifted.

There was a time in the 1980s and 90s they were feared by rivals and loved by punters in an era of horsemen like Robert Cameron, Peter Jones and Jack Smolenski to mention a few. A time of rare skill and plenty of cunning. Even then, whether it be dominating Victoria Park in Greymouth or pulling off a sting at Addington, Mike was a small giant, armed with total self belief.

“He was a better driver than me right from when were young,” says Colin matter-of-fact.

Even though you know the comments of a loving brother will be through the rose-tinted glasses of grief, Colin says there was proof of his talent long before Mike found this throne in a sulky.

“He was always a talented sportsman, he was a bloody good rugby player and I kind of wish he hadn’t given it up so young,” says Colin.

“And he could box. He has fast hands but his only real boxing fight came when he was six in Reefton.

“Dad took him along there and the only other kid they had him to fight was eight years old and the doctor didn’t want to allow it cause Mike was so small.

“Dad said let him fight cause he will be okay and Mike beat the other kid up and after that Did didn’t take him back to boxing any more.”

He put those fast hands and sharp eyes to spectacular use in the sulky and had his share of really good horses like Quiet Win, who finished third to Bonnies Chance and Armalight in a real New Zealand Cup in 1982.

Another of his good pacers Hoppy’s Jet was good enough to win an Ashburton Flying Stakes 26 years ago beating big Cups winners in Bee Bee Cee, Master Musician and Burlington Bertie.

Sundowner Bay was a highly talented trotter, Alias Armbro who Mike drove to win the 1979 Dominion may have been a better one.

Mike also triumphed in one of our most infamous harness races, the 1984 NZ Derby which Naval Officer won after a sickening smash that saw nine horses fall at the Addington winning post 200m after the start.

Only five horses remained on their feet and Mike, not one to get fazed, secured the one-one with Naval Officer and timed his run to perfection to win the classic like nothing has happened until after the race.

That was Mike De Filippi. Laser-sharp focus, determined, talented, little time for fools but all the time in the world during a race.

He is survived by four daughters and two sons.

He is also survived by some great stories and iconic moments. And tremendous respect inside his industry.

Credit: Michael Guerin


YEAR: 2021

Trevor Beaton is being remembered as a passionate supporter of harness racing who will be sorely missed.

He’s died in Christchurch aged 70 after a battle with cancer.

“For over 40 years he was involved in standardbreds,” says good friend Graeme Iggo, “what quickly comes to mind are his high ethical standards, his passion, his generosity, his sense of humour and his loyalty.”

He was a former president of the Canterbury branch of the NZ Standardbred Breeders Association, vice president of the national body of the NZSBA, president of the Hororata Trotting Club and for two years was a HRNZ Board member. He also worked part time for HRNZ educating and training cadets.

“He was such a positive and jovial guy who was totally immersed in the industry,” says former HRNZ Board member Allan Brown.

Education was a big part of Beaton’s life and he was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for services to education. He retired in 2011 after being the principal at Cobham Intermediate in Christchurch for 15 years.

As a horse breeder he produced over 80 foals and was a highly respected preparer of yearlings for the sales, having won Best Presented Yearling on several occasions.

“The first mare he bought and bred from was Samantha Scott in 1972 which he paid $2500 for,” says Iggo, “he often laughed about the fact that the horse was worth four times his only other asset at the time – his $600 car.”

Current HRNZ Board member Ken Spicer recalls a trip to the Kaikoura races just last November when Beaton’s health was not good.

“Four of us stayed on course and his horse Admirable won, it was his first win there and a good ending to the yearly pilgrimage,” said Spicer.

“Trevor was a very good mate and we will all miss him dearly”

“He had made many friends in harness racing throughout the country,” said Iggo, “and he will be a significant loss, not only to these friends but to the industry itself.”

Funeral details to be advised.

Credit: 5 March 2021 , Obituary HRNZ


YEAR: 2020

Aged 87, well-known racing identity Ivan Schwamm has passed away, only months after training his last winner.

It was just October last year when his four-year-old trotter Majestic Sunset and driver Jimmy Curtin combined to win at Timaru.

“I got him for nothing off Bruce Negus. Bruce bred him, and trained him, but didn’t really like him.

According to an interview he gave at the time , the victory at the Phar Lap raceway was clearly a thrill : “It was so great at the races today, the number of people that called out to me, owners, trainers, drivers – many of them I’ve known for years and years. It’s a fellowship and I love it.”

It’s an industry he was part of for nearly 70 years, after first gaining his license while living in Palmerston North in 1954-55.

Trotter Perekop was one of his early success stories, while Rocky Star was a stand-out. Against a field of 25 starters, he took out the 1966 Hawera Cup and was a 10-race winner.

It appeared Schwamm also had an entrepreneurial streak. He started out milking cows and shearing, and in the 1960s negotiated the sale of numerous horses to North America.

“I would hire an aeroplane to take a consignment of 21 horses at a time and I was in the business for 10 years”.

He was associated with some great horses. He trained and drove the great mare Tussle to success early in her career after regular trainer and owner Cliff Irvine was away overseas. Tussle ended up winning 38 races including the 1987 Interdominion final at Addington.

He also drove Ruling Lobell to victory in the Group 2 Welcome Stakes in 1976. Starting a $2.90 favourite he won by five lengths for trainer Des Grice.

1976 was his best year for driving with 11 wins while as a trainer, he had 122 winners from more than 1700 starters from the 1950s through to the 2020s. The veteran trainer-driver had a stable at Leeston on the outskirts of Christchurch but did most of his work with the horses on the roadside.

Known for his bold driving tactics, in 2010 the then 77 year old drove his own horse Doc’s Delight to a win at Rangiora. It was his first for two seasons.

At the time the horse was trained by Lew Driver. He followed that up with Saltwater Gold’s success at Orari in 2015.

He will be remembered as one of harness racing’s most enduring characters

Credit: NZ Harness News, 8 April 2020, David Di Somma


YEAR: 2020

Lochie Marshall – A club man through and through

Harness racing stalwart Lochie Marshall is being remembered as a tireless worker for the industry.

Born “Lachlan MacArthur Marshall” he died in his home town of Geraldine this week after a battle with Leukaemia.

He had a long association with the sport, as a race-caller, trainer, and administrator. He was a past president and life member of the Geraldine Trotting Club, which is currently celebrating its 150th year.

“He was part of the club’s fabric,” says current Geraldine president Mark Weaver, “the sort that makes every club stick together.”

“As a builder his skills were handy …... and the number of trials and work-outs he organised, well god knows how many.”

As a commentator Marshall was described as a “chanter” and he was a regular at racetracks and on the airwaves. He called his first races in 1964 as a 19 year old and while South Canterbury and Central Otago were his most common gigs, he did have stints further afield at Forbury Park, Hutt Park and Riccarton.

He commentated until the early nineties, about the same time he started training winners.
He had 13 wins from 196 starters, exclusively with trotters. His most successful association was with Missie Castleton. She has had 81 starts for six wins and $62,701 in stakes.

Marshall trained her up until his deteriorating health forced him to transfer her to other stables.

Harness Racing New Zealand says “Lochie was very well known and very respected throughout the industry and his craft will be sadly missed by all.”

Credit: NZ Harness News, 24 Mar 2020


YEAR: 2020

by David McCarthy

Harness racing lost one of its best reporters and analysts with the passing of long time Press trotting editor Jeff Scott.

Jeff had suffered from the effects of a brain tumour diagnosed after he collapsed on a golf holiday in Queensland in mid-2019. Treatment proved unsuccessful.

He died as he had lived. Brave, stoic, cheerful to the end in the face of great adversity. It was also a reflection of his career in racing journalism where he was a true professional in an era of rapid change.

From farming stock in Southland, Jeff was a harness fan from an early age and while still at school had some work published in what was then the Trotting Calendar. Much of his time was spent developing his love affair with trotting. The premature deaths of both parents were an early battle with adversity handled in his usual quiet competent fashion,

In 1977 he joined the Southland Times as a cadet under Norman Pierce and later Don Wright and was soon being noticed for his work. In 1982 he was hired by The Press as assistant to longtime editor Geoff Yule whom he succeeded with Yule’s firm support in 1987. He was then already editor of the highly popular Trotting Annual which he continued for four years.

Even though the journalism world was changing in the wake of new technology Jeff remained true to the essential harness tradition of his earlier years. His analysis of trials and races; the sectional times and the field quality led him to be an expert selector primarily because he was not easily swept away by fads and fallacies. It was always form where Jeff was concerned and, especially as there were no replays of workouts and trials in those times, he had a large following.

Jeff also had a wide knowledge of harness racing in all its forms and in all countries and continued to be well informed about the local and national scene. He probably had no equal in his time in this respect and it was the source of many news stories

In later years, with the virtual demolition of the racing department of the Press through computerisation and technology and with the demand for more drama and controversy in content he was less at ease believing readers wanted substance rather than style.

A wrist problem associated with RSI was typical of Jeff’s work ethic. While some others took weeks and months off work to recover he carried on without complaint. He finally resigned in 2005 having achieved all those early goals from his cadet days. It would be fair to say some industry trends dismayed him but he never let it affect his basic love of the standardbred sport.

Jeff enjoyed his leisure time especially through golf where he was a leading member of a Press-based group with their own “PGA” series of “majors” and "minors” with whom he made 13 trips to Australia. In all he won 49 tournaments. In marked contrast to his racing activities Jeff could be somewhat inconsistent on the golf course - largely because of the wrist problems- but almost unbeatable on a good day. Fair to say his golf form would not have appealed to him as a harness selector.

Jeff was no extrovert and underrated by some because of it, but his dry sense of humour helped him through times good and bad and was soon appreciated by his associates. He also had a canny ability to quickly sum up character and personality in others

Jeff continued to work in the industry through form comments and selections for Australian publications and latterly web site management for Mark Jones and Cran Dalgety. His enthusiasm never let up and he was watching races on both sides of the Tasman until very recently with the usual solid analysis being offered after each one.

Jeff was and remained devoted to his wife Nicola and sons Chris and Cam, merely an extension of his honourable character in the best of Southland traditions.

Jeffrey John Scott was 59. It is not in this case just a cliche to say he will be sadly missed.

Credit: David McCarthy


YEAR: 2020

By Dave Di Somma - Harness News Desk

Awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to harness racing in 2012, respected breeder, owner and administrator Jim Wakefield has died in Christchurch, aged 87 .

The NZ Trotting Owners Association representative on the Harness Racing New Zealand executive from 1998 to 2010, he went onto become Chairman from 1999 to 2003.

According to friend and former HRNZ chair Ken Spicer: “He will remembered as one of Harness Racing’s best leaders and administrators.”

A key figure in developing the Racing Act 2003, he was also Harness Racing New Zealand’s first appointment to the New Zealand Racing Board (2003-06), and chaired the organising committee for the World Trotting Conference in Christchurch in 2007.

Former HRNZ chief executive Edward Rennell remembers someone who was “very professional in everything he did .. he treated everyone with respect”.

“My abiding memory is that he was very strong on industry integrity and maintaining high standards.”

As an owner, breeder and prolific yearling sales purchaser he and wife Dr Susan Wakefield have been associated with star horses such as Bettor’s Strike, Sparks a Flyin (21 wins), Texican, Scorching, London Express and London Legend (25 wins).

Bettor’s Strike was second in Monkey King’s 2009 New Zealand Cup with the Wakefields having a long and successful association with both driver and trainer that day, Dexter Dunn and Cran Dalgety.

Outside of harness racing, Jim Wakefield was a fellow (Hon Retired) of the NZ Institute of Chartered Accountants having been a member since 1956. He joined the Christchurch office of what became KPMG in 1952. He spent 27 years as a partner in the firm with three of these being Christchurch managing partner.

“He was a very astute business man, hard but very fair,” says Spicer

Highly thought of in the business and harness racing worlds, Wakefield was also a chairman and director of numerous private and public companies, as well as a philanthropist and avid art collector.

Spicer : “A very modest and understated man, as a friend he was a great mentor and was always available to give advice ... he was a wonderful man.”

A celebration of Jim's life will be held at the Westpark Chapel, 467 Wairakei Road, Burnside on Friday, December 4, at 2pm.

Credit: Dave Di Somma

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