CLICK HERE TO GO BACK
Punters are being asked to kick the smoking habit for the first time in Addington Raceway's 118 year history on Friday night (8 Sept).
The home of the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club will host what is thought to be the first ever smokefree harness racing meeting in New Zealand. Addington's bold initiative comes just a week after the smokefree Daffodil Raceday at Hastings on Saturday. That was believed to be the first smokefree thoroughbred race meeting in New Zealand.
Friday's meeting will be the first harness racing leg of the Daffodil Racedays - a joint venture between the New Zealand Racing Board(NZRB), New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing(NZTR) and Harness Racing New Zealand(HRNZ) to raise money and awareness for the cancer society.
Addington's acting chief executive Brian Thompson said the decision to go smokefree for the night was a no brainer that required little to no discussion. "It's a great way to show support for the Cancer Society," he said. Initial feedback has been positive but there will be no heavy handed enforcement for those who do light up.Anyone found smoking by 'Smokefree Stipendiary Stewards' at Addington, will be asked to make a donation to the Cancer Society for their breach of the smokefree rule.
Thompson was confident the smokefree policy will be supported and his optimism will be further boosted by the results from the Hastings experiment. Hawkes Bay Racing chief executive Andrew Castles said reaction to the smokefree policy at Hastings on Tarzino Trophy day had been positive. He did not receive any complaints or negative comments. "Our on-course turnover was up 30% on last year and that was on a cold wet day," he said.
Addington will look to form a partnership with the Cancer Society and has chosen it to be one of their charities of choice in the lead up to Cup Week. The smokefree race night coincides with the release of 1000 Dexter Dunn bobbleheads.
The bobbleheads are in recognition of Dunn becoming the youngest driver to achieve 2000 wins on New Zealand soil and the profits from the sale of the bobbleheads will go to the Cancer Society.
The Cancer Society is a non-government organisation totally reliant on community support and donations. Elizabeth Chesterman, chief executive of the Cancer Society's Canterbury-West Coast Division was delighted Addington had chosen to go smokefree for the evening and said it recognised the importance of the Cancer Society's goal to make New Zealand Smokefree by 2025. on
Credit: The Press 8 September 2017
In the earliest days of trotting in NZ, match races proved popular tests of speed and stamina as well as the avenue for gambling. Most tests were run over the distance of three miles although several were often of greater length - journeys of ten to twelve miles with a minimum weight limit of eleven stone. An example of this was a race run from Dunstan to Cromwell approximately 12 miles over hill and down dale on a rough road.
As early as 1864 match races were being held in South Canterbury where local champion cob Tommy(H Waldon) had won six races by mid 1865. Match races were popular in the area with distance events being run from Makikihi to Waimate(approx. 19kms) and Washdyke to Temuka(approx. 15kms). Wagers of amounts as large as £100 were placed. In 1868 a match for £200 a side was held on the Silverstream course near Dunedin between Flora Temple(E Pritchard) and Tommy(Horace Basting). Both owners rode their steeds in a race won by Flora Temple in a time of 9 minutes 39 seconds.
In the 1870s in the Wanganui area, a 16 mile race from Oroua Bridge to the Club Hotel Palmerston North and back was contested by Millie trained and ridden by Tom Hammond from York Farm near Marton. Hammond had predicted that Millie could run the journey in under one hour. Millie, of unknown pedigree, ran the 16 miles in 55½ minutes with Ron Bisman remarking in Salute To Trotting that 'Hammond...made good time. Arriving in Marton, he quaffed a shandy and pressed on'.
In Christchurch in the mid 1870s, a 12 mile race on Yaldhurst Road for £200 a side, took place between Black Boy(rider J Hamilton, breeder Mr Deans of Homebush) who trotted the distance in 36 minutes easily accounting for Hammond's Millie(now owned/trained by Frank Evans of Bulls and hotelkeeper of Rutland Hotel, Wanganui). It was stated that the straps on a breastplate cutting into her shoulder was the cause of Millie's defeat. She later raced in wagon with Marmion and also served in the Marton coach.
Another match race took place between W Kirkwood's Our Pony and Jenny(B Hale) between the Heathcote Bridge to the Caversham Hotel(later King George) on the corner of Madras Street and Ferry Road, Christchurch. Our Pony won by 200 yards earning an unknown but large stake. Subsequently taken to Dunedin, Our Pony(rider W Thompson) competed at Tahuna Park over three miles on the second day of 1881 Dunedin Jockey Club's Cup meeting for a £200 a side purse against Native Cat. Our Pony, won easily by 5 seconds(rider W Thompson, stockman for mercantile firm) from Native Cat(scr) ridden by Harry Goodman in 8 minutes 30 seconds. Match races remained popular with another taking place between Mr Harry Murfitt's Drain Road and Mr Core's Polly at Rangiora for £75 a side. On Lincoln Road, Christchurch(close to current Addington Raceway site), a match between Mr Archie Muir's Dick and champion mare Doctor's Maid was won by Dick by two chains.
A good example of a match race was held at Forbury Park on Monday 30 November 1885, the second day of Dunedin Jockey Club's spring meeting. This was also believed to be the South Island's first trotting race in harness(as opposed to saddle). The race over 3 miles for £50 a side was between Mr A Drake's Dot off scratch and Mr G Smith's Constance receiving 300 yards start. The Otago Daily Times of 1 December 1885 reported:
"Mr Drake's pony - a pretty little thing with splendid action - settled down to trot in earnest after about half a mile had been gone, and had made up 100 yards of the concession at the end of the first mile. Constance was trotting steadily, but continued to lose ground at a great rate in the second mile, and in coming round to the stand again Dot passed her, this virtually finished the race. Mr Drake pulled in his little mare during the third mile, but trotted away again in the straight a very comfortable winner."
The journey had been covered in 12 minutes 33½ seconds, a full 4 minutes 25 seconds slower than Tommy had recorded to win the handicap trotting race on the first day of the meeting on Saturday 28 November. This possibly says as much about the carts used, heavy. high wheeled, bone shaking contraptions with steel wheels, as it does about the superiority of Mr Drake's pony(with acknowledgement to the unpublished history of trotting at Forbury Park).
A New Zealand record for trotters was established during a match race between Wildwood and Prince Imperial at New Brighton on 24 September 1896. Wildwood recorded a time of T2:24.2/5TT. In his time he had been known to trot a half mile in 1:06.2/5 on Henry Mace's track at New Brighton(eventually purchased by New Brighton Trotting Club).
FRITZ v RIBBONWOOD:
Fritz, the great Australian trotter was by Vancleve from Fraulein, dam also of very good performers Freda, Franz, Frederick, The Heir and Prinz. Fritz is best remembered in NZ for a series of match races against Ribbonwood(Wildwood/Dolly) conducted on the first day of the NZMTC's three-day Easter carnival on Saturday 11 April 1903. It was one of the biggest attractions for trotting attracting interest both locally and throughout Australia. Dave Price, Ribbonwood's owner/trainer/driver issued a challenge to race any horse Australasia-wide for £500 a side, best three of five heats over a mile with each side putting up £500 or 1000 sovereigns in total for the match race. The NZMTC put up a £100 gold cup or the cash if Ribbonwood's 2:11.2/5 Australasian record was bettered. A full copy of the match race conditions agreed between Dave Price(Ribbonwood) and John Arthur Buckland through his agent Claude Piper(Fritz) can be found in Karl Scott's "Pillars of Harness Horsedom".
The crowds flocked in from all over the country - by steamer from Wellington and special excursion trains from throughout the South Island. There were many attendees also from Australia. The crowd included the country's Premier, the Right Hon. Richard John Seddon, numerous public figures and representatives of the Canterbury Jockey Club.
Matching a 4yo black NZ pacing stallion against a then 12yo bay Australian trotting gelding was likely to lead to only one result especially as Buckland had little time to ready Fritz for the match race. So it proved, before a crowd of 11,000, age won out as Ribbonwood comfortably outshone Fritz over 3 heats in mile times of 2:14.1/5, 2:13.0 and 2:10.0(new NZ record). The NZMTC then put up £100 if Ribbonwood could beat 2:10. A week later on day three of the Easter meeting, Ribbonwood lowered his NZ record to 2:09.0TT, a time which stood until beaten by his son King Cole(2:08.3/5TT) in August 1911. It is worth noting that the Addington track in those days was just under five furlongs in circumference without the banking or surface it had in latter years.
It must be acknowledged that both Fritz and Ribbonwood were great horses, superior to others of their day. Fritz was undisputed champion of Australia up until the time of the match race while Ribbonwood was the up and coming dominant horse in the Dominion. Fritz was past his best at the time of the challenge but Buckland, a true sportsman, took up the challenge although knowing the advantage lay with the younger horse. Fritz was reported by Buckland to have been working private trial miles in 2:06.0 at home but that was not to be the case when it mattered.
NATIVE CHIEF v GREAT BINGEN:
This flying one-mile exhibition match race was held at NZMTC's summer meeting on 11th February 1928 at Addington. Following five false starts, Native Chief(Logan Pointer/Regina De Or)driven by Jack Kennerley led throughout to defeat Great Bingen(Drum Withers) by three lengths in a time of 2:04.1/5 with thew first half in a minute(NZ record was Acron's 2:03.3/5 set in 1924).
KORO PETER v FIRST WRACK:
A match race between 2yo trotters was unheard of until Wednesday 27 June 1928 when the Auckland Trotting Club scheduled the 2yo Trotters' Challenge Stakes(175 sovs of which 25 sovs went to the loser), a race between the gelding Koro Peter(Peter Moko/Koro Ena) and filly First Wrack(Wracker/Pearlchild) over 1¼m. They were the first 2yo trotters to show any sort of form for many years. Koro Peter(owner/trainer/driver T Cooper) had won the Introductory Hcp(1½m) over a large all age field(23 starters) by 1½ lengths(T3:54.2/5) at Cambridge's annual meeting on 5 May 1928.
He was immediately sold for £500 to Mrs I E Sweetapple, who became one of Jack Shaw's major Auckland owners. First Wrack, bred and owned by Harry Nicoll had finished third in open company(as a 2yo against 22 other starters) in the Allenton Hcp(1½m) at Asnburton on 21 April 1928(winner Author Thorpe in T3:43.2/5). The totalisator fielded on the event with Koro Peter favourite for the North/South battle.
In Ron Bisman's Harness Heroes, Jack Shaw recalls, "It was a terrible day. The going was fetlock deep in slush, and the two horses had to frighten thousands of seagulls off the track as they went along. These birds frightened First Wrack more than they did Koro Peter, and Koro Peter managed to win after a great struggle all the way up the straight."
Koro Peter, driven by Jack Shaw beat First Wrack(Dan Warren) by 2½ lengths in T3:34.2/5. Koro Peter was sold after the match race to G McMillan for £1,000 and subsequently performed well from Roy Berry's Yaldhurst stable(leading stake earning trotter 1930). First Wrack also became a top class trotter(Sockburn/Middleton Hcp Trots).
INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP TROTTERS MATCH:
This match race was held at a NZMTC meeting at Addington on 4 February 1933 for a stake of 200 sovereigns to the winner. The 1½ flying start event was won by Durbar Lodge's Wrackler(tr: Jack Behrns, dr: Maurace Holmes) by 1½ lengths in a time of 3:18.0. The placegetters were Olive Nelson(2nd), Todd Lanzia(3rd), Stanley T(4th) with Peterwah the other starter.
WALLA WALLA v REST
Without doubt the most star-studded match race series ever undertaken in NZ was held in the autumn of 1934. The NZMTC made arrangements for Australian champion and glamour pacer Walla Walla(1922 Globe Derby/Princess Winona) to contest a series of seven match races held throughout the country involving Harold Logan(1922 Logan Pointer/Ivy Cole), Red Shadow(1927 Travis Axworthy/Our Aggie), Roi L'Or(1923 Rey De Oro/Gold Queen), Jewel Pointer(1921 Logan Pointer/Jewel Chimes), Lindberg(1925 Author Dillon/Taruna Mary), Impromptu(1926 Pedro Promptu/Petrova) and Auburn Lad(1924 Globe Derby/Velocity) among others. These contests were enthusiastically received by the racing public with even track work of invited horses creating great interest weeks before the clashes.
Red Shadow was installed as favourite for these races with the first invitation race run over a mile(£500) on opening day of Addington's Easter carnival(Saturday 31 March 1934). Walla Walla (dr: Billy McKay, Owner: L S Martin) before a crowd of 22,000 began very fast setting a new world's best time from a standing start of 2:04.1/5 narrowly beating Harold Logan by a neck with Red Shadow in third place three lengths away. Walla Walla did not acclimatise well and was not seen at his best during the remainder of the match race series. Harold Logan was to the fore in the remaining six races beginning with Addington's second day of the Easter carnival(Wednesday, 4 April). Walla Walla put his foot through Jewel Pointer's cart and sidelined his chances with a mile to run, leaving Harold Logan(driven throughout the series by Maurice Holmes for owner E F C Hinds) to pace a slow 3:16.2/5 for 1½m(£500) winning by ¾ length from Red Shadow, Lindbergh and Jewel Pointer.
At Auckland's Autumn meeting (Saturday 28 April), Harold Logan led throughout to win again over 1¼m(£300) by 1¼ lengths on a soft track from Walla Walla, his stablemate Auburn Lad, Red Shadow and Jewel Pointer in 2:45.2/5. At the Northland club's annual meeting held at Alexandra Park(Monday, 30 April), C Moran's Impromptu(dr: Jack Shaw) defeated Red Shadow by a short neck with Harold Logan third after drifting off the rails at a vital stage. They were followed in by Auburn Lad, Lindbergh and Worthy Light in the 1¼m(£200) journey on a muddy track in 2:42.2/5. Walla Walla did not start.
Next it was Forbury Park's turn(Wednesday 9 May) where the muddy Track was so bad horses were required to race in the middle of the track. Harold Logan beat Walla Walla(the only starters) who had set a strong early pace by half a length over 1 mile(£250) in 2:13.1/5. Moving onto Oamaru three days later(Saturday 12 May) Harold Logan prevailed over 1¼m(£300 plus trophy) from Red Shadow, Walla Walla and Roi L'Or in a time of 2:43.1/5. The final match race in the series was held a week later at Wellington's Hutt Park(Saturday 19 May) where Harold Logan recorded his fifth win in the seven race series, this time over 1¼m(£250) in 2:42.0 by a short neck from Impromptu, Red Shadow, Walla Walla, Auburn Lad, Lindbergh and Glenrossie. It was later revealed that Walla Walla had been suffering from a severe cold.
VAN DERBY v LAWN DERBY:
A match race between descendants of Ribbonwood(grandsire of their dam Roselawn) in half brothers Van Derby(Globe Derby/Roselawn) and Lawn Derby(Robert Derby/Roselawn) for £200 appearance money took place on Alexandra Park's then, six furlong grass track during the 1938 Christmas carnival(Saturday 31 December 1938, third day). Van Derby trained and driven by F J(Wizard)Smith outlasted Lawn Derby(Jack O'Shea) by half a length in an Australasian grass track flying mile record of 2:01.1/5(half 1:00.3/5). This time equalled Indianapolis's dirt track record, which had been the best in Australasia until Lawn Derby's 1:59.2/5 at Addington in November 1938, the first time 2 minutes had been bettered outside North America. Van Derby later time trialled at Epsom, Alexandra Park in 2:00.2/5(11 February, 1939). The achievements of these two champion pacers alone would merit their own story.
GOLD BAR v HAUGHTY:
At a special Patriotic meeting held at Addington on 27 March 1943 to raise funds for the war effort, Haughty(dr: Ossie Hooper) and Gold Bar(dr: Free Holmes) raced over a mile. Their battle saw Haughty prevail by two lengths in a new Australasian mares record of 2:00.2/5. Both horses established mile records of 1:59. 3/5TT - Gold Bar on 2 January 1942, second Australasian horse under two minutes after Lawn Derby and Haughty the third under two minutes on 11 November 1944, a NZ and Australasian mares record. They were the winners of three NZ Cups between in the mid 1940s(Haughty two, Gold Bar one).
JOHNNY GLOBE v OTHERS:
At Timaru on 7 March 1953 Johnny Globe took on several other superstars of the early fifties in Van Dieman, Burns Night, Vedette and Soangetaha over one mile. Between them, they were the winners of 2 NZ/GN derbies, 2 NZ Cups, 3 NZFFA's, 2 Auckland Cups and an InterDominion Grand Final. Johnny Globe prevailed on the grass in 2:04.2/5(first quarter in 30 seconds, half in 1:02.2/5) from Van Dieman and Vedette. To see screen footage of the even, google 'Timaru Harness Nostalgia' and enjoy.
PETITE EVANDER v NIGEL CRAIG:
Petite Evander was ready to fly out to North America so a match race was organised at Alexandra Park to take place at the Thames Club's meeting on 26 March 1977. In the preceeding month, Nigel Craig(Bevan Heron) had become Australasia's first sub two-minute trotter when he time trialled in T1:58.8 at Addington on 19 February 1977. Just three weeks later, Frank Weaver's Petite Evander(driven by John Langdon) became the first Australasian female trotter to break two minutes with her T1:59.8TT at Alexandra Park on 12 March 1977. The match race proved farcical with Nigel Craig dawdling through his first half in 1:06, three-quarters in 1:40.9 before sprinting home the last quarter in 29.9 winning by a half head in a ridiculously slow T2:10.8 for such quality trotters. This would appear to be the last match race held in NZ.
Credit: Peter Craig writing in Harnessed April/May 2016
AIR TRAVEL IN 1930's
It was the 1930s when Addington earlybirds were "buzzed" by a low-flying plane swooping across the course, with big waves from two passengers.
By 11am, one passenger, Ces Donald, was back at Addington to drive trotter Stand By in the first race. Stand By won, and Donald became the first horseman to drive at Auckland's Alexandra Park on one day and at Addington in Christchurch the next.
Among his Addington runners was the appropriately named Lindbergh in the feature race. Donald was anxious to drive his horses at both venues, and be in Christchurch to arrange entries for the meeting's last day. However, the conventional route - an overnight train to Wellington and the ferry to Christchurch that night - made that impossible.
Donald left Alexandra Park at 5.30pm and caught the Limited Express to Wellington at 7pm. He had arranged for the guard to rouse him and his travelling companion, Fred Kidd, so they could leave the train at Feilding about 6am.
A prominent pilot, Captain McGregor, had flown to Feilding from Christchurch the previous day. Donald and Kidd boarded the plane about 7.30am and the flight to Christchurch was uneventful. Donald was at Addington before 11am.
"It was my first trip in an aeroplane and there was no problems," Donald said at the time. "I did not do it just to drive Lindbergh. I have a lot of horses here and they need my attention."
"A lot of horses" was right. By 1937, he had 161 horses in his care in an era when 10 comprised a large stable.
However, the flight was not the only first for Donald. He started training in 1922, and 50 years later became the first trainer in any code to win 1000 races.
Credit: David McCarthy writing in The Press 7 Jan 2011
The major 5.1 magnitude aftershock in Christchurch this morning at 7.49am has led to the abandonment of tomorrow nights (Thursday) Harness Meeting at Addington Raceway.
The decision to abandon the meeting was made by the Club in conjunction with HRNZ officials.
Addington Raceway CEO, Shane Gloury, explained. “Everybody here worked so hard to get the place ready to go after the weekend, but this mornings’ aftershock put us back to where we were after the first quake.
“There is a range of issues that necessitated the abandonment. There is damage in many of our major rooms in the Metropolitan Stand – we’ve had ceiling tiles and light fittings that have collapsed and have been strewn across the floor, TV’s that have been destroyed, broken glassware and crockery and our lift has also been damaged. Many of the rooms are a mess.
“We also have the Welfare Centre at the Raceway in the Twiggers Stand There were 280 people that stayed here last night and that number is expected to swell after this morning’s aftershock which means that the Welfare Centre will require use of more rooms and facilities here over the next 48 hours. The Drivers’ Rooms and First Aid areas are also currently being used as a quarantine facility for those that are ill.
“Engineers inspected our building structures this morning not only to ensure the safety of those in the Welfare Centre, but also the other buildings that we use on race night. On a positive note there has been no structural damage to any of our buildings and the racetrack, lighting towers and stables all appear to be fine.”
“When you consider that tomorrow night’s racemeeting was to be at night, the wider obligation we now have to the community in respect of the Welfare Centre and the fact that aftershocks could occur during the racemeeting which could potentially threaten the health and safety of patrons, participants and workers, the decision became easy. There’s just too much risk involved to allow us to proceed with the racemeeting tomorrow night.”
All events scheduled at Addington Raceway through until Sunday 12 September have been cancelled including two greyhound race meetings and the Great NZ Craft Show. Addington expects next Monday’s trials to be conducted as planned and that harness racing will resume next Friday night for the feature Avon City Ford/Ordeal Cup meeting.
Credit: Shane Gloury
Friday, 21 April 2006 saw the publication of the last issue of the Friday Flash. As the name suggests the "Flash" was a weekly paper that covered all the weekend galloping, harness (and later) greyhound race meetings, track work and trials form and articles of general interest to followers of racing.
When it was first published on 22 June 1956, the "Flash" was confined to racing information, but over recent years, in an effort to bolster the paper's appeal, was expanded to cover a wide range of sports.
Over the years the "Flash" had been the source of much valuable information for both the punters and those with an interest in racing. Its demise will be sorely felt.
Credit: C G Steele
INTRODUCTION OF CLAIMING RACES
The Waikato club championed the cause of claiming races, which made their NZ debut at the Claudelands track on November 12 after the usual hoo-haa which greets anything new in trotting. Toronui who ran second last behind Regal Classic, was bought by Kevin Holmes for $7500 and has since won races in North America. Manurewa was claimed for $6000 at the Waikato club's next claimer in December and went on to win at Alexandra Park in May. The December claimer was won by Soanai Chief, a massive gelding, who won the Waikato's third claimer in March. There was also a claimer at the Northland meeting in February but again no horses changed hands.
Addington's sole claimer was a fizzer, with no horses being sold, but there was plenty of publicity after the race, won by ofter controversial gelding Scholar on November 18, a mobile 2000m event worth $2500, penalty free (except for maidens) with no restrictions, attracted 14 starters with punters investing only $44,105 in win and place bets.
The favourite Flaxton, valued at $10,000 by his connections, ran ninth. Scholar (Bob Negus), valued at $10,000 but out of the money in four lead-up events, won effortlessly, paying $6.05, earning the wrath of the crowd which gave the gelding one of the worst receptions accorded any winner at Addington. Negus was most upset by the demonstration. He maintained Scholar, a c3 pacer looked a good thing on paper before the race as most of his opposition were maidens or c1 pacers. Whatever the reasons, Scholar's claimer was the last at head-quarters.
Credit: DB Trotting Annual 1981
YEAR: 1979RECORD PLACE DIVIDEND?
Divvies don't often come better than this, if ever...pictured is Royal Victory whom we believe paid a record place price away back in 1950.
Trained by F F Scott (seen here in the cart) who was granted the first trainer's licence in Nelson in 1916, and driven by K Purdon, Royal Victory was beaten half a head and three lengths at the Marlborough Trotting Club's meeting in January that year.
And the record price? A mere £112/19/6...that is $225.95 these days.
Credit: Graham Ingram writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 28Aug79
YEAR: 1979HEROES ON COURSE
Every boys dream...to meet a genuine war hero. And it is twice the pleasure for Gary Argyle, Simon Philip and Campbell Lochhead as they shake hands with two Victoria Cross winners, Charles Upham (VC and bar) and Jack Hinton, seen here with Mid-Canterbury trotting identity Colin McLaughlin (right) at the Ashburton races the other day. Mr Upham owns the broodmare Lansdowne, named after his Parnassus, North Canterbury property, and Mr Hinton, from Auckland, races Special Fella in partnership.
NOTE: The road that runs through the Addington property from Whiteleigh Avenue to Wrights Road is named "Jack Hinton Drive" in recognition of Mr Hinton.
Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 9Oct79
DRIVING LICENCES FOR FEMALES
Three women have been licensed by the NZ Trotting Conference to drive in totalisator races in New Zealand.
Mrs Lorraine Watson, Miss Dorothy Cutts and Mrs Anne Cooney were granted licences to compete against the men at a meeting of the conference licensing committee in Auckland last week.
Miss Cutts, from Mangere, has been granted a professional driver's licence while Mrs Watson (Methven) was given an amateur driver's licence and Mrs Cooney, a professional probationary licence. Two licences were also issued for women to drive professionally at matinees and trials.
The criteria laid down by the Conference for the granting of licences to women is exactly the same as that which applies to the men.
Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 13Feb79
HOPPLES - ONCE SOCIALLY UNACCEPTABLE
The pacer, who now reigns supreme on the light harness scene, was once considered the poor relation.
In the early days of the sport in America, it was considered 'The' thing to own and drive a trotter. Pacers, while accepted, were looked down upon by the 'Gentry' who would not have one in their barn. However, in the late 1880s this began to change, as the pacer proved it could fit it with the trotter, and even go faster.
When Star Pointer became the first standardbred to break 2:00 for the mile when he recorded 1:59¼ at Readville, Massachusetts, in 1897, it set the seal on the pacer's dominance over the trotter. It was not until 1903, on the same course, that Lou Dillon was to finally equal the 2:00 mark trotting, and later that year at Memphis, Tennessee, reduce her record again. Lou Dillon's 1:58½ restored the trotter to it's former glory, be it only briefly, but the writing was on the wall and never again was the trotter to prove as fast as the pacer.
Though he was not hailed so at the time, the man largely responsible for helping to establish the ascendancy of the pacer over the trotter was an Indianna railroad man, John Browning. Browning, like many in that stronghold of harness racing, Indianna, dabbled with a horse or two. But when landed with a pacer who kept going off-stride, Browning did not throw up his hands and get rid of the horse like the others of his time, he set out to rectify the problem.
It took Browning some time to come up with the answer, a set of leg harness which kept the errant equine on stride. A few other horsemen, plagued with the same problem as Browning, tried out his idea, and found it worked. But to the established trainers of the day like Pop Geers and Lon McDonald, the hopples were poison, and these men led the movement which finally led to the banning of hopples. But like most bans against progress, this one did not work, and trainers with problem horses just kept on using them.
The horse to dispel much of the prejudice against the hopples was an Iowa stallion, Strathberry, who took a record of 2:04½ wearing the 'Indianna Pants' as they were then known. Strathberry broke several records on mile and half-mile tracks in 1895. That same year, a pacer by the name of Frank Bogash came out of Iowa to race on the Grand Curcuit, and when he lowered his mark to 2:03¾, the 'Pants' were on their way.
Prince Albert became the first pacer to break 2:00 wearing 'Pants' when he broke the mark in 1902, and from then on, it became common place to see the hopples on most pacers racing throughout the country. The mighty Dan Patch, who set the world record of 1:59 in 1903 and by 1905 had reduced it to 1:55¼, was one of the exceptions. He paced free-legged, and it is rather unusual that Billy Direct, who in 1938 reduced Dan Patch's record to 1:55 at Lexington, Kentucky, did so without hopples.
Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 13Dec77