YEAR: 2023

The decision to send Callie’s Delight south 16 months ago has proven to be a masterstroke by her previous trainer John Dickie.

The now seven-year-old mare was a highly consistent performer for his Clevedon operation, winning seven races and placing in the Group 1 Queen Of Hearts (2200m), but he thought she was better placed in the south.

Dickie advised Callie’s Delight’s owners to send her to Woodend Beach trainer Bob Butt and she has thrived in the coastal environment.

She has added a further five victories to her record, highlighted by her maiden Group 1 success in the Fahey Fence Hire 51st NZ Standardbred Breeders’ Stakes (2600m) at Addington on Friday night, a race she placed in last year.

Callie’s Delight drew ideally in one and was given the perfect trip in the trail throughout by Blair Orange behind Lady Of The Light, who kept an honest pace throughout, and the diminutive Callie’s Delight was able to scoot up the passing lane to score a head victory.
“It was good to get a good draw and it all worked out perfectly,” Butt said.

“Blair summed it up perfectly and trailed Lady Of the Light and it worked out great.

“She ran third in the race last year where she was quite unlucky.

“She has always been knocking on the door against those good mares so it was good that she got the Group One because she deserves it. She just tries her guts out.”
Butt said he was thankful for Dickie for sending the mare south.

“John and Josh sent her down. She did a great job with them, she placed in a Group One when they had her and they thought the beach might help her,” Butt said.

“I am lucky and thankful to them for sending her down.”
Butt is unsure of Callie’s Delight’s next targets, but he is sure to savour what was a satisfying Group 1 victory on Friday night.

“I haven’t really thought about after tonight. She will probably race on through,” he said.

Credit : Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk, 10 Feb 2023

Credit: Joshua Smith


YEAR: 2023


Muscle Mountain’s rivals can expect the heat to get even more intense after the trotting star claimed his second win in the Fred Shaw Memorial Group 1 New Zealand Trotting Championship.

Backers of the red-hot favourite only had cause for concern in the last 100m of the Addington feature, when the Greg and Nina Hope trained six-year-old appeared to lose concentration.

Driver Ben Hope stoked up the big striding squaregaiter and he went one better than his second to Sundees Son in last year’s edition.

Hope overcame an incredibly challenging seven days to win the race after being stuck down with what doctors thought was a bacterial infection which had him unwell into the early part of this week.

The reinsman controlled the pace with Muscle Mountain, speeding home in quick sectionals to score in a time that was seven seconds slower than last year’s running.
Though thrilled to win, Hope’s first thoughts were of regret because his ‘stackem up and sprintem home’ tactics didn’t let Muscle Mountain show off his huge motor.
“I don’t think I did the horse justice with how I judged the pace but lucky enough he’s superstar and was able to overcome it,” Hope said.

That seems bad news for the horse’s rivals on his upcoming North Island campaign.
The Hope camp plan to bypass the upcoming Waikato Trotters Flying Mile before the targeting the Lyell Creek Stakes.

Don’t be surprised if Ben Hope lets his superstar trotter roll along at Alexandra Park following the small fright he gave the reinsman in the late stages of Friday night’s feature.

Aardiebythehill was excellent in second and looked a winning chance when making ground in the late stages as Muscle Mountain shortened stride.
Midnight Dash ran into third ahead of Oscar Bonavena who ran a big race, sitting parked after losing ground after a rare early gallop.

Credit : Jonny Turner, HRNZ News 1 April 2023

Credit: Jonny Turner


YEAR: 2022

Nazareth may have stunned punters by winning the Pron8ure Probiotic $100,000 NZ Trotting Derby on Sunday but co-trainer Robert Dunn says he wasn’t as shocked.

The lightly-raced trotter kept his head while many around him lost theirs in the classic and after a perfect Tim Williams drive grabbed Mystic Max right on the line to give Team Dunn the two Trotting Derbys in the same season, with Highgrove having won the Northern Derby in May.

He finished a brave third this time after an early gallop, one that was matched by half the field in a messy race that took two attempts to get underway.

None of that should take away from Nazareth’s win as he was having just his ninth career start and has overcome a brutal virus in the last two months to now be a group 1 winner.

“He may have gone into the race our second stringer but he was a good one,” says Dunn.

“He has gone from an average maiden three months ago to a Derby winner and that suggests, the way he is improving, he will be an open class horse.”

Dunn was also stoked with the run of Highgrove but says with the change of the season to match the calendar year both horses will likely head to the paddock.

“Both of them have had the same virus that has affected so many in our stable so we have decided a lot of them can now have a break to get over it,” he explains.

“With the four-year-olds not having many early targets he can work his way through the grades next year when he will be an even better horse.”

Nazareth was bred by Jenny Butt from her handy mare Maysoon and went through the sale ring before ending up with the Dunn stable for a large ownership group.

“They are a good bunch so we are thrilled to get a good result for them.”

While the stable’s effort to win both of New Zealand’s trotting Derbys in the same season is rare it was actually achieved by the All Stars in 2018 when they won at Addington by Luby Lou and the Northern Derby with Winterfell.

Team Dunn missed a shot at a second trotting Group 1 on Sunday when Sundees Son was withdrawn from the NZ Trotting Free-For-All but the stable’s senior partner reports the three-time Dominion winner is actually better than he expected.

“He knocked a leg and we thought it would rule him out of the summer but the vets are saying it not too bad,” says Dunn.

“But we are still going to ease up on him and aim for the northern races in the autumn so that won’t change even though we are very happy with his recovery.”

Credit: By Michael Guerin


YEAR: 2022

After being involved in breeding, racing and harness racing administration at the highest levels for over 60 years, Jack Phillips has died in Timaru, at the age of 93.

Born in Kurow in 1929, Jack was born into a farming family, though racing was also very much in their blood.

Jack's father Gordon was a successful horseman and then his sons John (Jack), Rex, Ian and Bruce, all became heavily involved in the sport.

Described as an ardent breeder and purchaser of young standardbreds among Phillips' star performers were open class trotting mare Pure Adrenalin who won 11 races in New Zealand and then a further 27 in North America. She was third in the 1998 New Zealand Trotting Derby and the 2000 Kaikoura Free-For-All trot.

Pure Adrenalin was trained by Terry May, as was another Phillips' standout in Spring Alot, who won nine from 38 before going to North America. One of the first crops of foals of Sir Vancelot he was also third in the 2004 New Zealand Derby. Other good horses included Bronnie's Fella (six wins) and Magda Sorrell (5 wins).

Laurence Hanrahan was another top trainer that had a close association with Jack Phillips.

"He was an unbelievable man."

"Nothing was ever a problem, you couldn't ask for better owners."

The first horse Hanrahan trained for the Phillips brothers was Extraordinaire in 2000. He won five from seven before heading across the Tasman.

He also trained Camero who won eight from 20 in this country in 2022-03 and Empire Flame (9 wins).

And where the horses went the Phillips would follow.

"They went to every race meeting from Oamaru to Rangiora," says Hanrahan, "they just loved racing."

Past president of the Timaru Harness Racing Club Liz Shand agrees, saying Jack was "family and work orientated, but was very community-minded as well."

"He was a regular fixture at the Grey Way lounge with (wife) Mary ..... he very much enjoyed the social side of racing."

Jack and Mary's daughter the late Anne Patterson also excelled as a breeder and owner. Her biggest moment was Stylish Monarch's Dominion Handicap triumph in 2010 in a then race record 4:02.9

Jack Phillips served on the local Timaru committee for forty years from 1962, including ten years as president. He was also a member of the NZ Trotting Conference (now Harness Racing NZ) for 16 years, and president for five years and represented New Zealand at five World Trotting Conferences. After one trip where he'd seen the use of pylons overseas he advocated for their introduction here. That resulted in them being installed at Methven and then his home club.

He also served on Inter Dominion Grand Council, and was senior vice president of the Inter Dominion Harness racing council from 1989-93. In 2009 he was inducted into the Addington Raceway Hall Of Fame.

A memorial service for Jack Phillips will be held at the Grey Way Lounge at Phar Lap Raceway on Saturday at 1.30pm.

Credit: HRNZ


YEAR: 2022

The first of the day's Group 1s and it was a comfortable win for the short priced favourite True Fantasy in the $140,000 Nevele R Fillies Series Final. Driven confidently by Natalie Rasmussen True Fantasy strode to the lead and was never headed. Key rival and stablemate Queen Of Diamonds was not a factor after galloping, with Miki Montana and Obsession filling the minors at good money. It was True Fantasy's 10th win in 19 starts. It's the all powerful All Stars stable's first win for the day, after Sinbad got relegated in race 2.

Credit: HRNZ News 8 Nov 2022


YEAR: 2022


By Frank Marrion courtesy of the HarnessXpress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credit: HRNZ


YEAR: 2022


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He is survived by four daughters and two sons.

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

Credit: Michael Guerin


YEAR: 2022


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credit: 20 April 2022, Obituary HRNZ

Credit: HRNZ


YEAR: 2022


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

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

Denis Donovan Nyhan

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

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

Denis Donovan Nyhan

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

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

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

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

Denis Donovan Nyhan

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

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

Denis Donovan Nyhan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He was 82.

Credit: HRNZ


YEAR: 2022


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

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

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

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

Jim Dalgety

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jim Dalgety

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

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

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

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

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

Bolton Byrd tied up badly and had a gait problem.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jim Dalgety

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jim Dalgety

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

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

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

Jim Dalgety

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credit: Dave McCarthy 29 April 2022 HRNZ News

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