YEAR: 1952



Five horses were spread across the track towards the finish of the Dominion Handicap, which provided one of the most thrilling races of the season and ended in the fourth horse, and backmarker, Dictation, establishing a fresh Australasian trotting record for two miles of 4:15 4-5. The previous record was Fantom's 4:16 put up on the same track in 1949; and the winning record is Dictation's 4:16 2-5 also made at Addington, in 1950.

The winner of the Dominion Handicap, Precaution, strode through the middle of the leading bunch in the final 50 yards to beat last year's winner, Barrier Reef, by a long head in the final stride. Two lengths away was Single Task, with Dictation half a length away. Sure Charge, Fourth Brigade, Fair Isle and Gold Horizon were next to arrive.

The race was full of incident from start to finish and there was no slackening of the pace at any stage. In this connection the sectional times of Dictation are illuminating. From post to post he ran two miles in 4:13 2-5, although he was forced to travel two and three sulky-widths out from the rails for the greater part of the last mile. He did the first half-mile in 63 4-5, mile in 2:06 2-5, and the mile and a half in 3:09 1-5. This terrific speed was forced upon him by the solid pacemaking of the Auckland visitor Glen Star, who did not fold up until just inside the last half-mile.

Precaution's winning run was full of merit because he made a slow beginning and still had eight horses in front of him with half a mile to go. He excelled himself in outstaying such a powerful field, one of the greatest to contest the Dominion Handicap. Precaution is a triumph of training on the part of his part-owner, A Holmes, who races him in partnership with Mr J Shelly. Precaution has always had as much speed as most trotters in his class, but for a long time he was most erratic. However, he had time to have his 'giddy spell' without losing many opportunities because, at six years, he is still a mere lad as trotters go. He is now proving well worth the time and patience Holmes expended on him in his three previous seasons of racing.

Precaution is a compactly-built bay horse by Casanova, a pacing son of Wrack and Pearlchild who sired another great trotter in Casabianca. Precaution is out of Margin, herself winner of the Dominion Handicap in 1942. Margin was a champion trotter and was made of pretty stout material because, after foaling Precaution, she returned to training, was sold at auction for 100gns to Mr W T Lowe, and for him won the Century Trotting Free-For-All at Forbury Park in May, 1948, when 14 years old. Margin was a daughter of imported Maxegin and a Wildwood Junior mare.

Precaution, sent to the yearling sales in 1948 by his breeder, Mr W Fairbairn, of Christchurch, was knocked down to A Holmes at 400gns and he has raced from the start in the ownership of Holmes and Mr J Shelly. Precaution, who was twice placed third as a three-year-old in open company, later went to Australia that season and was an easy winner of the trotting section of the Victorian Derby. At four years he won three races - the New Brighton Welcome Handicap, Forbury Tahuna Handicap, and Auckland Green Lane Handicap, two miles. As a five-year-old last season he was successful in the NZ Metropolitan Addington Trotting Stakes and the Forbury Freyberg Handicap. His Dominion stake-winnings total 4275.

Barrier Reef was desperately unlucky not to win for the second year in succession. With seven furlongs to go he was making up ground fast when Pat Review broke in front of him and sent him right back - he was actually eleventh in the running as late as half a mile from the finish and he was only headed out of victory in the final stride. Signal Light broke when in front about half-way down the home stretch. Fourth Brigade ran head-long into the backwash when Glen Star retreated quickly at the three furlongs, and the race was practically over by the time he had worked clear. Gold Horizon could not go the early part of his handicap. Dictation, usually very cautious for the first furlong or so, was in full cry almost from barrier risein Friday's race and he rapidly drew away from his co-backmarker.

Credit: 'Ribbonwood' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 19Nov52

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