FEATURE RACE COMMENT
The influence of Rothschild in the early part of the century was never more evident than in the outcome of the 1912 New Zealand Cup, an in the composition of the field that went to the post.
The first three placed horses - Albert H, Ravenschild and Glendolough - were all by Rothschild. this outstanding achievement was later equalled by Light Brigade in 1957, when his progeny - Lookaway, Thunder and La Mignon - were the first three past the post. With the exception of Quincey, who was by Vancleve, all the other 15 acceptors in 1912 were descendants of either Rothschild or Prince Imperial. The latter had four representatives, while Rothschild had seven of his own, three by his sons and one by a grandson.
Albert H, a seven-year-old bay horse, was Rothschild's second New Zealand Cup winner, the first being Belmont M, in 1906. Driven a patient race by his trainer Albert Hendriksen, having his first Cup experience, Albert H came with a determined run in the final stages to win going away by two lengths. Ravenschild (Free Holmes)took second, with four lengths to Glendalough. Albert H paced the two miles in 4:48.8. Emmeline stood alone at the back on handicap, with her nearest rivals, St Swithin and Aberfeldy, five seconds away. The front-runners Medallion, Manderene, Ravenschild and Piecework started from nine seconds. Albert H was one of seven who started from eight seconds.
Albert H was the season's leading money-winner with £881. He was started only twice in the 1911-12 season - at the Canterbury Park meeting the previous June - and had won on both occasions in heavy ground. In August of the current season he was second in the King George Handicap, and the same afternoon won the International Handicap, over a mile-and-a-quarter. Despite this form he started seventh favourite in the Cup.
His dam, Jessie M, was by a thoroughbred horse, Son Of A Gun, who had placed second in the 1888 New Zealand Galloping Cup. Originally 18 horses had been accepted for the 1912 Cup, but Silver Princess and Lady Clare were withdrawn. Altogether 128 runners were accepted for the first day's racing, providing eight capacity fields.
St Swithin was made Cup favourite, Auckland pacer Manderene was second Choice, and Redchild, a trotter, was the next-best supported. However, all three failed to pay a dividend. The start was a shambles. Harry McNae's Gold Bell broke and collided with St Swithin, who dislodged his driver, Andy Pringle. Manderene also broke badly at the start. Bright stumbled after half-a-mile and was pulled up, and Medallion became another casualtywhen he broke and was pulled up near the mile post. So, again, the race was not a good one, with many horses not performing up to their handicaps, and the field was well spread over most of journey.
Showers on the second day made the track heavy. in the main race Adonis (Free Holmes), by Harold Dillon from Thelma, thereby a half-brother to Wildwood Junior, beat Sparkling Kola and Quincey. One of the two trotters who had contested the Cup, Quincey improved on his run when he beat the pacers on the third day, in the Courtenay Handicap. The Vancleve stallion ran an excellent 4:38, 10 seconds faster than the Cup time of Albert H. Master Raymond won the Dominion from Muricata and Kelso, taking 4:52.2 to trot the two miles.
The early indications were that the 1912 meeting would be a successful one, and so it proved. Totalisator returns on Cup Day smashed all records. Betting reached £32,969, with £7053 invested on the Cup. The turnover for the three days was £99,177, well within reach of the club's next milestone, £100,000.
Two alterations greeted patrons when they arrived at Addington for this meeting. The club had put up a large board, visible from all parts of the ground, on which were the names of the riders or drivers. Because of the growing importance of vehicular traffic, the club had bought more land and built a special roadway and entrance for all vehicles.
Harry Nicoll was the top owner for the third consecutive season with £987, well down on the £1547 and £1222 he had won in the previous two seasons.
Credit: Bernie Wood writing in The Cup