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RACING HISTORY

 

YEAR: 1949

FEATURE RACE COMMENT

Loyal Nurse & trainer/driver Colin Berkett
1949 NEW ZEALAND TROTTING CUP

"That crabby old so-and-so..." "She only takes it into her head now and again to do her best" These are some of the uncharitable things we all used to say about Saturday's NZ Jubilee Cup winner, Loyal Nurse, during her patch-work racing career of past years.

One day at Ashburton she was the centre of a public demonstration that lasted for several minutes because she bolted in in a race after performing like a jaded Jezebel the day before. Official investigation confirmed what her connections told the stewards about her: she was something of an unpredictable flapper, she pleased herself whether she raced or not. All very true and confirmed time and again.

Which only goes to show that there must be something in heredity. Loyal Nurse's dam, War Maid, was as rattleheaded as they came. She could not be raced, and she drifted into the ownership of Mr T S Harrison something like this: he was on the look-out for a shepherd's hack for duty on his farm and one day in the Methven township he met Mr George Kelly, who promptly offered him War Maid for the paltry sum of 8.

To Logan Fraser, War Maid produced a useful winner in Trikkala, and her mating with Grattan Loyal resulted in Loyal Nurse, winner to date of 18,103, easily a record for a mare in New Zealand and Australia. Among her previous successes when trained by C V May, were the Ashburton All Aged Stakes, Auckland Cup, Auckland Champion Handicap, and she also performed with credit at the 1948 Inter-Dominion Championships at Auckland.

Loyal Nurse is just a plain black mare, nine years old; in a sale-ring she could scarcely aspire to be a top-priced lot on looks; but she is fleetly-built, light-fleshed, longer than most horses, constructed for speed rather than comfort, as evidence her last half-mile in a fraction better than 59secs on Saturday.

As we have already told you, Loyal Nurse was a bit of a character in some past seasons. Her inconsistency here and there earned for her the reputation of being moody, a 'sour old tart' on occasions. One day she just wouldn't or couldn't put her best foot forward; the following day she would put her long ewe neck in a different and more determined angle and win with lengths to spare.

On Saturday Loyal Nurse raced in mellow mood; age and a change of scenery up at Colin Berkett's stable coincided like a pair of rose-coloured glasses with Jubilee Cup day to such effect the Loyal Nurse lowered the existing world's race record for a mare, 4:13 3-5 (held jointly by Haughty and Loyal Nurse herself), by more than a second. Loyal Nurse's previous best two-mile figures, 4:13 3-5, were registered when she ran second to Emulous in the Grand Final of the Inter-Dominion Championship at Auckland in 1948.

Loyal Nurse was bred by her owner, Mr T S Harrison, a member of the executive of the NZ Trotting Conference and President of the Methven Trotting Club for many years. Until last season Loyal Nurse was held on lease and trained by C V May, of Methven, who won close on 13,000 in stakes with her. Last season Loyal Nurse started 16 times without getting in the money, but she had had only one race since going into C R Berkett's stable before her Cup success and she dead-heated for fourth place in that race, the Hannon Memorial Handicap at Oamaru just five days before the Cup. She certainly reached Addington on Saturday, October 29, rejuvenated and refreshed.

C R Berkett was having his second driving success in the NZ Cup; he drove Highland Fling in his first Cup success in 1947, as the year Highland Fling's trainer, L F Berkett, held Nyallo Scott on lease and had to Drive him in the Cup. Loyal Nurse's time, 4:12 1-5, is the second fastest in the long history of the race, only Highland Fling's world's race record of 4:10 3-5, put up last year bettering it. Loyal Nurse is the 10th mare to win the race, her predecessors among the 'weaker' sex having won 11 Cups between them as follows: Marian 1907, Lady Clare 1911, Winsoon 1914, Country Belle 1915, Adelaide Direct 1917, Trix Pointer 1919, Reta Peter, 1920 & 21, Marlene 1940 and Haughty, 1942 & 43.

Loyal Nurse is the second of the progeny of Grattan Loyal to take Cup honours, his previous representative being the all-in flyer Gold Bar, who disorganised the 1945 field from barrier rise. Grattan Loyal, who has passed his 29th birthday, is still a remarkably well-preserved stallion, and at the present time he has a good lead on the sires' list this season. One of our leading progenitors for many seasons, Grattan Loyal has yet to top the list for a complete season. He went very close in 1946-47, when U Scott headed him by only 404/10/-, and it would be a fitting climax to his stud life, a life that has greatly enriched breeding in this country, if he were to retain his present position on the list for the remainder of this season. Foals by him continue to arrive.

Captain Sandy, as gallant as ever in defeat, carried his total stake-winnings to 14,399, and when his great effort in the last Metropolitan free-for-all is recalled, he will be rated a first-class prospect for coming championship contests on later days of the Cup meeting. When Lady Averil dashed into the lead after the pacemaker, Dundee Sandy, wilted at the far turn, she did so with such a flourish that at one stage it looked as though she might not be caught. She put a daylight margin on her nearest attendant with a quarter to go and her third placing was a good deal better than anything she had done previously.

The favourite bracket, Globe Direct and Attack, were locked together next. Attack was securely pocketed for all but the last three fulongs and when he did get out he stood no earthly chance of giving the leaders several lengths when those leaders were travelling at well inside a two-minute clip. Attack did well enough allowing for the difficulties he encountered, because only an out-and-out champion could have won from his position at the distance. He may yet prove to be that calibre of horse, but not on Saturday's performance. Single Direct never got near the front and was ninth to finish. Commander Scott made a promising dash on the rails at the distance and drew almost up to the leaders, but he was only sixth to arrive. Knave of Diamonds was seventh, then Sprayman, Single Direct, Plunder Bar, Integrity (who lost ground at the start), Maudeen and Dundee Sandy.

Totalisator investments on the race were easily a record, the total topping the 40,000 mark for the first time. Saturday's figures were 40,717/10/- compared with the previous record of 39,283 put through in 1947.


Credit: 'Ribbonwood' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 2Nov49



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