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MESCELLANY

 

YEAR: 1979

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

 

YEAR: 1977

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 1:59 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 1:58 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 2:04 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 2:03, 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 1:55, 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

 

YEAR: 1969

FIRST TROTTING BROADCAST ON FRIDAY

A 15 minute programme on trotting will be broadcast from 3ZB starting this Friday at 8.45pm. This new innovation is sponsored by Addington Raceway, and will be conducted by Ron Finlay.

The programme which is entitled "Hoof Beats and Harness," will consist of interviews, reminders, flashbacks, news items and the history of clubs and trotting in Canterbury. The programme will cater mainly for clubs between Cheviot in the north and Kurow in the south. Clubs that fall in this domain are invited to submit news items and any other important topics that may be of interest on the programme.

This latest invention by Addington Raceway should prove to be of immense benefit for trainers, owners and officials involved in trotting. It will also provide the general public, trotting followers and avid radio listeners with the most up to date information including previews for meetings throughout the country on the Saturday.

Undoubtedly this scheme will not only be to the advantage of clubs within Canterbury, but it should stimulate interest of a more extensive scale in trotting throughout the Dominion.

Credit: M W Grainger writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 30Jul69

 

YEAR: 1967

ANZAC DAY GALA

The success of the Anzac Day Gala at Addington on Tuesday was outstanding and exceeded all early expectations.

A crowd of more than 12,000 people including 8100 paying adults converged on the Raceway which proved in no uncertain terms that people were kindly disposed towards the innovation.

The equalisator turnover was 10,000, and from the sale of racebooks, and an expected donation from the Christchurch Trotting Club, the gross profit from the day will be more than 2000. Of this 80% will go to the Returned Services' Association Sandilands Home for War Veterans and the remainder to other charities.

The gala day was conducted by the Canterbury Owners and Breeders Association in conjunction with the Loins Club of Christchurch and the Returned Services' Association, under the jurisdiction of the Christchurch Trotting Club.

Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 26Apr67

 

YEAR: 1964

EARLY SULKY DEVELOPMENTS

Recently the writer paid a visit to Bryant & Co's workshop in Dalgaty Street, Christchurch, in search of information on early sulkies. The above firm is now carried on by Mr W B(Bill) Cooper, and his son Russell.

Mr Cooper was unable to clear up the question as to who used the first real sulky in a race, but old records of the firm, dating back to 1890, show who were the first men to use the first sulkies manufactured by Bryant & Co. In 1890 the firm built the first high-wheeled sulky used in Christchurch. This vehicle had four-foot diameter wheels with solid iron tyres. A similar cart, of the same design, but with heavier wheels, was used for racing by Mr H('Soda Water') Mace in 1890. A Mr H Reece also used the same type of cart. In 1892 Mr J G Grigg, of Longbeach, purchased a high-wheel sulky. He bred many trotters from the imported mare Jeanie Tracey. A Mr Lascelles and a Mr McLean, of Hawkes Bay, were also the owners of this build of sulky about the same time as the Longbeach owner.

The first pneumatic tyred sulky built by Bryant & Co appeared in 1893, and it was owned by a Mr Jack McGregor. This cart was somewhat similar in design to the ones used today, the main difference being that the seat was set much higher. The hubs for this sulky were imported from America, and the wheel was built around the hub. The spokes and rim were made of wood, and the pnuematic tyre - tubeless - was bolted onto the rim. In 1894, Bert Edwards purchased one of these Sulkies from Bryant & Co, and no doubt he used it for racing, as also did M(Manny) Edwards who ordered on the same year.
A horse called General Tracey, who set a three miles record of 8min 15 1/2 secs back in the 1890s, pulled a sulky of this type.

These are only a few of the names of the earlier school of owners, trainers and breeders which appear in the records of the firm. Bryant & Co built carts of all types, and many of the high wheeled carts were only put to private use. However many of them were pulled by high-spirited trotters, and the owners were not averse to challenging one another in trials of speed on the roads.

During the 1920s - earlier and later - the wide, short-shafted American type of sulky made it's appearance, and all of these were not imported from America. Bryant & Co built a number of this design, but as fields increased in size, the wide sulky went out of favour. The last time the writer saw one on a racetrack was when the trotter When went against time at Rangiora just before her departure for America. The vehicles used almost universally in NZ today - for years past for that matter - are traditionally known as speed carts.

The firm of Bryant & Co was established in 1872, in Papanui Road, Christchurch: "fine carriages, dog carts, gigs, pagnal carts and racing sulkies" were among the special merchandise built by the 'old firm'. Records kept by Bryants from the eariest days embrace, over more than 70 years of production, such well known names as Bert Edwards, Manny Edwards, Jack McGregor, Andy Pringle, W J Doyle Snr, Geo Murfitt, A Kerr, H W Kitchingham, Alf Wilson, Free Holmes, Thos Roe, Dave Price, Ben Jarden, W J Morland, James Bryce, Tom Fox, Roy Berry, J J Kennerley, W J Tomkinson and D A Withers. There are legions more.

Credit: 'Irvington' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 29Apr64

 

YEAR: 1963

THE MILE RECORDS

This season the mile trotting record for NZ and Australia has been lowered to 2.02 4/5 by When; but the mile record for horses of both gaits has remained intact since Caduceus paced 1.57 3/5 against time at Addington in 1959. It does not apply with equal force today, but in early compilations of standardbred records for the two colonies, NZ and Australian pacers and trotters were thrown together from year to year.

In 1881-82, the late Mr Robert Wilkin, a wine and spirit merchant, established in Hereford Street, Christchurch, imported to his 'Holmwood' stables, Holmwood Road, Fendalton, two American stallions, Berlin and Vancleve. The latter he sent to Australia, to the stud of Andrew Towns, who then sold Vancleve to Mr John Arthur Buckland, a pioneer of the light-harness sport in Australia, and one whose activities had also an important bearing on the history of the sport in NZ. Berlin remained with Mr Wilkin to do stud duty, and one of the foals he produced Fraulein (from Woodburn Maid), was sold to Mr W Fraser Martin, of Sydney, who later passed her on to Mr Buckland.

Mr Buckland mated Vancleve with Fraulein for several successive seasons, but it was three years after their first mating that Vancleve, in an exhibition run at the Dubbo Show, in May, 1893, took a colonial mile record of 2.28, previously held by Mystery at 2.29. Another Melbourne-owned trotter, Osterley, by the famous Childe Harold, after whom Harold Park was named, lowered Vancleve's record to 2.25 in 1895.

Two years after that, Fritz, the product of the first mating of Vancleve and Fraulein created a sensation on the Moonee Valley mile track by trotting 2.14 4/5 from a flying start.

In November of the same year (1897) at the Plumpton Park Club's meeting in Christchurch, Mr A Sefton's Blackwood Abdallah gelding, Little Willie, romped home in the one mile Final Handicap to record 2.26 1/5; and according to 'Honesty' in the 'NZ Referee', this was "the fastest mile in harness from a standing start that has yet been accomplished in NZ." The mile record was already regarded as the hallmark of standardbred speed, and trials against time at this distance were frequent and popular attractions in NZ and Australia.

Around the turn of the century, Mr Buckland's Fritz became the undisputed light-harness champion of Australasia. He trotted his way to success after success before being brought by his owner to NZ, in company of eight other first-class Australian horses in 1898. On that trip he established himself as a great favourite with the Canterbury public by beating Monte Carlo (who was later to win the first NZ Cup) in a free-for-all at the Canterbury Trotting Club's meeting, held on the old Show Grounds track. On June 2, 1898 Fritz made three attempts at the Riccarton racecourse to lower his 2.14 2/5. At his first attempt he trotted 2.18 2/5, and at his next two attempts he equalled 2.14 4/5. The track was reported to be very slow. Returning to Australia, Fritz lowered his record to 2.14 on the Brighton course, Sydney.

At that time, the Californian-bred Ha Ha (2.22 from a flying start) was the fastest horse in NZ and next to Fritz's his record was the next best south of the line. Next to Fritz and Ha Ha in NZ came the imported Wildwood, who had recorded 2.24 2/5 in a match race against Prince Imperial. In his prime, Wildwood was timed to trot a half-mile in 1.06 2/5 on Mr H Mace's track at New Brighton.

In the summer of 1898-99, Fritz again visited NZ, and it was on this trip that, for a purse of 100 sovereigns, he made an attempt to lower 2.15 against time. A totalisator was opened on the result, 35 being invested. Fritz was entrusted with 27 10s, and '2.15' with 7 10s. Without being really extended at any part of the journey, he trotted around the Show Grounds track in 2.13 - a new record. The dividend was microscopic!

Fritz made further trips to the Dominion, his last being in 1903, when he was brought from semi- retirement, in a typical sporting gesture by Mr Buckland, to meet the young Christchurch pacer, Ribbonwood, who had by this time become the idol of trotting followers in the Dominion. Advancing years and a very hurried preparation were mainly responsible for Fritz going under to the late Mr Dave Price's 'little black demon', but Ribbonwood proved that his victory in three straight heats was no fluke when, on the third day of that February meeting in 1903, held on the five-furlong Addington course, he recorded a new record of 2.09 for a mile against time from a flying start. Ribbonwood was by Wildwood from Dolly, by Young Irvington out of a thoroughbred mare. At the end of his great career in NZ he went to Australia and made history as a sire.

His mile record stood for eight years, until 1911, when it was reduced to 2.08 3/5, in a trial against time at Addington, by one of his sons, 7-year-old King Cole. The chestnut King Cole was the NZ champion of his day. He was raced by Mr R O Duncan and trained by the late Newton Price. His record-breaking mile run was watched by 300-odd votaries of light-harness racing, who gave him a great ovation. He was from Kola Nut, by Rothschild from Kola, by Harold Childe, a son of Childe Harold. King Cole was later sold to Australia, where he ended his race career.

A year earlier, in 1910, the Canterbury-bred Dan Patch, at that time owned by Victoria, on a visit to the Dominion, set an Australasian grass track record of 2.09 2/5 at Auckland. Also in 1910, Revenue, a son of Rothschild, and Mr J Manson's great-producing mare Georgina, trotted a mile in saddle in 2.11 4/5 on the Forbury Park track to displace Fritz as holder of the Australasian trotting record. In May, 1912, at Forbury Park, an Ashburton-bred Rothschld mare, Mr R McDonnell's 5-year-old, Emmeline, made an attempt at Forbury Park against Revenue's track record. She paced her mile in 2.08 3/5, and in doing so equalled King Cole's Australasian record. A month earlier at Addington, Emmeline had won a major event in the race record time of 2.10 4/5.

About that time, another fine mare was making a name for herself. She was Mr W J Morland's Country Belle (Wildmoor-Bonnie Belle). In 1915 Country Belle was nearing the end of her racing career, but before announcing her farewell performance Mr Morland decided to make an attempt to lower the 2.08 3/5 held by King Cole and Emmeline. The trial took place on the Metropolitan's grounds at about 6.30 on the morning of Thursday, December 16, 1915. Driven by her owner, Country Belle had the assistance as pacemaker of the well-known hurdler, Kingsway, ridden by Free Holmes. She paced her first half in 62secs and, to the delight of her admirers, the full journey in 2.07 1/5.

This record was to stand to 1917, when the Australian-bred Directway mare, Adelaide Direct, paraded in an attempt against it, for a purse of 100 sovereigns, on the second day of the Auckland Club's summer meeting. With the late, M Edwards behind her, she covered her first half in 64secs, and flashed home in 2.06 2/5 - a truly brilliant performance at that time.

In September, 1918, Mr A Fleming's speedy 8-year-old, Our Thorpe, whose career had been interrupted by mishaps, attacked Adelaide Direct's record at Addington. Driven by his owner-trainer, the Cheviot-bred OYM stallion clipped 1/5sec off the previous record; and he was to hold the honour for nearly five years.

It lasted until April 14, 1923, when, on the New Brighton Club's grass track, Happy Voyage, an Australian-bred Direct Voyage entire who had won his way almost to enforced retirement in the Dominion, was piloted over a mile against time in 2.04 1/5 by owner-trainer W J Tomkinson. This constituted a world record for a grass track. Later that year Happy Voyage equalled that time on the six-furlong Auckland track.

November 13 of the following year was the date of one of the most memorable mile contests in the Dominion's history. Five champions stepped out for the free-for-all on the second day of the Cup meeting at Addington. J J Kennerley paraded Logan Chief and Acron, W J Tomkinson Realm, J Messervy Onyx and J Bryce Taraire. In spite of the flying start, Taraire broke and was pulled up by Bryce. Realm made the pace to the half-mile in 60 3/5, and it was then obvious a new record was in the making. Logan Chief reached the lead at the tanks, with Acron alongside him and Realm dropping back to trail. Acron had Lagan Chief's measure at the furlong, but then Realm came at Acron to run the late Sir John McKenzie's champion to a neck. Acron's time - 2.03 3/5. By Logan Pointer from Millie C, who was a daughter of Wildmoor from a mare by Ha Ha, Acron was purchased by J R McKenzie for 2000gns after winning at his initial attempt. He was extremely temperamental, but when in the right mood there was no saying how fast he would go.

Acron's record was to stand for 10 years, but some very creditable miles were paced and trotted in the interim. The year 1925 saw Acron pace 2.04 3/5, Great Bingen 2.04 4/5, and the Australian Machine Brick 2.05 3/5, all at Addington. In 1928, Native Chief paced 2.04 1/5 to beat Great Bingen in a match race at Addington; and in May, 1930, Todd Lonzia marked his introduction to the public at Forbury Park by trotting eight furlongs in the Australasian 2-year-old record of 2.22 2/5. On the Forbury Park track in 1932, Todd Lonzia lowered Revenue's 22-year-old record of 2.11 3/5 by 3/5sec. This was reduced soon after by Olive Nelson, who trotted 2.11 at Westport. In the following year Todd Lonzia was again sent against time at Addington, and registered 2.09. However, he broke several times and it was not a good exhibition upon which to hang a record. Todd Lonzia was by the imported American horse, Lorene's Todd, from Daphne Dean, a daughter of Copa de Oro, sire in America of the successful importation, Rey de Oro.

The year of 1934 had an important bearing on the history of the mile record. This was the date of the visit from Australia of two champion pacers in Walla Walla and Auburn Lad. Walla Walla contested invitation match races against NZ's best at the Easter meeting of that year, winning the mile contest from Harold Logan in 2.04 1/5, a world race-winning record from a standing start. Walla Walla struck trouble in the second match race over a mile and a half, and finished out of a place.

On Tuesday, April 17, 1934, 2000 people gathered at Addington to watch Walla Walla, Auburn Lad and J S Shaw's brilliant NZ Trotting mare, Worthy Queen, race against the watches at a matinee meeting. Walla Walla was first to step out. A fairly stiff breeze was blowing, and after pacing his first half in 58 2/5, he tired considerably to record 2.03 4/5. He was suffering from a heavy cold. Worthy Queen (J S Shaw) then came out with Olax (galloped in sulky with Free Holmes) as pacemaker. At her first attempt she broke at the end of a furlong, but at her second try she never put a foot wrong. She trotted her first half in 60 4/5, and the full journey in the remarkable time of 2.03 3/5. Her record (against time) actually still stands to this day, because Dianthus Girl, 2.03 2/5, and When, 2.02 4/5, put up their times in special match races. Shortly before Worthy Queen's trial, Biddy Parrish had trotted a mile in 2.08 2/5 - a record which stood for but a few minutes.

Although not officially announced Auburn Lad next attacked the record. His pacemaker was no use to him, as he took charge of his driver, and was always about 100 yards in front. Driven by his owner, W McKay, Auburn Lad paced his first half in 60 2/5secs; but unlike Walla Walla, he did not tire so visibly in the final section. He time 2.02 2/5 was posted, and he became the fastest standardbred in Australasia.

Another champion had won his way up the ladder about this time. This was Mr G J Barton's Wrack stallion, Indianapolis. At the NZ Metropolitan Club's Royal meeting in 1935, without any special preparation, he paced an exhibition mile in 2.01 2/5, after covering his first mile in 61secs. Later in the day, he won the main sprint by six lengths. After winning his third NZ Cup in November, 1936, Indianapolis, in a trial against time, clipped a second from his fastest time, failing by 2/5sec to achieve the distinction of being the first 2.00 horse outside America. The same year he took a track record of 2.03 3/5 at Forbury Park against time.

The main mile of note in 1937 was the 2.04 recorded at Auckland by the Pedro Pronto gelding, Nervie's Last. The following year, Mr E Tatlow's Globe Derby horse Van Derby, paced a brilliant mile in the world grass track record time of 2.00 2/5 from a flying start at Auckland; but this grand effort took second place to a performance by his elder half-brother, Lawn Derby.

This was at Addington on Friday, November 11, 1938. Mr J F MacKenney's free-legged Australian champion paraded before a record crowd and, after being given a short warm-up by trainer-driver W J O'Shea, the Robert Derby horse raced past the mile post (with Golden Direct, in sulky driven by Mr Free Holmes, as a galloping pacemaker), and proceeded to 'burn up the clay'. He reached the half in 58 4/5, and stuck to his work in solid style right to the end. The posting of his 1.59 2/5 brought from the great crowd an appreciation befitting the momentous occasion. At last two minutes had been broken outside America; and Lawn Derby's time is still a free-legged record for this part of the world.

The year after, Lawn Derby recorded 2.04 4/5 in a race at the Auckland meeting, and 2.02 2/5 in an attempt aganst time on the six-furlong grass track at Claudelands. Also in 1939, Van Derby paced a mile against time at Epsom in 2.00 2/5. The best mile in 1940 was Lucky Jack's 2.01 1/5 against time at Addington, while in 1941 Gold Bar established a world record from a standing start when, ridden in saddle by M Holmes, he won the Clarkson Handicap from Mankind and Colonel Grattan in 2.03 3/5 on the second day of the Cup meeting. Nine months earlier, Smile Again had won in saddle over this distance at Addington in time only 2/5sec slower.

At Epsom in December, 1941, Josedale Grattan, the NZ Cup winner of that year, recorded 2.02 in a mile against time. A month later in a trial against time at Addington, Gold Bar became the second in the Southern Hemisphere to break 2.00, reeling off the distance in 1.59 3/5. Gold Bar was matched with R Grice's NZ Cup winner Haughty, in a special race at a patriotic meeting held at Addington on Match 27, 1943. B Grice's Nelson Derby-Regal Voyage mare (driven by O E Hooper) beat A Holmes's brilliant stallion (driven by Free Holmes) by two lengths, accomplishing a match-race record of 2.00 2/5. After missing out in her attempt to win her third NZ Cup the following year, Haughty was put against the watch on the second day of the November meeting, and recorded 1.59 3/5. She is still the only mare to have officially broken two minutes out side America.

In 1945 good judges sat up and blinked a little when a 2-year-old named Highland Fling recorded 2.10 for a mile, bettering by 4/5sec the Juvenile record, set at Timaru five years earlier by the young champion, Walter Moore. Highland Fling then became unruly and faded into obscurity for a time before being taken over by a master trainer in L F Berkett. Under Berkett he won his way into fortune and also into the hearts of all trotting enthusiasts over all distances and in all conditions.

And it was on May 1, 1948, that he was stepped out for what was to be the first of a series of phenominal performances against time. This was at Forbury Park where his mission was Indianapolis's track record of 2.03 3/5, established 12 years earlier. A strong southerly wind and a chilly atmosphere were obviously only minor difficulties, for the 'Fling' reeled of eight furlongs in 2.01, pacing his last half mile in 57. His victory, an hour earlier in the Otago Pacing Free-for-all, in which he covered his last mile in 2.03 3/5 had served as a convenient warm-up!

During the following season, Highland Fling made four more attempts against time over one mile. After winning his second NZ Cup in the world race-winning record time of 4.10 3/5 he delighted his admirers by lining up on the second day of the November meeting for a crack at Lawn Derby's long standing record of 1 59 2/5. The ease with which he equalled this record was remarkable. He appeared to be but coasting around, so deceptive was his smooth stride; and his appearance on his return to the birdcage gave the impression that he had not been extended. It was than announced that he would make another attempt to break the record on the third day of the meeting.

Berkett, unorthodox as always, dispensed with the usual strong work-out and galloping pacemaker, and Highland Fling streaked alone around the Addington track to record 1.57 4/5 and become the fastest standardbred outside America. The trainer-driver and Mr A T Kemble's champion were cheered to the echo. Six hours later he won the NZ Premier Sprint Championship in 2.37 2/5, after being left flat-footed at the start. The following January Highland Fling made another attempt against time at Forbury Park, and lowered his previous record for the track from 2.01 to 1.58 - only 1/5sec outside his Australasian record. It was another phenomenal effort. A fortnight later, at Hutt Park, Highland Fling paced his fourth two minute mile of the season, registering 2.00 flat to establish a world grass track record for the distance. The previous record was held by Van Derby, who recorded 2.00 2/5 at Epsom in 1938.

Highland Fling's performances that season overshadowed a very creditable performance by the Bill B gelding, Single Direct, who paced a mile against time at Claudelands. Also in February, 1949, Highland Kilt, a 2-year-old brother of Highland Fling in an attempt at Addington against Todd Lonzia's long-standing juvenile trotting record of 2.22 2/5, lowered those figures to 2.19 1/5, covering his last half in 68secs.

The year 1951 saw an attempt by the brilliant square-gaiter, Dictation, against Worthy Queen's 2.03 3/5. However, J Wilson's Josedale Dictator gelding, after trotting his fist half-mile brilliantly in 61secs, spoiled his display by tangling. He settled down again after losing valuable seconds and recorded only 2.07 2/5. The trial was at New Brighton. However, Dictation enjoyed his full share of other records.

Another sensation arrived on the scene in 1953, in the form of Brahman (Gold Bar, 1.59 3/5-Haughty, 1.59 3/5). He was paraded at Addington in June of that year in an attempt to lower Convivial's Australasian 2-year-old record of 2.08 4/5, established in Melbourne in 1951. Few before the attempt ever imagined that Brahman would do what he subsequently did - a mile in 2.02 1/5, after pacing the first half in 60 2/5. B Grice's mercurial juvenile raced at least one sulky-width out from the rail all the way and, although he did not nearly break the world record of 2.00 held then by Titan Hanover, USA, he amazed the critics.

In December of the 1953-54 season, Johnny Globe, the then idol of NZ enthuisiasts, added to his laurels a new world grass track record of 1.59 4/5 in an attempt against time at Epsom, a record which still stands. Other miles of note in 1953 were Burn's Night's 2.02 3/5 from a standing start to win the Au Revoir Free-for-all at the Easter meeting at Addington: Johnny Globe's improvement on this to 2.01 1/5 to win the Flying Sprint Free-for-all at the following Cup meeting; an exhibition mile by D G Nyhan's new champion in 2.00 1/5 at Kaikoura; and 6-year-old Highland Kilt's 2.04 3/5 in a trotting exhibition, also at Kaikoura.

In July of the same season J D Litten's Royal Mile (Fourth Brigade-Sure Romance), in a trial against time at Addington, lowered Highland Kilt's 2-year-old mile trotting record to 2.16 1/5. Later the same month a bay colt by Gold Change from Princess Yenot paced a mile against time at Epsom in 2.18 3/5 - an Australasian record for a yearling. This was sensationally lowered by Blue, who put up the world yearling record of 2.09 1/5 at Addington in 1957.

Perhaps the greatest mile race in Dominion harness history was that in which Tactician established the Australasian mile race record of 1.59 4/5. That was in 1957 at the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club's Easter meeting in the Flying Stakes. From a moving start Tactician (M C McTigue) won by a nose from Caduceus, who went 2.00 for second. Local Light was three-quarters of a length away third in 2.00 1/5, and Merval was fourth in 2.00 3/5. There have been other stirring mile contests in recent years, but none in which such speed was attained as in the Flying Stakes.

Highland Fling's 1.57 4/5 stood safely out of reach for 11 years until finally lowered by the narrowest of margins by his full brother-in-blood, Caduceus, who went 1.57 3/5 against time at Addington in 1959. And there the mile record remains. Royal Mile's 2-year-old record was lowered to 2.13 1/5 by Au Fait in 1957, and stands to this day. Dianthus Girl, in 1962, in a special trotters match race at Addington, won in 2.03 2/5, thus lowering Worthy Queen's 1934 time of 2.03 3/5 by a fraction. And this season When has reduced the mile trotting main to 2.02 4/5, also in a match race.

Credit: 'Ribbonwood' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 5Jun63

 

YEAR: 1962

CHRISTCHURCH TROTTING CLUB

A non-totalisator trotting club, to be known as the Christchurch Trotting Club, was formed at a meeting last week.

Application for registration will be made to the NZ Trotting Conference. The club will function in co-operation with the three Christchurch Trotting Clubs and the Canterbury Trotting Owners and Breeders Association.

The Club intends running an equalisator at matinee meetings and using the revenue to provide penalty-free races with stakes or trophies to a maximum value of 100. The rules of trotting were altered at the last annual meeting of the Conference to allow races with stakes of up to 100 to be penalty-free.

Several non-totalisator clubs in the Auckland district have already taken advantage in the change in the rules. The Club hopes to run several meetings each season with perhaps one during the off-season between the end of June and the middle of August.

Officers elected were:- President, Mr W E Desmond; Vice-President, Mr E T Hubbard; Honarary treasurer, Mr B J Wilks; Committee, Messrs M Andrews, A V le Roi, A Chinnery, H Rogers, C L Rhodes, F S Ball, A E Laing, E McDermott, L S Smart; Stewards, Messrs L Barnard, H B Kay, L J Eden, O J Watson, A McDonald, C E Hoy, R Kennedy, C E Watkins, L R Clark.



Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 19Sep62

 

YEAR: 1962

SULKYS: AMERICAN SPEED CART

It arrived in this country at the beginning of the 20th century as the next big thing. The driver sat right behind the horse's rump on a wide and short-shafted cart on bike wheels and they improved mile times by significant amounts like seconds for starters. But they were impractical for racing here because of their width especially on small tracks. Unruly or long striding racers could cause real problems and horses answering the call of nature could be embarrassing and uncomfortable for the driver!

The speed carts were soon confined to time trials and one was last seen when champion trotters When went against time in Christchurch in 1962. Forward driving seats remained popular however. Many believe a short rigged cart cost False Step and Cecil Devine the sensational 1961 inter Dominion Final. Even winning driver Doug Watts thought he had lost by half a length because of his long shafted cart and Devine was confident he had won in a much shorter one.

Credit: David McCarthy writing in Harnessed Dec 2015

 

YEAR: 1960

Gentles (J G Crofts) winning from Island Mist & Count Cavan
SADDLE RACES AT ADDINGTON

The saddle race to be run at the winter meeting of the Canterbury Park Trotting Club on Saturday, May 28, will be the first of its kind to be run on the course since September 28, 1946.

On that day the New Brighton Trotting Club raced there and included on the programme was the Seaview Handicap, a 2.17 class mile saddle which was won by Grattan Bells. Grattan Bells was trained by H J Smith and ridden by C Thornley.

-o0o-

'Irvington' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 1Jun60

The saddle race at Addington on Saturday created keen public interest; the race was run in two divisions and excellent sport was witnessed, the riders displaying a surprisingly high standard of horsemanship.

A large crowd thronged the birdcage fence to watch the horses parade and the riders mount, and the 'Scotsmen's Grandstand' - the back fence - was patronised almost as well as on NZ Trotting Cup day. The increased interest was reflected in the on-course totalisator turnover for the day, which amonted to 82,318 10s, a rise of 12,195 on last year. Off-course investors wagered 54,524 10s, which represented an increase of 7165 on last year's total.

Comments after the race were varied, but the 'fors' appeared to outnumber the 'againsts'. Some of the newly initiated went so far as to say it looked silly, but the majority commented most favourably and agreed it would add variety to light-harness programmes which may perhaps be in danger of becoming too stereotyped. And the warm approval carried by acclamation as each winner returned to the birdcage on Saturday would be heartening to Canterbury Park stewards.

Veteran horseman P P Gallagher, in the vicinity of 60 years, had the mount on Dark Signal. He later gave his unqualified approval of the reintroduction of saddle racing. Gallagher was one of the best 'knights of the pigskin' in the Dominion when saddle races were an integral part of the sport, and he is unquestionably thoroughly seasoned and well qualified to judge the success or otherwise of the experiment - for such it was generally regarded on Saturday. The Murfitt family, represented in Saturday's race by F Murfitt on Alison's Pride, produced many good saddle winners in the past, and others who rode their share of winners in this department were G A Collison, J A Carmichael, T C Nyhan and C A Thornley, who all had mounts on Saturday.

In the vintage years of the weight-carrier, many good horses, including NZ Cup candidates, raced and were successful in saddle, and what better medium is there for the education of young horsemen, and many horses too, for that matter?

Gentles' smooth and decisive win in the first division was perhaps due in no small measure that he was from the south, where the odd saddle race is still to be found. Lucky Dora, who won the second division, gave some trouble at the start but soon became balanced to win comfortably after being well ridden by her owner, R J Jones.

Few would quibble over the distance of Saturday's contests - a mile and a quarter. However, there is little doubt that a mile is the ideal distance for a saddle race; but it is also appreciated that the turning start at the mile post at Addington is a distinct disadvantage, hence the Club's wise precaution in ensuring a straight run from the mile and a quarter starting post on Saturday. Perhaps Addington Trotting Course Ltd, if saddle racing becomes firmly re-established, might view favourably the suggestion af constructing a chute at the top of the track, thus providing a straight run from the start; and this could also be advantageous for mile harness races, particularly flying miles, another 'variety' contest that claims considerable merit.

A steward of ther Greymouth Trotting Club stated on Saturday that the saddle race at his club's recent centennial meeting was the second best betting race on the programme. It was also a great sporting success. After all, saddle racing has been resumed without much warning - it could scarcely have been otherwise - and with so little time available for practice or adjustment, it says a lot for trainers, horsemen and horses that the race on Saturday was such a signal success.

If saddle races have come to stay - and we sincerely hope they have - rapid improvement can be expected in all phases of this fascinating variant of the people's pastime; and the people themselves have already demonstrated only too clearly that it may be a long time before their curiosity in the nimble pacers with the weight on top is in any danger of diminishing.

To the clubs which have been courageous enough to 'give it a go,' the Greymouth Trotting Club and Canterbury Park Trotting Club, the sport as a whole should eventually be indebted.

Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 20Apr60

 

YEAR: 1957

TRIPLE DEAD-HEAT

After an exasperating series of experiences in the last two years when bad weather almost ruined three days racing, the Westport Trotting Club achieved sudden and sensational fame right at the close of its meeting last week, which was postponed fron Thursday to Friday, 27th December, when three horses crossed the line together in the President's Handicap to proved the first triple deat-heat in NZ trotting history. The horses who could not be separated were the bracketed pair Night Owl (G Cameron) and Wimpy (J H Butterick), and Keff (M C Flaws).

With Glengallan, the trotter, they sorted themselves out about 60 yards from home. Glengallan only weakened to fourth in the last few strides to finish half a length away. It was anyone's pick when the other three returned to the birdcage, and it was some time before the judgw (Mr J P McEnaney) could give the clearance for his assistant (Mr P Colvin) to frame the top numbers.

When No.9 (Keff) appeared first in the frame there was a loud cheer from her supporters, and G Cameron, the driver of Night Owl, went to drive away only to see the two numbers 2 inserted in the frame. All three drivers were uncertain of the result. Cameron was not optimistic about his own chances. Flaws felt that he had been beaten by Night Owl, and Butterick thought that Wimpy had broken on the line and lost the advantage. The camera cleared up all other augument.

The result proved a windfall for the Westport Club, as Photo Finishes of Australia Ltd, the firm operating the camera, has offered 1000 to the first club in NZ which staged a triple dead-heat. The operator of the camera received a bonus of 20 from the firm.

Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 1Jan58

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