YEAR: 1986

The Canterbury Park Trotting Club traces its origins to the Plumpton Park Club, which raced on a 74 acre course at Sockburn centred on the present Air Force Museum. The early history of the club was fairly chequered and, for three seasons, it went into recess.

On Feb 2, 1884 the CANTERBURY TIMES advertised the "inaugural" meeting of the Plumpton Park Racing Club would be held on March 11, 1884.

Seven races were held including one Trot. The totalisator, operated by Hobbs and Goodwin, handled 1,300.

Club stewards for that first meeting were: B J Hall, E R Deacon, J B Hill, W Attwood, A McDonald, S Bailey, W H Porter, T H Ranger, T Acland & Captain Bell. The treasurer was W G Judge (also the chairman of the directors of the Coursing Club in 1886) and the Secretary was Mr E S B Bell.

The trot was won by the mare, Formosa, which was also owned by Mr E S B Bell, who is shown in the bookmakers' settling lists a few days later as being paid 28.

The trot also revealed a rather amateurish ring-in attempt. The CANTERBURY TIMES recorded thus:

"The handicapper having no knowledge of a brown mare called Kathleen, put her on 55 secs. But it became known that the mare resembled strongly a grey mare called Peggy, which had won the Dunedin Trot in 1882.
During the day the mare sweated and white patches on her tail became apparent. A steward ran his hand through her tail and it covered in a brown, sticky substance.
The horse was quickly removed from the course. She holds nominations at New Brighton and Lancaster Park meetings, but is unlikely to be seen again on a Canterbury racecourse."

The Club ran five meetings in the 1884-5 season, all with the same format. In 1886-87 there were four meetings and the following season Plumpton Park reverted to five meetings. At the February and April meetings the club ran two trots on the programme instead of the customary one. The last meeting of 1887-88 was held in July and in August the Canterbury Times reported there appeared to be a problem with successful owners not being paid out.

It transpired the meeting had been run solely by Mr E S B Bell who was now adjudged bankrupt. Quite a scandal erupted and investigations revealed that Mr Bell's licence to run the meeting under the name of Plumpton Park had been granted by the Canterbury Jockey Club which, for no apparent reason, had refused a similar request from a Mr M Taylor. Stewards of the Club in those days were liable for the payment of stake-money but Mr Bell was found to have advertised his meeting without including the names of the stewards or other officials on the day.

The owners and public had contributed some 160 to Mr Bell and there should have been enough to pay out the Stake-money and still leave some 40 over. Mr Bell appears to have dropped out of sight, but the scandal continued. On September 143, 1888, the Canterbury Times reported a court case involving Mr C Hood Williams, owner of Sultan, a winner at the meeting and to whom 28/10/- was due. Mr Williams sued a Mr P Campbell, who had been listed in the official race book as a steward and thus was culpable to pay the stake.

During the court case it was learned that Mr Bell, secretary also of the Plumpton Park Coursing Club and the Island Bay Racing Club in Wellington (it was in recess at the time) had approached Mr Campbell to act as a steward on the day. Others in that capacity were a Captain Bell, Mr E S B Bell and Mr George Cutts.

On September 20 Judge Beetham found against the owner, Mr Williams, and ordered him to pay costs of 6/7/-, saying he had no claim against Mr Campbell. "You entered into an agreement with Mr Bell, not Mr Campbell, and you did so with your eyes wide open," said Judge Beetham. The judge's decision aroused considerable controversy and the Canterbury Times was moved to comment: "It is a pity Judge Beetham was not better acquainted with the customs of the racing world in such matters."

The Plumpton Park Club then went into recess. It did not operate at all in the seasons of 1888-89,1889-90 or 1890-91.

Then, on July 9, 1891, the Canterbury Times carried an advertisement for a Plumpton Park Steeplechase meeting to be run on August 1. The club was granted a "conditional permit" by the Canterbury Jockey Club to run four steeplechase events and, at the time of advertising, still did not have a totalisator licence. Stewards for the club were given as: D O'Brien (also the judge), E W Roper, F Beverley, J A Holmes, C S Howell, J B Hill, T Quill, A S Clarkson (also hon. secretary), A Loughrey and R J Mason. It was known officially as the Metropolitan Plumpton Park Company.

The Canterbury Times commenting on the return of a Plumpton Park Club, recalled the debacle of 1888 and claimed there was "no known club racing at Plumpton Park." The steeplechase meeting was moderately successful. The Canterbury Times, on August 6, noted the club had now changed its name to the Plumpton Park Racing and Trotting Club and this is confirmed in a report from the New Zealand Trotting Association.

On October 8, 1891, the Canterbury Times advertised the "inaugural meeting" of the Plumpton Park Racing and Trotting Club to be held on November 12. It was to be the club's first full trotting meeting with eight races. Stewards were listed, the same as for the meeting on August 1, but the treasurer was Mr C S Howell, the secretary, J A Connell and the starter, H J Derrett. Nominations were taken at the Scotch Stores Hotel. The meeting was a great success, the totalisator handling 2,409, and the honour of winning the first race went to Mr J Gaskin's grey mare J M, which also won the last race.

Encouraged by that meeting the club held another on January 1, 1922, offering increased stakes of 220. On April 4, 1892, the first annual meeting of share-holders in the Plumpton Park company was held. T Quill was listed as chairman of directors and a profit of 62 was announced. Mr Quill noted that during the previous 12 months the Plumpton Park Racing and Trotting Club had operated as a separate body, having taken over the course and grandstands at cost price plus 25 per annum rental.

The Plumpton Park Club continued to operate successfully, mixing full gallop and trot meetings until 1896-97 when its two meetings that season were strictly for trotters. The meetings were split into four days and were known as the spring and autumn meetings.

In 1898-99, for the first time, the club was officially known as the Plumpton Park Trotting Club, having dropped the word "Racing" at its annual meeting. In 1898 Mr F Beverley was elected president. Until that time Mr C S Howell had been recognised as the chairman and he was voted president in 1899. In 1895-96 the club made a profit of 212 and listed its assets at 433/1/4. In 1896-97 it made a profit of 390/6/7 and listed assets of 2,625 which included the freeholding of the Plumpton Park course at 2,400.

Around this time it was decided to move the club's offices to the Duncan's Buildings, which were also the home of the Lancaster Park Trotting Club and the Canterbury Trotting Club.

The name of the club was changed to the Canterbury Park Trotting Club in October, 1909. The club continued to race successfully following the 1909 change of name, but this did not influence the 1920 Racing Commission chaired by Mr Fred Kent KC.

The Commission was ordered to make recommendations on the racing and trotting permits to be used after August 1, 1921, the total available to trotting being 78. In its report the Commission recommended that Canterbury Park be one of those clubs ordered to surrender its permits, another being the Otahuhu Trotting Club, whose permits were absorbed by the Auckland Trotting Club.
Canterbury Park officials used every means to apply pressure on politicians to gain their support for the retention of their permits and went as far as meeting with the Premier.

About that time the Metropolitan Club was making endeavours to develop its own racecourse in Riccarton and it purchased more than 90 acres in an area bounded by Riccarton Road, Blenheim Road and Wharenui Street. Eventually Canterbury Park won its right to retain its permits and this was immediately followed by an approach to purchase the buildings at Addington, take over the lease held by the Metropolitan Club and race on its own when the last-named club shifted.

The closure of Plumpton Park was widely criticised, particularly by trainers who ha properties close by. The club felt that it was unable to face the expenditure needed to upgrade the course, and this decided the issue. Canterbury Park paid 15,000 for the purchase of the lease and buildings and held its first meeting at Addington at New Year, 1923. The two-day meeting proved highly successful and the financial returns fully justified the decision of the committee to make the big change from Plumpton Park.

It was in 1928 that the Metropolitan Club decided that the development of its Riccarton property could not be proceeded with and in May of that year entered into an agreement with Canterbury Park to become a tenant of the course. The alliance between the two clubs continued, rather uneasily at times, with Canterbury Park being approached in 1936 by the Metropolitan Club to sell back its lease of Addington of to amalgamate. There is no record of this being developed further.

An approach by a deputation of the Metropolitan Club was made in December, 1943, to buy the course, but once more Canterbury Park applied the veto. Two years later the two clubs met to consider the formation of a holding company to run the course, but Canterbury Park came back with a suggestion that they should sell to the Metropolitan Club provided they could race permanently at Addington.

Discussions between the two clubs continued year after year, with accountants and solicitors closely involved. Finally, after the Valuation Department had valued Canterbury Park's interest in the course at 80,000, it was reported in August, 1951, that arrangements for the control of the grounds had been finalised, but general meetings of the clubs had to be called. It took until May, 1952 before the Memorandum and Articles of Association of Addington Trotting Course, Limited, were signed by the two clubs. The company is now known as Addington Raceway, Limited.

It was not long before the company became involved in a bitter argument with horsemen when oil was applied to parts of the clay track surface. Eventually an all-weather surface was laid down, again not without criticism from some quarters about the size of the material used. With improved screening methods these problems have been overcome today and now Addington Raceway has a surface equal to anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere.

The low running rail, too, had its critics when it was first used - but they were quickly overcome when persons and horses involved in accidents were tossed to the inside of the course, something which could not had occurred when the old, higher running rail was in place.

In the late 1950s the Canterbury Park Trotting Club introduced its policy of attempting to secure a better deal for trotters, in particular trying to introduce more racing for three-year-olds, and later began non-totalisator events for two-year-olds. This was done at a time when many were urging the Metropolitan Club to drop the New Zealand Trotting Stakes, then the only classic for three-year-old trotters, as the race more often not had developed into a procession and had frequently been a disaster as a betting medium.

The Canterbury Park club persevered with its encouragement for young trotters and on June 6 1981, it ran the first totalisator race restricted to first-season horses. This was the New Zealand Two-Year-Old Trotting Stakes won by the Westport filly, Game Countess, trained and driven by Wally Forsyth. The race is now recognised as the main race on the calendar for young trotters and it has been granted Group 2 status by the Trotting Conference.

In the past 25 years or so the club has provided racing for the top pacers and trotters and in 1973 it introduced the New Zealand Standardbreds Breeders Stakes, a mile race for mares and fillies. From a lowly start this race has grown rapidly in stature with most of their time competing. Bonnie's Chance gained fame when she won the race in three consecutive years from 1982, recording the race record time of 1:57.7 in her second success. This time was lowered to 1:57.3 by Hilarious Guest when she won in 1985.

After trying a series of races for four-year-old pacers at its October meetings, the club in 1983 introduced the Lion Brown Three-Year-Old Series, which was won by Logan Dryham, with Naval Officer being promoted to second upon the disqualification of Roydon Glen. This series has proved popular with the public, owners and trainers alike. Thanks to generous sponsorship the final this season carried a stake of $30,000, with a further boost to $50,000 planned for 1987-88.

The club has for some years now been in the top six in New Zealand as far as stakes paid and totalisator turnover are concerned. In 1985-86 the club paid out a record $444,260 in stakes, giving it an average of $63,465 at its seven meetings. On-course betting averaged a respectable $469,227, while the off-course average was $1,052,550. In 1986 the club was granted a permit for an on-course totalisator meeting and this was scheduled to have been run on December 11 of that year.

Credit: CPTC: Centennial History 1986


YEAR: 1949


The old-established Canterbury Park Trotting Club will be the first in Canterbury to use the doubles totalisator. The unit for this innovation at the club's summer meeting on 31 December and January 2 will be of 10/-.

The Canterbury Park Club's meeting at New Year has always been a most popular fixture, and some of the best horses of both gaits compete here annually. Last season Highland Fling gave the public some great thrills when he finished third in the principal event on the first day and, from his long mark of 96yds in the Mason Handicap, of a mile and five furlongs on the second day, he ran Plunder Bar, 24yds, to a length. Dundee Sandy, Loyal Nurse and Knave of Diamonds were other high class pacers competing at the club's meeting last New Year, and this year's classes, with liberal prize-money, are again expected to attract some of the best horses of both gaits.

A semi-classic race that has become a big draw card for the Canterbury Park Club is the Charles Cross Stakes, named after a former president of the club. The Charles Cross Stakes is for three and four-year-olds, and this mile and five furlongs event never fails to attract most of the best horses of their ages in the Dominion.

The Canterbury Park Club's origins go well back into last century. In 1888 its sponsors organised dog racing. Later it ran mixed programmes for gallopers and trotters and finally concentrated on trotting meetings. From the modest 255 given in stakes at the first meeting, the total has grown to 15,100. In 1894 a committee of several men who made their mark in racing and trotting circles was appointed to the management. Among them were Messrs R J Mason, F Beverley, J L Carl, J Cresswell, A S Clarkson, J A Holmes, A Loughrey, G McKay, E W Roper, and C S Howell, the latter being chairman. The following year the club sought the services of Mr A I Rattray as secretary, and this distinguished and far-sighted pioneer was one of the finest investments the Canterbury Park Club and the sport of trotting in general ever made.

The club was for many years known as the Plumpton Park Trotting Club, the name of the property on which it raced. In 1920 the club changed its name to Canterbury Park. Two years later when the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club planned to move to a block of land it had purchased in Lower Riccarton (now an expansive state House settlement), the Canterbury Park Club purchased the plant and equipment at Addington for 15,000 and took over the lease of the Addington property. Eventually the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club abandoned its Riccarton project and has been a tenant of the Canterbury Park Club ever since.

As the secretary of the three Christchurch Trotting Clubs, Mr H E Goggin remarked after the recent record NZ Cup meeting, "trotting is in the people's blood," and the Canterbury Park Club has reason to look forward to a share in this ever-widening public appeal over the New Year period.

Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 14Dec49


YEAR: 1922


April - The Club withdrew 5,000 from L Manning and Co. and invested 6,000 with the Post Office.

August - Club members to be charged an entrance fee to meetings of 1.

August 30 - The CPTC decided to purchase the buildings at Addington from the NZMTC. The Club applied for permission to transfer its permits to Addington.

October - The Minister of Internal Affairs gave permission to the Canterbury Park and New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Clubs to race at Addington until the Met moved to its new property at Riccarton.
The club decided to change the name of its time honoured Champion Handicap was changed to the Canterbury Park Cup Handicap.

November - The CPTC decided to sell the Sockburn course by auction through Matson & Co.

December - The Club stewards decided to invite the ladies to "afternoon tea in the Steward's Stand".
The judge's box at Sockburn was donated to the New Brighton Club.

Credit: CPTC: Centennial History


YEAR: 1921


The father of Charles Selby old Peninsula veteran, having been taken by a press gang in Bristol. He served for some 12 years; his last ship, the 'Duke of York'...of which he was paymaster, was at the taking of Martinique from the French in 1794.

Later Mr Howell was 'schoolmaster and parish clerk for over 50 years' at Stroud, Gloucestershire. The school was 'known as the Red Coat School because the boys wore scarlet coats and vests in fulfilment of a benefaction left by some ancient hunting squire for that purpose'.

Charles Selby was born at Stroud on 23 June 1836 and educated at his father's school. He became a saddler and worked at Bristol, Bath, Penzance, Birmingham, Oxford, London and towns in South Wales.

Howell boarded the 'Roman Emperor' as an assisted immigrant bound for Canterbury. Perhaps, like future author Samuel Butler, one of the gentlemen who came on this vessel, he transhipped from the 'Burmah' which was specially fitted out for stock which it was to bring to the Antipodes and then disappeared without trace.

The 'Roman Emperor' arrived in 1860. Howell worked in Christchurch, moved to Sydney, and then came back as foreman to his old employer, John Craib Angus, a man prominent in business and the Presbyterian church. In 1873 Howell went into partnership with William White. After 18 months he set up his own establishment in Tattersall's Buildings at 162 Cashel Street. He carried 'on a profitable and successful business until December 1895 when he sold out to his two eldest sons'. For a time he again took over the reins before becoming interested in the Timaru Flour Milling Company and Zealandia Soap and Candle Works. In old age he decided to take a trip 'home'. Prior to his departure a dinner was tendered him as a mark of respect and goodwill. Like many businessmen, he was active in the Masonic Lodge.

Interested in racing and trotting 'as almost part of his business', Howell was one of the convenors and first chairman of the first Trotting Conference in 1895. A club - originally intended to be a coursing club - was formed at Plumpton Park, Sockburn. This did not flourish and there was established the Plumpton Park Racing and Trotting Club.

Howell was one of the original promoters, being 'gateman, secretary, treasurer, judge and chairman' and helping 'to bring the club to the successful position which it...attained'. In 1903 he could state that the club had 75 acres of freehold property at Sockburn, these being in good order and...equipped with granstand, boxes and all necessary buildings'. Indeed Plumpton Park was the only club in New Zealand which possessed 'a racing and training track with grounds of its own'. In his last years Howell saw his beloved park - now 106 acres in extent - purchased by Henry (later Sir Henry) Wigram for his air school. The park was to become the Wigram Air Force Base.

In his dealings with others in the trotting world Howell showed 'enthusiasm, ability, integrity and geniality'. In 1908 his peers commissioned Sydney Lough Thompson to paint his likeness. As well, the C S Howell Handicap was established to perpetuate 'the name of one of the most honourable and respected men in the early days of trotting'.

On 30 March 1867, at St John's Anglican church, Latimer Square, Christchurch, C S Howell harness maker, married Maggie Hall. Charles died at his daughter's residence in New Brighton, leaving four sons and two daughters. The gravestone recalls Charles Selby Howell who was born on 23 June 1836 and died on 29 April 1921; and his wife Maggie, 64, who died at Opawa on 2 October 1906.

Credit: Ch-Ch Library: Woolston/Heathcote Cemetery Records


YEAR: 1921

CPTC Centennial History

February - Mr H Reynolds resigned as starter for the CPTC after 20 years.

March - The Club advertised for a new starter at 15/15/- per day. At the same time the Club confirmed salaries for the New Year at: secretary 200 per annum; clerk, 50, and timekeeper, 4/4/- per day.

April - Mr W Norman was appointed the new starter.

May - The death of Club stalwart, Mr C S Howell was recorded. He attended his last meeting as chairman on March 2 and testimony to his frailness can be seen in a very shakey signature on the minutes. A vote of deep appreciation for Mr Howell's services to the Club for 29 years was recorded.
The course caretaker, Mr H Shirley, resigned. A replacement was advertised for at 200 per annum "with provision for the successful applicant to keep a cow and a horse on the property."
The Club formulated a remit to the Conference calling for no two-year-old races to be run further than one mile.
Mr I Coates was appointed caretaker.

June - A letter was sent to the by-products company complaining about the "filthy stench" which affected the Club's meeting on June 4. The matter was placed in the hands of the CPTC's solicitor to take such action deemed "expedient" to prevent a recurrence of the "dreadful stench".

July - Proposed by Mr I A Holmes, seconded Mr I Hembling that the New Brighton & New Zealand Metropolitan Clubs be approached to see if they would give up a date to the Canterbury Park Trotting Club so that it could "carry on its business as usual" instead of being closed down as recommended by the Commission. Because of the gravity of the situation all work at the Sockburn course was stopped, including work on a new road.

August - A deputation of the Club met the Minister of Internal Affair to refute the recommendation of the Racing Commission to close the Club down.
The North Canterbury Jockey Club was given permission to hold its spring meeting on the Plumpton Park course.

October - The club, still fighting its closure, met with the Premier to discuss the matter.
The Club decided to pay out stakes of 6,600 at its two-day New Year Meeting.

Credit: CPTC: Centennial History


YEAR: 1920

CPTC Centennial History

January - The Club's handicapper, Mr F C Thomas, was suspended for alleged misconduct at a race meeting. He was ordered to appear before the committee. Later in the month, after considering statements, the committee reinstated.

July - The Club wrote to the owners of the by-products works at Sockburn complaining about the smell from its operations sweeping across the course on race days.

Credit: CPTC Centennial History


YEAR: 1919

CPTC Centennial History

June - The salary of the caretaker was increased to 210 a year.

Credit: CPTC Centennial History


YEAR: 1917

CPTC Centennial History

April - The committee was of the opinion that the Trotting Conference be called together to consider the curtailment of trotting meetings as a war-time measure.

Credit: CPTC Centennial History


YEAR: 1916

CPTC: Centennial History

January - The committee resolved to pay the salary of the Secretary's assistant, Mr H E Goggin, while he was serving at the front.

June - The Club invested 3,000 at call.

October - The CPTC decided that the stake for the Champion Handicap be increased to 1,000.

November - Messrs I Franks, C E Cross, R Derrett and I A Holmes were appointed judiciary stewards to act with the stipendary stewards.

December - An application for membership was declined on the grounds that the person concerned was a member of other clubs.

Credit: Extract from 1916 Board Minutes


YEAR: 1915

CPTC: Centennial History

August - The CPTC donated 500 to the Patriotic Fund for wounded soldiers.

December - The CPTC was asked to appoint a delegate to a meeting of the Trotting Conference called to consider the appointment of stipendary stewards. Mr R Wallace was appointed and told to point out that from the experience of the Club it was considered this expense was "quite unnecessary".

Credit: Extract from 1915 Board Minutes

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