Bred in California in 1903 Harold Dillon was imported as a yearling by Mr E T Le Lievre of Akaroa who played a major part in the development of the standardbred at that time. What Mr Le Lievre's reactions were when he first saw his new purchase cannot be guessed at but Harold Dillon turned out to be a very small horse and he never grew a great deal, being little more than a pony until the day he died.
Tried as a racehorse Harold Dillon was not a success but his breeding future received a boost when a member of his first small crop (he was used at the stud before he was 2 years old) won the Futurity Stakes at the Addington Easter meeting of 1909 which was an important race in it's time. This was Dillon Bell who reached the best classes, and another to do well from an early crop was Moa Bell who also won a number of races.
Harold Dillon had mixed patronage early on but once he was transferred to the Santa Rosa Stud at Halswell near Christchurch under a master horseman in Bob McMillan his stocks received a boost. Like many sires some of his stock acquired doubtful reputations which for a time threatened his own career but in the end his progeny were so successful on the track that he downed the critics and became a great sire.
Harold Dillon was leading sire for five seasons from 1916 until 1921 taking over from Rothschild and conceding leadership to Logan Pointer though he was second and third to that sire for a number of years.He produced 182 individual winners which was an excellent record for the day. His best one was the brilliant Author Dillon the Robalan of his time whose record of 18 wins and 14 placings would have been much better but for the ridiculous handicapping of the day which saw him giving away long starts to good fields. He won three NZ Free-For-Alls and was virtually unbeatable in these types of races. Like all the Harold Dillon breed he was as tough as old boots and raced from three to nine years for his record. He was a top juvenile pacer as well and was a surprising success as a sire, his mares going particularly well, producing among others Marlene (NZ Cup), Indian Clipper and Knave of Diamonds. He himself sired among others Queen Auditor who won 13 races and produced the top mare of the 50s in White Angel.
Cello Sydney Wilkes, himself little more than a pony was another top winner for Harold Dillon and among his 11 wins was the feat of winning four races at the Cup meeting which only one other horse has done, this being Cardigan Bay. Adonis another stallion on the small side was perhaps the best pacer of them all and was also a successful sire featuring prominently in the Misfortune family. Waitaki Girl by Harold Dillon won 14 races and nearly $12,000 in stakes winning the feature race at the Canterbury Park Winter Meeting four years in succession. Some of the Harold Dillons were great mudlarks one being Sungod who reached Cup class and was placed in that event. Sungod was a sire of note himself and sired All Sunshine, an ancestress of Lunar Chance.
John Dillon was another top class pacer and quite the fastest beginner seen up to his time. He started in several Cups but was a better sprinter than a stayer. The late 'Dil' Edwards claimed that John Dillon once did a quarter in 28 seconds in training at Addington which was sensational in those days. Other Cup class performers by Harold Dillon were Antonio Oinaki (also a successful sire) Dolly Dillon and Lord Dillon.
As a broodmare sire Harold Dillon was also successful his daughters producing over 200 winners, though he was more successful with his male line than some imported sires. Two from Harold Dillon mares were Pot Luck and Parisienne winner and runner-up in the 1938 Inter-Dominion Championship. Dilworth was a national recordholder and Reporter a top class performer, Grace Dillon was the grandam of Roschana the dam of Cardinal Garrison. Highland Princess was the dam of the winners of 31 races. Eileen Dillon was the dam of Acuity (7 wins) who in turn produced Poranui and the champion Australian pacer Jackie Scott. Prolific was the dam of Manoeuvre who won eight races while Tatsy Dillon who herself won the Dunedin Cup is the founder of a successful family including Tatsydale and the good trotters Merrin and Ali Bey.
Connie Dillon was a great producer for the Benny family of Springston and included in her offspring or descendants are Gold Peg (9 wins) the grandam of the ill-fated Balcairn, Royal Fame (8 wins) Royal Counter (10 wins)and others. Sakatawea the dam of Star Classic belongs to this family. Another successful Harold Dillon mare was Flossie Dillon dam of Sonoma (Methven Cup), Tom Thumb (8 wins) and Pat Dillon ancestress of a champion trotting family including Waitaki Hanover of whom she was grandam. Protector, the sire of Nigel Craig has Harold Dillon blood through his 3rd dam Muriel Dillon.
At Santa Rosa where Harold Dillon stood for most of his career until his death in 1929 there are no horses now, just rows and rows of houses. The stud may have gone and Harold Dillon may have gone but his influence on our bloodstock cannot be erased nearly as easily.
David McCarthy writing in NZ Trotguide 18Nov76
We cannot let the stud career of Harold Dillon go without adding to his list a mare which we inadvertently missed at the time. This was Mirie Dillon who founded a line of fine winners for Colin McLaughlin of Mt Hutt. She was the grandam of Allakasam and ancestress of Royal Ascot. Adding further to his list was Sadie Dillon the dam of the 1923 Cup winner Great Hope.
Credit: NZ Trotguide 11Nov76
The Trotting Cup of 1918 is now purely a matter of history, but those present at Addington on Tuesday of last week were privileged to witness a race well worthy of the stake. The winner Author Dillon, has long since been recognised as a high-class horse, in fact a champion, and right well did he bear out his reputation, for not only did he win, but he did his work in such style and won so well as to cast aside from the victory any semblance of luck.
Once more Succory was made favorite, and once again he dropped his backers. He is not steady enough in a race to punt on. In the Spring Handicap he was in the air half a dozen times. Beeswing is a greatly improved, mare. She hit the front very early in the Spring Handicap, and never once put a foot wrong, being only caught in the last fifty yards by Treasure Seeker. Just when Chub looked like getting to Beeswing for second money in the Spring Handicap, he left his feet. He had trotted a fine race all through.
Author Dillon had only just escaped the fire at trainer Ben Jarden's stables a year before with a singed tail, but on this occasion was far too quick for 10 rivals on Cup day.
A son of leading imported sire Harold Dillon and Authoress, a sister of Wildwood Junior, Author Dillon was the champion of the time and was so superior on this day, despite giving away starts of up to seven seconds, that he had the race in safe keeping half a mile from home.
Handicapped on the benchmark of nine seconds and out of the next two Cups, Author Dillon won three consequtive NZ FFA's, comfortably having the better of Cathedral Chimes off level marks, and went on to a successful stud career despite limited opportunities.
His credits in that respect included the dam of 1940 Cup winner Marlene.
**NZ HRWeekly 1Oct 2003**
The 1918 New Zealand Cup was billed as a match race between the two outstanding horses, Author Dillon and Cathedral Chimes, the former handicapped at 4:27 and Cathedral Chimes at 4:24 in the 11 horse field. Cathedral Chimes, bracketed with Matchlight and Sherwood, Author Dillon, bracketed with John Dillon, and Randle McDonnell's Emilius carried three-quarters of the £11,158 10s invested on the race. Agathos and Admiral Wood, both of whom had lost all form, had little support. From the front, Sungod had a 10-second start from Cathedral Chimes and seven seconds from Author Dillon. But that huge advantage was not enough.
Sungod, driven by 19-year-old F G Holmes - having his first drive in the race - and Moneymaker (Andy Pringle) made the early pace, but failed to stay the distance, finishing third and fourth. Second favourite Author Dillon paced a splendid race, being patiently handled an well driven by Ben Jarden. Itwas obvious four furlongs from the winning post the Author Dillon had the race in safe keeping and he won by four lengths from Matchlight (Albert Hendricksen), who finished a game second and rescued the James Bryce trio.
Emilius broke at the start and lost a lot of ground. He made several attempts during the race to get closer by following Author Dillon, but faded and finished fifth. Adelaide Direct failed to show any dash, while Agathos, Admiral Wood, John Dillon and Sherwood were never prominent. The biggest disappointment, however, was Cathedral Chimes, who began slowly and toiled in th rear, finishing a long last.
Author Dillon's time of 4:26.4 was a national race-winning record and, when retuned to the birdcage, he and Jarden received a great reception. Cheering broke out again when the club president, Charles Louisson, presented the silver cup to Jarden. Author Dillon was hailed a champion and his subsequent form confirmed his standing as th country's best-performed pacer to that time. Two days later he won the first of his three consecutive New Zealand Free-For-Alls, beating Adelaide Direct by two lengths, with six lengths to Cathedral Chimes, and the only other starter, Admiral Wood, beaten off. Author Dillon's New Zealand Cup - Free-For-All double at the same meeting has been repeated 25 times.
Willie Lincoln, by Lord Elmo, who was second behind Matchlight in the Courtenay Handicap, won the third-day Christchurch Handicap. However, Author Dillon provided th sensation. He started 12 seconds behind the winner and was beaten by only a half-length. He paced a world-record 4:24.6. The £2000 won by Author Dillon was the largest sum won at a harness racing meeting in New Zealand. Ben Jarden raced three horses at this meeting, John Dillon and Huon Patch being the other two. All were in the money, netting Jarden £2405. Author Dillon was the season's top earner with £2350.
Cup Day racing was marred by a fall in the fourth race, the Riccarton Handicap, in which James Bryce broke his leg. No other driver was hurtand no horses suffered injuries. While the fall sidelined Bryce for a considerable time, the family name was not absent from the tracks, because James Bryce junior made his appearance at the age of 16 and won the third-day Australasian Handicap with Joan of Arc.
Author Dillon started in two further New Zeand Cups, pacing a world race record of 4:21.6 in 1920 when finishing third. Over seven seasons he was the top earner only once, though in 1920-21 he was runner-up to Willie Lincoln. He eventually went into retirement aged nine, having raced 58 times, for 18 wins and 14 minor placings. His lifetime earnings reached £7760, won during a period when stakes were very low by today's standards. He paid for his brilliant performances with increasing handicaps and from early on was starting from near-impossible marks. At the time of his retirement, Author Dillon had lowered his mile time to 2:06.4. In addition, he held the two-mile(4:21.6) and one-mile-and-a-quarter(2:41.4)records, sharing the latter with Our Thorpe who, just before the 1918 Cup, set a mile record of 2:06.2 against time at Addington. Sungod, third in the 1918 Cup, eventually went to stud in Southland, where he was the leading sire for many years.
Ben Jarden raced a big team. He later moved from Islington to Yaldhurst, where he set up his Irvington Stud and in 1940 he moved to Lower Hutt and trained a small team at Hutt Park. The Jarden name was kept to the forefront in the 1950's through the deeds of Ben Jarden's son, Ron, who became one of New Zealand's greatest rugby stars. For a time Ben Jarden stood Author Dillon at his Irvington Stud, and later Sir John McKenzie stood him at Roydon Lodge. Author Dillon proved a successful sire. He produced two Cup-class offspring (Author Jinks and Lindbergh) and a Dominion Handicap winner in Writer. His daughters produced several good winners, among them Marlene(1940 New Zealand Cup winner), Knave Of Diamonds(placed in the 1947 Cup) and Indian Clipper.
Author Dillon's sire, Harold Dillon, was an outstanding producer who took over from Rothschild as the leading sire in New Zealand. He was at the head of the list for six seasons, from 1916-17 until 1921-22. He was foaled in California in 1903 and imported to New Zealand bt Etienne Le Lievre as a yearling. The American horseman Robert McMillan stood Harold Dillon at his Santa Rosa Stud, at Halswell, with outstanding success. Author Dillon was certainly his best offspring, but others who made Cup class were Paul Default, Dolly Dillon, Oinako, Lord Dillon, Sungod, Waitaki Girl and Adonis. Harold Dillon mares also produced nemerous winners, the best being the great race and broodmare Parisienne, dam of La Mignon and Mary Wootton, La Mignon ran third in the 1957 New Zealand Cup and later produced the brilliant Garcon Roux. Mary Wootton, to U Scott, produced Scottish Command, who also recorded a third in the New Zealand Cup, in 1961. Scottish Command left his mark at stud, producing Sole Command, who won the NZ Cup in 1977, and the Auckland Cup in February 1978, and Trusty Scot, winner of the 1978 NZ Cup. Scottish Command became the third New Zealand-bred sire, after Johnny Globe and Young Charles, to break the stranglehold that the imported sires held on the New Zealand breeding scene. He finished top sire in the 1977-78 season.
**Bernie Wood writing in The Cup**
Credit: NZ HRWeekly 1Oct03
The death occurred in Christchurch on Friday of Mr Albert Hendriksen, who about 40 years ago was one of the leading drivers in NZ.
Mr Hendriksen came into prominence when he brought Albert H (which was named after him) from Blenheim for Mr M Mahar just before the 1912 NZ Cup, which he won. Mr Hendriksen then settled in Canterbury, and he drove many winners, including a number for the late Mr W J Morland.
His winners included Country Belle (NZ Cup), Cardinal Logan, winner of many races and second to Kohara in the Cup, Prince Akwood and Peter Mac (NZ Derby Stakes), Erin's King (National Cup), Sungod (Timaru Cup), Hal Junior (Canterbury Handicap), President Wilson and Nantwitch (Great Northern Derby Stakes), and Hustler (Gore Cup).
Mr Hendriksen was for a time studmaster at Santa Rosa Stud, Halswell, when Truman Direct and Real Guy were there.
Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 9Jun54
1974 DOMINION TROTTING HANDICAP
In 1836 a French whaling boat sailed in and around the bays of Banks Peninsula and dropped anchor at the sight which probably impressed those aboard most...Akaroa. The French whalers stayed for several months and one of them, Francois Le Lievre must have been particularly pleased with what he saw, because a year later he was among 63 passengers on board the Comp de Paris, the first settlers' boat from France.
Francois set about establishing the most successful farm on Banks Peninsula and marrying Rose de Malmanche, who had also arrived on the Comp de Paris. Francois and Rose raised several children, but it was Etienne who inherited his father's love of the land, and it's horses. Etienne, who was born in 1854, was brought up in the days when the horse was mainly the mode of transport. His family regularly travelled the miles to the flatter land of Little River, where at picnic gatherings each farmer would bring his fastest horses to race. Naturally, Etienne followed with interest the progress of trotting in town, Christchurch, which by the turn of the century was going ahead in leaps and bounds.
It was obvious at the time that the early importations from America, the likes of Berlin, Childe Harold, Irvington, Vancleve and Wildwood, and mares like Jeanie Tracey and Woodburn Maid were responsible for considerable improvement in the local breed.
Having inherited the largest and most successful sheep farm on Banks Peninsula some years earlier, Etienne had the resources and time to make some excursions in this field himself, and in 1904 he began the long trip to California in search of quality young horses. In the company of Robert McMillan, a highly respected young American horseman who had been living at Halswell in Christchurch, Etienne returned to New Zealand with a yearling colt by Sydney Dillon, a six-year-old entire called Wallace L and a five-year-old mare in Muriel Madison, while McMillan was credited with purchasing the stallion Mauritius and the mare Miss Youngley.
The colt by Sydney Dillon, the sire of the first 2:00 trotter Lou Dillon (1:58.5), was Harold Dillon, NZ's champion sire for five years between 1916-17 and 1920-21. Harold Dillon sired some 190 winners including the public idol Author Dillon (1918 NZ Cup), as well as Waitaki Girl, John Dillon, Oinako, Sungod and Adonis, all among the best pacers of the day. Well over 200 winners came from Harold Dillon mares including Pot Luck, Parisienne, Glenrossie and Dilworth. Wallace L was only moderately successful at stud while Muriel Madison founded a very successful family, to which over 160 winners trace,including No Response and Koala King. Mauritius was exported to Australia in 1907 and wound up leaving around 120 winners while Miss Youngley was the granddam of 1923 NZ Cup winner Great Hope and is the ancestress of close to 100 winners.
In 1913, Etienne went back to California and purchased a two-year-old colt by Bingen called Nelson Bingen and three young mares, one of which was Berthabell. Stinted almost entirely over the years to Nelson Bingen, the leading sire here for two seasons, Berthabell was to prove one of the most remarkable broodmares in the history of standardbred breeding in NZ, and the founder of one of our largest maternal families. Belita and Belle Bingen were the other mares. Belle Bingen had been bred fron Berthabell in America in 1913, being by Bingen, and had arrived with her dam in 1914. Belle Bingen was crippled on the journey to New Zealand, however, and was put in foal as a two-year-old.
Berthabell had been in foal to The Harvester during the trip but upon returning to Akaroa the resulting foal lived only a few days. Etienne's poor luck was to continue, as in 1916 Berthabell foaled dead twins by Nelson Bingen. Then, the following year, Berthabell produced a colt to Nelson Bingen, the first of eight consecutive foals by the son of Bingen and eight consecutive winners. Worthy Bingen was unsound and very lightly raced as a trotter, starting 13 times over 4 seasons for four wins. Lightly patronised at stud, he sired 33 winners, including the champion trotting mare, Worthy Queen.
Then came the champion Great Bingen. Raced by Sir John McKenzie and Dan Glanville, who bought him from Etienne as a two-year-old for £400, Great Bingen won £14,920, a stakes winning record for several years. In NZ he raced 73 times for 22 wins and 26 placings, while he also contested the Australian Championship, the forerunner to the Inter-Dominions, in Perth in 1926, recording four wins before being just beaten by Taraire in the final. While Great Bingen was the best pacer during the late 1920s, his younger brother Peter Bingen was also acquitting himself well in the tightest class. As a nine-year-old, starting from 48yds, Great Bingen was just beaten by Peter Bingen in the NZ Cup, the first of two wins in the event for Peter Bingen. Peter Bingen raced 87 times for 16 wins and 24 placings, for stakes worth £8629, a little more than half Great Bingen's earnings. Great Bingen later sired 46 winners, including Double Great (1935 NZ Derby) and Taxpayer (1932 Sapling Stakes, NZ Derby), while Peter Bingen sried 45, including top pacers Peter Smith, Double Peter and King's Play.
After them came the fillies Bessie Bingen and Bertha Bingen, who were lightly raced as pacers, each winning twice. Great Peter (eight wins, GN Derby), Baron Bingen (seven wins) and the trotter Great Nelson (five wins) completed the remarkable record of Nelson Bingen and Berthabell. Mated with Guy Parrish, Berthabell left the leading northern pacer Great Parrish, who won 14 races and £3317, taking the 1929 Great Northern Derby and 1932 Auckland Cup. He sired 41 winners. Sent back to Nelson Bingen in 1927, Berthabell left the filly Bell Nelson, who was unraced. The Guy Parrish filly Corona Bell followed, winning once as a trotter.
Travis Axworthy, whom Etienne had imported in 1924 along with Guy Parrish, was the sire of Berthabell's 1930 foal, the colt Ring True. Raced from age three until 11 in the north, Ring True won nine races and £2029, and later sired 46 winners. Ring True had his last start on February 14, 1942, 21 years and one week after the first of Berthabell's progeny, Worthy Bingen, made his debut, finishing third in the 1921 NZ Trotting Stakes at Forbury Park.
The 11 winning progeny of Berthabell had won 94 races and stakes worth £35,335, a figure by today's standards that would run well into the millions.
Credit: Frank Marrion writing in NZ Trot Calendar 11Sep84
Dave Todd, the man who bred and developed Cardigan Bay, world harness racing's first millionaire, doesn't bother to go to the races nowdays. He is 83 and feels his eyesight has slipped too much to enjoy the spectacle. "I like to sit at home and listen to them on the radio though," he said recently when reflecting on his successful lifetime involvement with harness racing.
Dave relinquished his licence to train seven years ago and contents himself in his twilight years with gardening, sea fishing and overseeing the training operations of his grandsons small team at famed Chimes Lodge, Mataura. Stuart and Richard Scott, his two grandsons, share their grandfather's love of standardbreds. But they know only too well that the chances of getting another in the same class as Cardigan Bay are one in a million.
Dave loves nothing better than a bit of trout fishing. In his younger days, he and his mates frequented the productive waters of the Worsley, Upukarora and other peaceful high country rivers. "But I have had to give the trout a miss lately...a cobber dropped in one day and borrowed my rod and tackle and hasn't got round to returning it." Ken Johnson, a good Stewart Island mate, who is a commercial fisherman, has introduced Dave to sea fishing in recent years. That pastime has introduced a new and enjoyable dimension of the outdoors for Dave, a keen deerstalker in his prime and still the proud owner of an outstanding Virginian (white tail) deer head exhibited in his lounge.
Price, racing men often point out, never made a horse. Dave Todd is the first to acknowledge that adage, because Cardigan Bay cost nothing to breed and went on to win more than $1 million in four different countries over nine seasons of competition on the world's major raceways. The old warrior is now content in retirement at Sir Henry Kelliher's Pukututu Island Stud, Auckland.
Dave trained the champion's dam, Colwyn Bay, for Alex Jopp, who farmed at Hindon, 25 miles from Dunedin on the Central Otago branch line. Colwyn Bay won four races but would have graduated to Cup class if not inconvenienced by an injured fetlock and deep seated corns. Jopp didn't want to retire the mare on the Hindon type of country and Dave offered to buy her. Her owner, however, insisted that she be gifted to Dave. A man never looks a gift horse in the mouth and the mare had a new owner.
Dave and his late brother Sandy, who was six years his senior, were close colleagues of George Youngson of Gore, another true blue Scotsman and another of Southland's grand old gentlemen of trotting and a pioneer in breeding. "George and I never charged each other stud fees...we had a reciprocal business arrangement," Dave recalled. "George was keen for me to send a mare to Hal Tryax, who arrived after the stud season was well underway." Colwyn Bay duly conceived to Hal Tryax, the first 2:00 three-year-old imported to New Zealand from America. Cardigan Bay was the result. "So, there's another story - a horse who won a million cost nothing to breed."
Cardigan Bay 'told' Dave literally from the word go that he had a big heart. During an aborted roundup of mares and foals at Chimes Lodge (gates were left open), a couple of mares and foals careered about for a long time. The two mares and one of the foals were easily caught when they became exhausted. But the sturdy Hal Tryax colt further defied efforts to be caught and was as fresh as a daisy some time after. "I knew there and then that he had to have a big heart and the constitution good horses are made of," Dave said. Bill Pearson, the Todd brothers' Gore-based veterinary surgeon, could see no reason why colts should not be gelded before they were weaned. Cardigan Bay was gelded at five months of age when still running with his mother. In hindsight, Dave reckons that early move might have helped to contain and harness the colt's remarkable energy and vigour.
Cardigan Bay wasted no time showing that he had plenty of what it took to make a good horse. He could pace a furlong in 15 seconds and furlongs in 15 seconds by a yearling are not easily kept secret. A big, raw and immature type, he did not mature into a racehorse until a late three-year-old. He was not tried at two. It was simply a matter of 'waiting' on the big horse. In any case the stable had the more mature and precocious 2-year-old Blue Prince, also by Hal Tryax, to fly the flag. Dave and Sandy sold Cardigan Bay to Aucklanders Merv and Audrey Dean for $5,000 and a couple of contingencies after he had won seven races for them. The rest is now history. "Looking back, I wouldn't have sold him then if I had owned him outright, but Sandy, a real Scot, reckoned financial independence was a priceless asset and the money went into paying off the farm mortgage and other commitments.
Dave, born at Bothwell, seven miles from Glasgow, immigrated to NZ with his parents, Sandy and seven sisters when he was 12. He and Sandy rabbited about Central Otago in their teens. Alex McLellan of Invercargill trained their first winner - "a Sungod mare who wasn't much chop. Alex was a fine horseman and I learned so much listening to him, Jim McMurray and Barney Rushton...the younger fellows don't listen much to me, because they think I'm out of date with my thinking," Dave quipped. Dave and Sandy settled on a farmlet at Mataura in 1932. Over the years they bought small adjoining blocks when they came on the market. The farm grew to 180 acres and has since been handed over to the younger members of the family, Peggy and Ron Scott.
Sires they stood at Chimes Lodge included Grattan Loyal and Dillon Hall, "two of the best," Free Fight and Arion Axworthy, who was "no bloody good." Sandy devoted his time to the stud side of the operation and the books and accounts. Dave looked after the training side. Sandy seldom mated a broodmare until there was seed on the grass. Not long before his death 11 years ago, Sandy told the writer that too many stallions were abused by serving too many mares too soon in the colder southern breeding season. "It's the quickest way I know to ruin a sire," Sandy said. Dave and Sandy always claimed that every sire was condemned at some stage of other of his career. A lot of Southland breeders had written off Dillon Hall. That was until Acropolis, one of his sons, beat Plunder Bar in the 1943 NZ Sapling Stakes. "Then the phone just about rang off the bloody wall."
The Todd school was a tough one for horses. There was no holiday camp touch about it. An aspiring racehorse was guilty until it proved itself innocent. Looks and breeding counted for nothing if it could not run and show guts. Dave Todd was twice runner-up on the national premiership - once to Wes Butt and to Cecil Donald the second time. Had Dave not 'lost' a good horse to Jock Bain halfway through one season, he would have won the NZ Premiership. That was one dissappointment in a rewarding and fulfilling career. In the 1950s and 1960s in particular, Dave was ably served by Ken Balloch, a skilled and fearless reinsman who was part and parcel of the successful Chimes Lodge training operation. Fancywords and frills have never been evidenced about Todd and Balloch. Superlatives were not part of the combination's dictionary when it came to praising horses. Cardigan Bay, Blue Prince and Holy Hal were merely 'good' horses and not champions, terrific, great or anything like that.
When Jimmy Tryax won at Wyndham in November 1970, he became the 18th successive horse Todd had acquired from another stable to win first up for him. Dave reckons most of the secret lay in the fact that "half a kerosine tin full of worms" would be taken from a horse with a rigid worming programme, top feeding and a harder workload in training. So many responded immediately to the methods. There was no easy way out in the Todd and Balloch formula for success with horses. A horse had to line up and be counted and a poor one was not persevered with. It took about a fortnight to determine if a horse had a win in it.
When the Todd and Balloch judgement was on the line, the bacon was not always bought home. But it often was. Like the day Dave had a 'decent' bet on Colwyn Bay's nose at Wyndham. She duly obliged and the funds went up on stablemate Maestro, who came home at six to one later in the day. "I got a few hundred quid that day and it all went into the farm," Dave said. When the chips were down, Balloch had few, if any, peers in the south as a reinsman. Some of his contemporaries still like to recall the day at Winton when it was a 'money day' for the Todd runner Lassaloc. The mare was 'fair bolting' inside the last furlong and had nowhere to go. The situation was fast becoming desperate. Lassaloc had a wall of horses in front of her and Ken reckons the situation was getting 'bloody grim'. Then the front line drivers heard a threatening bellow from behind: "Get out of my bloody road or I will come right over the top." Lassaloc just made it and no more.
Dave Todd often regrets that he was before his time in trotting. Many horses are sold for big prices these days and breeding and training horses for sale was always part of the Todd operation. In 1945 he put down an all-weather track at Chimes Lodge. He and Jim Flynn were able to take Southland horses to Auckland in September and win. Twenty five years later, all-weather tracks took Southland harness racing by storm. Dave reckons no other innovation has played a bigger part in the development of Southland's multi million dollar harness racing industry.
Credit: Don Wright writing in NZ Trot Calendar 21Jan86
Freeman (FG) Holmes, who died in Christchurch last week aged 88, apart from being one of NZ's most accomplished and successful horsemen, was an enigma. Many of the old school have insisted he was every bit as gifted a reinsman as his famous brother Maurice. His record leaves no doubt that he was not only a top driver but also an outstanding trainer.
'FG' was a loner; an introvert who shunned publicity and well wishers, and was very selective about who he even spoke to. He was harder to get on with when he'd just won a race than when he had been tipped out from a favourite. Yet catch him in the right moment and he would chat the breeze for as long as you would care to listen - and listening to him could at times be very enlightening and rewarding. Besides breeding, racing, training and driving, he had other pet pursuits, high among them hunting and shooting. He was also, in his early days, a fine athlete.
The writer well recalls as a junior in the racing department of "The Press", Christchurch, in November, 1953, calling on 'FG' at home at West Eyreton a few hours after his NZ Cup win with Adorian, in the hope of getting a feature story to phone through in time to make the next morning's paper. People were phoning to congratulate the family. Freeman refused to be called to the phone. "Don't ask them here," he insisted. "We're not having a party." Trying to get the background to Adorian from him was nigh on impossible. He insisted, with that curious humour of his, that I sang a song before he would tell me anything. When I obliged, instead of telling me about Adorian, he played for me, over and over, a record of an Australian race in which, in a skirmish with top Sydney driver Jack Watts, 'FG' had been tipped out over the rail and quite seriously injured. "He's a bloody good driver, that Jack Watts," said Freeman each time we listened to the incident. I finally got some sort of story from him - which took some working out as he spoke of horses, mares, colts and fillies without bothering about their registered racing names.
'FG' was the first son of the famous Free Holmes to come to prominence. Insofar as NZ horse racing is concerned, the Holmes saga began with Freeman Senior. Born on a farm near Ashburton in 1871, he was, as a rising 12-year-old five-stone stripling, pressed into service, because of a shortage of jockeys, to ride, laden with "ballast," in an Ashburton galloping event - which he duly won. "Old Free" as he ultimately became reverently known to the racing and trotting fraternities in NZ, successfully rode gallopers on the flat, and over jumps, and then became a prominent trainer and owner of thoroughbreds.
Turning his hand to the sister sport of trotting, Free became a leading saddle exponent, driver, trainer, importer and breeder. Race driving until he was 73, Free continued to train, and when well into his 80s was training - and riding to and from Riccarton racecourse from his property nearby - the thoroughbred Tarantella, owned by his then teenage grandson Graham (son of FG), and a winner for them.
Of Free's four sons, first Freeman, then Maurice, then Allan became actively involved as drivers and branched out to become trainers in their own right. Walter stayed at home, assisting with the stud side of Free's activities. 'FG' was a proficient jockey. He was 13 when he won the Apprentice's Plate at Wingatui in February, 1913, and subsequently won several hurdles and flat events. He first drew attention to himself riding saddle winner Law Chimes at the 1916 NZ Cup carnival. Two years later he finished third with Sungod in Author Dillon's NZ Cup.
Freeman's first classic win came in the fourth edition of the Auckland Trotting Club's Great Northern Derby in 1919, driving Lady Swithin for successful Ashburton owner and administrator H F Nicoll, later to become long-time president of the NZ Trotting Conference. In 1921, then aged 22, Freeman drove Sherwood to win the NZ Cup for owner S G Lemon. After a protest alleging interference by Holmes to the previous year's winner, straight-out trotter Reta Peter (whom he beat by two lengths), Sherwood was relegated to second and Holmes was fined £25. The incident was hotly debated for years by many who saw the race. And, when, 32 years later, 'FG' trained and drove his own good horse Adorian to win the 1953 NZ Cup, he seized the opportunity at the presentation to insist again that he should not have been disqualified with Sherwood. "It was unjust," he said.
'FG' drove NZ Sapling Stakes winners Richore (1926), Sonoma Child (1928), Captain Morant (1942)and Forward (1951). He won the NZ-GN Derbies double in 1927 with J Washington's Daphne de Oro, drove J Duffy's Native Chief to win the NZ Free-For-All that year and was the nation's leading reinsman of 1927/28 with 33 wins. He trained Graham Direct to win the 1935 Auckland Trotting Cup for J Westerman (driven by his father, Free) and drove him himself to win the 1938 NZ Trotting Gold Cup at Wellington. He won two further NZ Derbies with Bonny Bridge (1943) and Blue (1958).
Much of the credit for tough NZ-bred gelding Captain Sandy becoming the first two-time Inter-Dominion Grand Champion must go to 'FG'. At the 1950 series in Melbourne, with regular pilot James Bryce junior suspended, FG Holmes filled the breach and from the awkward 24yd mark got him into the final by gaining a fourth and a third in the heats. But Holmes himself was suspended on the third night for alleged interference to swift Melbourne Claude Derby. Jack Watts replaced 'FG' and Captain Sandy won the Grand Final by a head from Globe Direct, trained and driven by Freeman's brother, Maurice. At the same carnival, brother Allan won a Consolation with Congo Song.
At the 1953 Inter-Dominions in Perth, Freeman again did most to get Captain Sandy in the Grand Final, finishing fourth with him the first night and second in fastest time the second night. Committed to drive good NZ mare Blue Mist (with whom he won on the first two nights) in the Grand Final, Freeman had a rocky run with her on the way to finishing fifth. His replacement behind Captain Sandy, West Australian Bob Pollock junior, emerged triumphant.
'FG's 1953 NZ Cup winner Adorian was one of four good winners he and Miss P Norton bred from a very good mare for them, Coquette. Miss Norton and 'Old Free' bred Coquette by Free's importation Grattan Loyal from Bonny Logan, daughter of Free's importations Logan Pointer and Bonilene. Racing from three to ten years, Bonny Logan won 14 races for Free and his principal stable patron W H Norton, then produced nine live foals, eight of them winners. 'FG' raced and trained Coquette for eight wins including the 1942 National Cup. Apart from Adorian, Coquette's only other three foals were top winners for 'FG' in the shape of Vigilant, Morano and Forward.
In a memorable contest for the 1951 Canterbury Park Juvenile Stakes at Addington, 'FG' was skittled and tipped from Forward's sulky at the start, ran with the colt holding on to his reins for some fifty yards, climbed back into the cart, wheeled the field in the last half-mile and won. In 1953, 'FG' drove Brahman, son of the first two NZ-bred 2:00 pacers Gold Bar and Haughty, to an Australasian record 2:02.2 time trial as a two-year-old. In 1957 he drove Blue, trained and part-owned by his brother Allan, to a world yearling record of 2:09.2. Both marks lasted for more than 20 years.
In the 1960's, 'FG' became associated with champion trotter Ordeal. Seven before she won a race, she was handed to him after five wins for Reefton trainer Charlis Murcott. She won two more as a seven-year-old under Holmes. After having a season off to have a mystery foal that was destroyed because the sire was unknown, she returned to racing as a nine-year-old. Her next victories under Freeman were the Worthy Queen-Dominion Handicap double at Addington. She went on to win the 1961 Rowe Cup (driven by Maurice Holmes from 78yds in a national record 4:14), and wound up winning in America.
In later years, Holmes dabbled as an amateur trainer of gallopers, winning with good chaser Hogan. His last racing win came with Delargey at Wingatui in October,1980.
'FGs' sons Freeman ('FL') and the late Graham Holmes followed in the footstep of their father, uncles and grandfather as prominent horsemen, and 'FL' has been associated as part-owner, trainer, driver and now studmaster of a modern-day champion, Noodlum.
'Ribbonwood' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 30May51
If you read about it in a Nat Could or Edgar Wallace racing thriller you wouldn't believe it, which only goes to prove that fiction, after all, is not such a complete stranger to the truth!
It happened at Addington on Saturday (May 26): the race, the Juvenile Handicap, the horse, Forward, and the hero of the piece F G Holmes, trainer-driver of Forward.
When the barriers were released, Centennial Hall swung across and tipped up Forward's sulky on its side, throwing Holmes on to the ground. With the field well on the way, Forward instinctively went after them. Holmes, holding firmly on the reins, was smartly on his feet, and he secured a tenuous hold on Forward's sulky with one hand while holding the reins in the other.
For upwards of 50yds, Holmes was forced to put in some giant strides to keep up with Forward, and he eventually managed to get one foot in the sulky, followed immediately by the other; by the time he was seated safely again the leaders must have been 60yds in front of him; it was a wonder he retrieved the situation with no greater loss of ground.
The majority of the public had not been unaware of the incident, and Holmes was warmly applauded on passing the stands the first time round. Excitement mounted as Forward improved his position and hotly challenged the leaders with two furlongs to go. Wide out, he strode to the front at the distance and won full of running.
It was an astonishing recovery, to say the least. Most of the people who made him hot favourite must have been persuaded that all chance had vanished when Holmes was deposited on the ground at the outset. Presence of mind, a full measure of grit and determination, and an ounce of luck were the main ingredients in perhaps the most dramatic spill and its sequel ever seen at Addington; it at least ranks equal to Indianapolis's win in the Christchurch Handicap at Addington in 1934 with a broken hopple.
Credit: Ron Bisman writing in HRWeekly 4Jun87