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COURAGE UNDER FIRE
One of New Zealand's most popular ever pacers Courage Under Fire has passed away with a record that may never be matched. The tiny pacing hero turned stallion died in Australia yesterday where he was standing at Yirribee Stud in New South Wales. He would have turned 22 on Tuesday.
While he was a very commercial stallion who sired recently-retired Inter Dominion champion Smolda, it was as the Mighty Mouse of pacing that Courage Under Fire will be best remembered. He won his first 24 starts, being unbeaten at two and three, that classic season including a record six Derby victories.
It is doubtful any galloper would ever have contested six Derbys and very few harness horses probably have either, let alone winning them all. So this rarest of places in racing history would seem to be Courage Under Fire's alone forever.
The Derbys were part of a 41-win career from 56 starts that saw him amass $1,551,941 in stakes after starting his career in New Zealand with Bruce Negus and then being transferred to champion NSW trainer Brian Hancock after a sensational failure in the 2000Inter Dominion in Melbourne. Courage Under Fire suffered his first defeat in a heat of that series, prompting Moonee Valley commentator Dan Milecki to yell "the world must be ending' as Kyema Kid surged past Courage Under Fire.
While the world survived, Courage Under Fire's career plateaued by his earlier standards and he was never as dominant as an older horse, winning a series of good races but never one of the great ones. He was narrowly beaten in both the Miracle Mile and Victoria Cup and fourth in an Inter Dominion Final but picked up Grand Circuit races like the South Australia Cup, Queensland Pacing Champs and Australian Pacing Champs.
He came back to the pack because while he was a pacing machine at three he never got much stronger or faster, forever looking a fast teenager racing grown men. But as a three-year-old he captured the racing - and some non-racing - public's imagination in a golden era that also saw Christian Cullen and Lyell Creek draw huge fan bases. The other two were better older horses, albeit all too briefly in Christian Cullen's case , but Courage Under Fire's size endeared him to race fans, his little legs whirling like a cartoon character when he was at full speed.
Off the track he was a little softy. "He loved people and was the lovliest little horse to have around," says original trainer Negus. "He had so many fans and when little kids came up to him to pat him, which happened all the time, he would lower his head down so they could get to him. Once, when Brian Hancock was training him, they couldn't find Brian's six-year-old granddaughter and they were all panicking. They couldn't believe it when they found her in Courage's paddock and she was patting him as he nuzzled her. This was when he was a seven-year-old stallion, he was just such a gentleman"
So did training a racing icon change Negus's career or even life? "If definitely helped my career because we had a lot of good horses, many for his owner Greg Brodie after Courage left the stables. But it also changed my life. I met so many people and was once asked to speak at a racing awards dinner because I was the guy who trained Courage Under Fire. I met my wife Colleen at that function, so I owe Courage more than he would ever have known."
Standing at only a tick over 14 hands, the little stallion certainly had a huge heart and left a lasting impact on the Australasian breeding industry where few colonial stallions have been able too.
Upon retirement he was the sire of 434 NZ Bred winners, he was also the sire of-
*7 NZ Group One winners: Secret Potion, Lancôme, Smolda & Pembrook Benny.
*16 NZ Group Two Winners
*14 Group Three Winners
*6 NZ Listed Winners
His legacy will now be in those of his daughters who are already breeding on his guts and determination, with the outstanding mare Arms of an Angel being out of a daughter of Courage.
Credit: Michael Guerin writing in Breeding Matters July 2017
CHRISTIAN CULLEN - Champion Racehorse & Sire
As a racehorse, he was incomparable. Pure elegance and power wrapped up in an eguine machine. Simply the best.
But when Christian Cullen's career is remembered in 30,50 or even 100 years it's hard not to imagine that it will be the indelible mark he left on the breeding scene of New Zealand that will be most freely recalled.
Like some of the best to have graced studs around the country, Christian Cullen has been a trailblazer. He came at a time when harness racing needed a pin up, a commercial stallion who could mix it with the flashy lads being brought in from America - a true blue Kiwi to keep things kicking.
Lordship left his mark, Sundon left his but Cullen was a whole new ball game. A bucking of the trend if you like. He became the most sought after stallion in the country and further afield, his progeny fetching big prices at yearling sales, his service fee skyrocketing to almost unheard of prices and his demand growing by the month. Cullen was a revolutionary on the New Zealand breeding scene. For 14 years he's been on, or at least near to, the top of the pile when it comes to stallions down under.
And Ian Dobson has enjoyed every minute of it. As far as owners go, Dobson could be best described as a run-of-the-mill owner before Cullen came along. He had enjoyed moderate success. Raced the odd horse but nothing that would compare with what lay ahead. One day and one nod in the direction of a striking colt changed Dodson's life. Paul Bielby was the person who pointed Dobson in the direction of Cullen. They say that the real good horses have a presence about them. They hold themselves in a way that can be different to any other horse. And Cullen did exactly that. Dobson purchased the horse on the spot. Gave a share to his trainer at the time, Brian O'Meara and the rest, from a racing perspective, as they say, is history.
Once his racing days were over, Cullen's impact as a stallion was almost immediate. Dobson initially knew nothing about the breeding side of the business but he was constantly informed that the only logical option was to stand the horse at stud. After buying O'Meara out of his share for a six-figure sum. Initially he began breeding while still racing, with semen collected from the property of O'Meara. Standing for $6,000, a high price at the time for a first season stallion, Cullen struck a snag when nothing he was bred to in the North Island got in foal, resulting in just 46 covers in his maiden season.
From that crop however, the success was incredible. He left Born Again Christian 1:51.2($133,130), Likmesiah ($427,965), Roman Gladiator($318,022), V For($208,777), Chris Riley($306,732), Conte De Christo($246,703), Dudinka's Star($106,580) and C C Mee($101,949). Almost every one had the Cullen "look" about them. That same presence he himself held as a young horse. An enticing possibility for trainers and for breeders.
It was arguably his second crop that produced the best results though. From it came New Zealand Cup winning mare, Mainland Banner. Purchased for $9,000 by retired Ashburton farmer Ian Sowden, her ability was recognised early on as she made a big impression around Mid Canterbury at workouts and trials. The similarities between her and her sire were remarkable - something that later moved legendary race caller, Reon Murtha to describe her as "Christian Cullen in a skirt."
Dobson was obviously enraptured by the then filly as well. So much so he went and forked out a six-figure sum to purchase her unqualified through the advice of his then trainer, Robert Dunn. She would go on to win 17 of her 21 career starts, including the New Zealand Trotting Cup - earning close to $700,000 in the process and is now a successful broodmare having left five winners from five foals to the track including Harness Jewels winning mare, Rocker Band.
Others to arrive from Cullen's second crop included; King Cat Anvil($918,191), Molly Darling($575,150), Mighty Cullen($574,945), Classic Cullen($451,660) and Whambam($407,299). That particular crop saw 108 foals with 58 winners - by far not his best in terms of foals to winners but it did produce some of his most prolific sons and daughters.
Cullen's third crop was modest. He left 34 winners from 59 foals, Pay Me Christian - an incredibly fast son, was the best of them.
Then came a very strong crop where 136 foals produced 72 winners with Gotta Go Cullen($1,173,343), Chausettes Blanche($329,250), Cullens Blue Jean($289,056), Fergiemack($230,653), Spicey($162,014) and Charles Bronson($127,255) at the top of the pile for stake earnings. Dobson was back in the action again too, purchasing Gotta Go Cullen - realising the strapping colt had stallion potential.
Jewels winners; Kiwi Ingenuity, Lizzie Maguire and Ohoka Arizona came the following year and in the same year he went to the next level when it came to his progeny at the yearling sales. At the 2008 PGG Wrightson Australasian Classic Yearling Sales at Karaka, Christian Cullen's yearlings averaged a stunning $89,000(24 yearlings). With 9 $100,000 plus yearlings being sold, Cullen was the sire of 8 0f the 9, including the two $200,000 plus sale toppers. At the Christchurch Premier sale, his 34 yearlings averaged just shy of $64,000, with Cullen setting a modern day record for a yearling colt with the sale of Tuapeka Mariner for $250,000. In the two premier yearling sales combined, Christian Cullen sired an unprecedented three $200,000 plus yearlings, 10 $100,000 plus yearlings and 20 $50,000 plus yearlings. In Melbourne, Christian Cullen also topped the APG Yearling Sale with a $100,000 colt.
Those results, coupled with some serious interest from further abroad, saw whispers around Cullen heading to America to stand for a season and Dodson was inundated with requests from breeders from the other side of the world. Prospective clients came down to see Cullen and Dobson in the flesh and also spent a fair amount of time inspecting some of his progeny. They were concerned about the declining gene pool and Christian Cullen was even a well known name in North America. Eventually Ian went to America and hosted a number of top breeders and at the end of the evening had approximately 80 mares booked, however after all the arrangements were made and the stallion sent to America, there was the worldwide financial crash and as a result only about 20 mares ended up getting served. He stood for US$10,000 in that season and although he only produced 26 live foals, 17 of them were winners and his mark is still prominent in America with a large number of Kiwi pacers sold there and performing well.
All Tiger 1:49.1s(401,238), Royal Cee Cee 1:49.3f ($996,432), Mighty Cullen 1:50.2($574,945), Classic Cullen 1:50.4, King Kat Anvil 1:52.4h ($918,191) and Lightning Raider 1:52.4($403,559) have all performed with distinction in the States and Cullen's most prolific son of recent years, Christen Me is headed there as well now.
Back home, Cullen's sixth crop produced the outstanding Stunin Cullen who was a winner of the Sires' Stakes Final as a three-year-old and won close to $1.5 million during his career. Also from that year came Group One winners, Lauraella and Rona Lorraine.
His seven-year-old crop produced 145 foals for 86 winners headed by Franco Emirate($326,830), Royal Cee Cee($996,432), Meredith Maguire($226,167) and Gotta Go Harmony($205,909) before Easy On The Eye($315,650), Statesman($306,632), Hands Christian($263,930), The Muskeg Express($111,331) and Ohoka Texas($174,342) came the next year.
Christen Me hailed from Cullen's next crop alongside Franco Nelson - both multiple Group One winners before Lacharburn, Libertybelle Midfre and All Black Stride came the following year.
What is obvious from these listed horses is Cullen's ability to leave a good horse each year. And while the numbers might have dwindled in recent times, there has been no shortage of good ones still stepping out onto the track as well as those from daughters of the super sire.
Three times he was named Harness Racing New Zealand's Stallion of the Year and on three occasions it took the might of Sundon to lower him from the title. From just over 20,000 starters in 10 seasons at stud, Cullen has produced more than 2,500 winners in New Zealand with his Australian statistics just as good. Stake earnings, from just New Zealand, sit at over $33 million while world-wide they would at least double that.
After the humble breeding beginnings at O'Meara's property, Christian Cullen found his niche at Wai Eyre Farm where Dobson's unforgettable lime green colours made the Cullen brand recognisable on the worldwide stage. In 2013, when Cullen's fertility issues really began to raise their head, Dobson moved Cullen to Nevele R Stud in an effort to rejuvenate the stallion's career. Then in the 2015 and 2016 season Cullen was shifted to Dancingonmoonlight Farm in North Canterbury.
The move came for two reasons, one more final effort to try and raise fertility levels and also to find a place where he would likely retire. Under the watchful eye of Farm Manager Trent Yesberg, Cullen has been given every opportunity. To put the issues Cullen has been facing in layman's terms, Cullen's sperm do not swim in a straight line which makes it very hard for them to make their way to the required destination. All number of tests and ideas have been undertaken but at 22 it would appear as though the body is finally saying enough.
So early this year, after a long amount of time spent thinking and deliberating, Dobson decided to call time on the stallion career of the horse who made him one of the most well-known men in harness racing. A horse who took him all over the world, gave him so many thrills and a couple of heartbreaks too.
Fitting of the champion status he has so rightly earned through, Cullen will enjoy retirement with all the modern luxuries. He's got a big paddock at Dancingonmoonlight and is rugged and fed each day as well as regular farrier work. Two-time New Zealand Trotting Cup winning, Monkey King is there to keep him company from the safety of the other side of the fence and there's still a plethora of people who drive into the property and one of the first questions they ask, whether they are harness racing inclined or not, is whether or not they can grab a picture, or have a look, at Christian Cullen.
And considering it has been 17 years since he last raced, it would seem the pulling power of one of harness racing's greatest champions, as a racehorse and as a stallion, is still just as strong as ever.
Credit: Matt Markham writing in Harnessed Apr 2017
COURVY KAZI - Mystery Mare
With all due respect to those dedicated Aussie breeders who produce the odd real marvel from unlikely sourses how do we explain Flashing Red? Well, let me tell you, not by pedigree.
He was the only named foal from several offspring of dam Courvy Kazi. She was by Golden Medoro, a New Zealand bred stallion, who left 114 foals, 28 of who won about $12,000. The next stallion in the pedigree was another Kiwi, Master Scott, who left only 25 foals, two of whom started(both won).
Flashing Red's Australian history is quite complicated but his sire Echelon is the story of the pedigree. Flashing Red was the only live foal left by that old style hard-hitting 1:50.6 American racehorse from Courvy Kazi. By Troublemaker from a Race Time mare, Echelon left 107 winners in Australia, a good strike rate. They won over $5m but of course Flashing Red won nearly half of that.
Flashing Red, so dominant after Tim Butt and Phil Anderson assumed command, was a marvel, winning two NZ Cups(one a surprise to us all but evidence of his thoughness) and an Auckland Cup, ending up Aged Pacer of the Year. Not many Aussies have done that.
Credit: David McCarthy writing in Harnessed June 2016
PRIDE OF LINCOLN - Mystery Mare
She is the 'mother of the trotting nation' the greatest broodmare of our industry. That is why when Wrightsons numbered the breeding families hers was made No 1. From Lincoln Yet(sire of the first Cup winner Monte Carlo) and stonewall Jackson in the 1890s to Christian Cullen in the 1990s arguably our latest true pacing superstar her descendants have produced champions in every era. Even now when her tribe numbers seem to have decreased alarmingly she can still claim Take A Moment alongside Cullen to show how the family just goes on at both gaits.
Her daughter, Thelma, whose memory is still commemorated by the Akaroa Trotting Club(thanks to the late Steve Edge) was even more successful than her own dam but because of better opportunities with trotting stallions. But Pride of Lincoln, who was owned by John Tod of Lincoln(of course), was where it all began.
Yet nothing is known about her dam, Sally. Arguments raged for years among the breeding experts about what breed of horse of horse Sally actually was. She was listed in the Stud Book as 'supposed to be a thoroughbred' and with (AUS) in brackets after her name. In the early days all trotters had thoroughbred blood close up. But later on when Pride of Lincoln and Thelma became so successful, some revision seemed to creep in and there were attempts to show Sally had trotting blood. You know how it goes.
Pride of Lincoln was a big strong mare too heavy to race and whose appearance was not always praised when she made occasional show appearances with a foal at foot. The only genuine clue about Sally is that when one of the tribe was advertised as a stallion in the 1890s it was claimed that Sally was imported by Robert Wilkin, the man who some time later landed the first Standardbreds in Canterbury.
The real answer to the Sally question was that it didn't matter. The truth probably lies with Doctor's Maid a thoroughbred foal of 1867 and the dam of Touchstone, the sire of Pride of Lincoln. Doctor's Maid left other foals who adapted well to trotting and so did the stock of Touchstone. Many years later some enthusiast got hold of Doctor's Maid's last filly foal and bred her to a pacing stallion as a very old mare. A filly resulted and her granddaughter produced the high class Auckland pacer of the 1950s in Laureldale. Blood endures.
Credit: David McCarthy writing in Harnessed June 2016
The brilliant American-bred squaregaiter who went on to revolutionise the breeding of trotters in Australasia was both 'behind and ahead' of his time according to his trainer/driver Fred Fletcher.
Sundon, who was originally known as Sondon in the USA, immigrated to New Zealand as a yearling. "When we got Sundon he was giving his fellow trotters a six-month head start simply because of his American time breeding. That didn't stop him though because he won all 11 of his starts as a two-year-old. His first win was in January 1988. That's quite amazing considering he was only foaled in the USA in March 1986. I can't speak highly enough of him, I've worked some great horses in my time, including Roydon Glen who was also Horse-of-the-Year (1984), but I think this fellow is my sentimental favourite - simply because of what he achieved both on and off the track," 76-year-old Fletcher said.
Bred and owned by the late Sir Roy McKenzie, Sundon was inspected in New Zealand in December 1987. "I couldn't believe how much natural ability he had. He was a good sized horse who had a beautiful gait and was very quick with it. His high speed proved too much for his opposition.
"He's been a big part of Roydon Lodge (Weedons) over the years and it's very appropriate that he is buried there," Fletcher said. Fletcher stated that he was sad when he heard that Sundon had died but it was to be expected. "He was twenty nine and at that age you always have to expect it with horses, whether they are well or not. Sadly he was euthanized (April 28) because he was beginning to lose his battle with arthritis and laminitis. It was the only thing they could do. He was such a great horse, miles and miles ahead of his time," Fletcher said.
Keith Gibson, the Managing Director of Roydon Lodge Stud Limited, who owned Sundon, said it was a tough decision to put Sundon down. "It was always going to be a hard decision but it was made easier when he was in pain. He was still alert in himself but he was getting to the point where we could not manage his pain and we were always going to be kind to him," Gibson said.
Fletcher trained him during his racing career which spanned from January 1988 to September 1992. Eleven of his twenty seven victories were in partnership with Mark Smolenski, and his winning drivers were Fred Fletcher(18), Peter Jones(8) and Mike De Filippi(1). Silly question but when asked what was Sundon's most memorable win, Fletcher replied. "There were so many. You could list almost every Group One race but the one that stands out for me was at Alexandra Park when he was a three-year-old. It was a 2200m race and when the mobile released it couldn't get away from Sundon. He was so well gaited and had such high speed and momentum he could even keep up with the mobile car. That was amazing. Then he went his opening half in 56 and just kept on going at that speed for the entire race coming home in 57 and change. He later went 1:56 as a three-year-old. That was and still is sensational," Fletcher said.
He said Sundon was so relaxed that when he used to take him to the races he would fall asleep in his stall. "People couldn't believe it when they saw him dozing. Then the moment you put a cart on him he grew another hand. What he did still blows me away. The closest I have got to him in trotting terms would be Royal Aspirations when he was young," said Fletcher.
"He was such a lovely horse to do anything with. Everyone knew about his tremendous nature and I'm just so pleased his memory and family will live on for many a day yet," he added. The Arndon son of the BF Coaltown mare, Sungait Song (dam also of A Touch of Son, Arnsong, Simone Roydon, Sunning & Sunsong) Sundon was inducted into the Addington Harness Hall of Fame in 2014. Arndon was a world record holder setting a T1:54.0TT mile at The Red Mile, Lexington, Kentucky in 1982.
SUNDON'S RACING RECORD includes:-
A Group One feature - Dominion Handicap; Group Two's - NZ Trotting Stakes at 2, Rosso Antico Stakes at 3(now Gp1 GN Trotting Derby), Canterbury Park Trotting Cup; Group Three's - Cambridge Trotting Stakes at 3, Three InterDominion Heats, NZ Trotting Championship(now Gp1) and other significant victories included Hambletonian at 3, Banks Peninsula Trotting Cup, Ashburton Trotters Mile(all now Group Three races).
Racing on 60 occasions solely in NZ, Sundon's record showed 60: 20 - 5 - 3, $264,085; T2:01.1. At Addington specifically, he started on 37 occasions for a record of 13 wins and 6 placings included among the 13 Addington victories were 1 Group 1, 3 Group 2s and 4 Group 3s. At one stage Sundon had an unbeaten win sequence of 14(a record for pacer or trotter) until beaten by Courage Under Fire(pacer) and the trotter Lyell Creek(20 successive wins). He was NZ 2YO, NZ 3YO, Aged and Overall Trotter of the year in 1988,1989 and 1991v respectively.
SUNDON'S SIRING RECORD reads:-
. Twice champion New Zealand Sire(Pacers and Trotters) for stakes: 2005 and 2007.
. Fourteen times champion New Zealand trotting sire(stakes and winners: 2001-2014.
. Twelve times leading Australian trotting sire(stakes): 2003-2014.
. Eleven times leading Australian trotting sire (winners): 2004-2014.
. Four times leading New Zealand trotting broodmare sire(stakes and winners): 2011-2014.
. Four times leading Australian trotting broodmare sire (stakes and winners): 2011-2014.
. Sire of 4 Harness Jewels winners(10 as broodmare sire)
. Numerous Group One winners, age group winners.
SUNDON'S PRINCIPAL TOP LEVEL PERFORMERS with emphasis on NZ include:-
ALLEGRO AGITATO(NZ Trotting Chamionship(twice) and NZ Free-For-All, Australasian Trotting Grand Prix, National Trot); DELFT(National Trot, InterDominion 4 heats & Final, Dullard Cup); DEPENDABLE(NZ Trotting Stakes, Rosso Antico Stakes); ESCAPEE(Great Northern & NZ Trotting Derbies); GALLEONS PARADISE(VIC Trotters Derby & Oaks); GALLEONS SUNSET(Bill Collins Mile, InetrDominion Final); HOUDINI STAR(GN & VIC Trotters Derbies, National Trot); HURRICANE FLYER(GN Derby); I DIDN'T DO IT(VIS Sires Stakes at 4, Grand Prix, Bill Collins Mile, Dullard Cup); IMA GOLD DIGGER(GN & NZ Trotters Derbies, NZ Trotting FFA); IRISH WHISPER(National Trot);JASMYN'S GIFT(NZ Trotting FFA & NZ Championship); KAHDON(GN Trotters Derby, VIC Trotters Oaks); LAST SUNSET(NZ Trotting FFA); MARTINA H(Rowe Cup, Dominion Handicap, Dullard Cup); Master Lavros(Dominion Handicap, Rowe Cup, NZ Trotting Champs); ONE OVER KENNY(Millionaire, GN Trotters Derby, Australasian Trotting Championship, Rowe Cup (Twice), NZ Trotting Championship, National Trot (Twice)); OUR SUNNY WHIZ(Rowe Cup); POMPALLIER(Dominion Handicap, NZ Trotting Championship); SHIRLEY TEMPLE(NZ Trotters Derby); SPECULATE(NZ Trotting FFA); SPRINGBANK RICHARD(VIC Trotters Derby, Dominion Handicap); SUNDON'S GIFT(millionaire, Grand Prix four times, Interdominion Final twice, NSW Trotters Flying Mile, Rowe Cup, Bill Collins Mile); SUNDON'S LUCK(GN & NZ Trotters Derbies); SUNDON'S WAY(Bill Collins Mile); SUNNY ACTION(NZ Trotting FFA)SUPERBOWLCHEERLEADER(Anzac Cup); SUPREME PAT(VIC Trotters Derby; WHATSUNDERMYKILT(Dominion Handicap).
His richest Australian-bred trotter is I Didn't Do It($455,554) with Sundon's Gift, bred in NZ being the richest raced in Australia($1,275,264). In NZ, One Over Kenny($1,060,394) is his richest performer.
Where speed is concerned, Sundon's fastest Australian-bred trotter is Aleppo Midas (T1:56.3) and again Sundon's Gift(T1:54.3)is his fastest in Australia. In NZ Ima Gold Digger's T1:56.7 at Ashburton is his quickest. In North America, a select band of six ANZ bred trotters haver trotted a mile in better than 1:53. Of these six trotters, four were sired by Sundon - the fastest Southern Hemisphere bred trotter is Mighty Dragon, he recorded T1:52.0US at Meadowlands in 2003. Lets Get Serious(T1:52.2US - 2009), Westland Sun(T1:52.3US - 2006)and Delft(Ti:53.0US - 2007). Note:- Lyell Creek and A Touch of Flair round out the six trotters.
SUNDON'S BROODMARE SIRE CREDITS include:
AYRA(NZ Trotting Stakes at 2); COMMANDER JEWEL(NZ Trotters Oaks); DOCTOR MICKEY(NZ Trotters Derby); FLYING ISA(Jewels Ruby at 2, Australasian Breeders Crown at 2, fastest trotter in Australasia T1:53.2); GAMELY DANSK(SA Trotters Cup); HABIBTI(NZ & NSW Trotters Derbies, NSW & VIC Trotters Oaks), MAJESTIC TIME(NZ Trotters Oaks); MIAMI H(Australasian Breeders Crown at 3), MONBET(Jewels Ruby at 2); MOUNTBATTEN(Dominion Handicap, NZ Trotting Championship, ANZ Grand Circuit Trotting Champion); MYSTIC HUSH(NSW, VIC & SA Trotters Oaks); ONE OVER DA MOON(Jewels Ruby at 2); PARAMOUNT GEEGEE($500,000 Handicap Breeders Crowns at 2 & 3, GN & NZ Trotters Derbies, Jewels Ruby at 3); PRIME POWER (Jewels Ruby at 3); ROYAL ASPIRATIONS(Jewels Ruby at 2. As a 2yo trotted a mile in 1:56.5); SOVEREIGNTY($3/4m, GN Derby, National Trot, Cambridge Flying Stakes); SPIDER GIRL(VIC Sires Stakes at 2,3&4); STENT(Anzac Cup, Australasian Grand Prix, heat VIC Great Southern Star); VULCAN($3/4m, Jewels Ruby at 3&4, NZ Trotting FFA, Dominion Handicap, Dullard Cup, Australasian Grand Prix, Heat & final VIC Great Southern Star, NZ Trotting Championship, Knight Pistol Trotters Cup, ANZ Grand Circuit Trotting Champion).
To date Sundon has sired the winners of over 2,500 races in NZ(over 700 individual winners, a handful of whom are pacers, over 100 trotters in 2:00) plus 113 individual winners born in Australia. As a broodmare sire he has 300+ winners(46 in 2:00) of over 1,000 races in NZ(60 winners in Australia).
Credit: Duane Ranger writing in Harnessed June 2015
Champion trotter Stig has been retired for approximately the third time but this time his trainer Paul Nairn is all but certain there will be no fairytale comeback story. “He is more likely to be seen at the Ellesmere show in October competing in the hack class than back on a racetrack,” says the eleven year-old gelding’s legendary trainer, Paul Nairn.
“He has been offloading which has caused him to go in a hind suspensory,” advised Nairn. “He is still relatively sound but he would definitely need a spell and it is not easy to bring back an eleven-year-old gelding,” he added. “And I think he has earned his retirement, don’t you?”
The war horse who stole the hearts of harness racing fans across Australasia will now live out his days as a riding hack for Stacy Whatuira, who works for Nairn at his Leeston base.
When asked what Stig’s greatest attributes were, Nairn was quick to highlight his toughness and huge will to win. “When he was right he was just such a tremendous stayer,” said Nairn. “He simply had no bottom to him.”
“The race that will always stand out for me is his Dominion Handicap win in 2008. I think Darren Tyquin called the race that day and it was a tremendous call. He was last and looped the field four wide and was simply too good. For those of you who can’t remember that day, Darren Tyquin’s words were: “Super Stig. Have a look at a real champion go. He is the best trotter in New Zealand and his name is Stig!”
Sadly, just four months after this, Stig went amiss and after the gelding went sore again while being jogged up by co-owner Tim Butt, the son of Armbro Invasion was officially retired.
But, somehow, through the deeds of a champion horse and a champion trainer, Stig made it back to the races in February of 2012 to start a campaign which saw him win the Rowe Cup in December in what was one of the most emotional victories ever seen at Alexandra Park. “He was doing the dual sulkies out at Lindsay Kerslake’s place and he seemed sound so I decided to give him another go,” recalls Nairn. “I’m certainly glad I did now,” he laughed.
“His Rowe Cup win was an absolute fairytale and is definitely the race that stands out alongside his Dominion victory.If he had have had a sound career he could have been absolutely anything,” Nairn concluded.
Nairn said he would like to pay thanks to his vet Lindsay Colwell, who has been an instrumental part of the second half of Stig’s career, as well as David Butt, who did a wonderful job of driving the gelding throughout his career.
Nairn also thanked co-owner Jim Boyd, who became famous for his post-race songs, which included the hit single ‘Stigey boy’. “I think I need to thank Jim as he annoyed Tim (Butt) so much that Tim got sick of him and decided to offload him, as well as Stig, on to me,” Nairn quipped.
STIG FACT FILE:
Lifetime starts: 63 wins: 23 seconds: 12 thirds: 6
Sire: Armbro Invasion
Dam: Naraya (Gekoj)
Owners: T G Butt, Mrs Andrea Butt, J S Boyd, Mrs R I Boyd, R G Thomas, Ms J A Gordon
Group One wins: New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All, Dominion Handicap, National Trot, Rowe Cup, Great Southern Star heat.
Credit: Mitchell Robertson
Sundon, outstanding trotter and trotting sire in Australasia over the past 20 years. He won 27 of his 60 starts (T2:01.1) with 13 wins at Addington. Feature wins included Dominion Hcp, NZ Trotting Stakes 2 Rosso Antico Stakes, 3 Interdominion heats, NZ Trotting Championship, Ashburton Trotters Mile. Sundon had an unbeaten sequence of 14 wins, a then record for a pacer or trotter until beaten by Courage Under Fire and Lyell Creek (20).
He was 1988 two-year-old, 1989 three-year-old, 1991 Aged and Overall Trotter of Year.
Sundon has twice been champion NZ sire(stakes); 14 times leading NZ trotting sire(stakes/winners); 11 times leading Australian trotting sire(stakes, 10 times for winners); four times NZ & Australian leading trotting broodmare sire. He has sired four Jewels winners (10 as broodmare sire), numerous Group race winners and age group champions.
Sundon has to date sired the winners of over 2,500 races in NZ (over 700 individual winners, over 100 trotters in 2:00 or faster), 113 winners born in Australia and is broodmare sire of 300+ winners(45 in 2:00) of over 1,000 races in NZ(60 winners in Australia.
His standout trotters include Allegro Agitato, Delft, Escapee, Galleons Sunset, Houhini Star, I Didn't Do It, Ima Gold Digger, Jasmyns Gift, Kahdon, Martina H, Master Lavros, One Over Kenny, Pompallier, Springbank Richard, Sundon's Gift, Sindon's Luck, Thedonsson, Whatsundermykilt.
Credit: HARNESSED Nov 2014
PETER THE GREAT
Sire Peter The Great's impact on the American standard bred scene is only surpassed by Hambletonian 10. As a two-year-old he ran second to filly, Janie T, in the Kentucky Futurity when she set a world record. At three he won the Kentucky Futurity by twenty lengths in a race record T2:07 1/4.
His record as a sire far surpasses that of any other sire. Milestones include:-
~Leading sire of America for nine successive years.
~Daughters produced 122 Classic Winners including champion trotter of the century in Greyhound.
~Six Hambletonian winners - Greyhound, Iosolas Worthy, Lord Jim, McLin Hanover, Spencer, Yankee Maid.
~Eleven Kentucky Futurity winners.
~Standout trotting colts as in wealthiest, Peter Scott and Peter Volo, and fastest Peter Volo(T2:02 1/2)
~187 registered siring sons of whom thirteen produced in excess of one hundred Standard Performers each.
~Golden Cross with Axworthy mares.
Credit: Peter Craig writing in Harnessed Nov 2014
MONKEY KING RETIRES
Monkey King, the winner of 39 races and a record $3.48 million in stakes has been retired. The harness racing 9yr-old, raced by Robert Famularo, had his racing curtailed by soreness over the past 12 months. He had his last race and 95th start when fourth to Sir Lincoln at Addington on February 4.
The Sands A Flyin-Tuapeka Vale gelding was trained for his first 20 wins by Steven Reid and his next two by Reid in partnership with Graeme Rogerson. He was prepared for his remaining 17 wins by Brendon Hill.
Ricky May, the Methven reinsman, drove Monkey King in 25 of his wins.
He won the New Zealand Derby and was successful in the New Zealand Messenger and the Harness Jewels. He won the New Zealand Cup and New Zealand Free-For-All double in 2009 and 2010 and the Auckland Cup in 2010. He paced 1.50.8 winning the 2009 Miracle Mile. He won both his heats at the 2010 Sydney Interdominions before a game second to another champion, Blacks A Fake, in the Grand Final. He returned to Auckland just five days later for his Auckland Cup success.
He developed from a talented young horse to a world-class stayer and fans loved him because of his small stature and his tenacious will to win. Most of those fans did not know what trainer Hill did. "He is actually a bit of a handful," Hill said. "He is a grumpy old bloke and would have a bite or a kick at you if you gave him the chance." "But that is just him. His attitude. He knows how good he is - which was very, very good."
The 1988 New Zealand Messenger Championship winner, Rostriever Hanover passed away on Ian Munro's 700-acre block in Otematata earlier this month. He was 29.
The son of Plat Du Jour and Rostriever Lady also won a New Zealand Junior Free-For-All, an Ashburton Cup, a DB Superstars Final, and a New Brighton Cup. All Up Rostriever Hanover won 17 of his 46 starts and placed six times for $342,895. He experienced his most successful year as a 4-year-old winning eight of his 15 starts and placing four times for $237,495.
He was owned by North Otago (Otematata) horseman and sheep farmer, Ian Munro. His late mother Lexie, who bred the talented bay gelding, also had a share in him.
Munro said Rostriever Hanover was the best race-horse that he had raced. He did the breaking in and training early on before handing over the reins to Patrick O'Reilly Junior in November 1986, when the horse was three. "Yes he's the best I've had and I'll never forget him. He was a tough old bugger but never had much luck with injuries. We did breed Waitaki Hanover as well. He was a pretty nice sort of a horse but we sold him as a 2-year-old to Fred Smith for 6,000 pounds."
Munro said after Rostriever Hanover won the New Brighton Cup he injured a knee but recovered to win the New Zealand Junior Free-For-All exactly a year later.
"He was a very nice horse but he could have been better had he not copped so many injuries throughout his career. Bad luck followed him around a bit. A week before the messenger he beat Luxury Liner, also at Alexandra Park," Munro said.
He said he tried to retrieve his pride and joy from his retirement paddock just a few days before his death but there was no way the old boy was going to let Munro catch him. "I couldn't get near him no matter how hard I tried. He loved his retirement roaming our paddocks. he was very happy in his retirement years. It's quite sad to think he'll no longer be around. "We buried him close to our house Munro said.
Credit: Duane Ranger writing in HarnessLnk