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HORSES

 

YEAR: 1964

Caduceus paraded by J D Litten
CADUCEUS

Caduceus, who died at Wyndham last week as a result of an accident, returned from the United States in March, 1963, after virtually circumnavigating the globe and proving himself a champion in all of the four countries in which he raced - his own, Australia, the United States and Canada.

The Calendar, on Caduceus's retirement, claimed for him the following distinctions:-

*The most travelled racehorse the world has ever known. The distance from NZ to the United States of America, on to England and then back here is nearly 27,000 miles alone. Add to this his several trips to Australia - Perth is 6432 miles return, Adelaide 3798, Sydney 2642, Melbourne 2990; and his excursions into Canada from the United States; and how many more thousands of miles did he cover in his home land, from Auckland to Southland?

*The biggest stakewinner, galloper or harness horse, ever bred in NZ or Australia, with a total of $329,937, which is computed in NZ currency as approximately 116,000. [Cardigan Bay may now be slightly ahead on this total.]

*The highest light-harness stakewinner in NZ and Australia with a total of 68,204 10s in these countries.

*The fastest pacer or trotter ever imported into NZ - he had a mile record of 1.57 3-5 against time when he left NZ, and a race record of 1.57 2-5 when he arrived back. [Arania, 1.57, returned to NZ later]

*The holder of three NZ records: the mile, 1.57 3-5 established in 1959 [since lowered by Cardigan Bay to 1.56 1-5]; the mile and a quarter, 2.31 4-5 (1960), and the mile and a half, 3.04 2-5 (1955).

*"The mightiest pacer ever to hit these shores"- a tribute paid him by a leading USA publicity man on the eve of Caduceus's return to NZ.

Caduceus, trained by J D Litten, won the NZ Derby, NZ Champion Stakes, NZ Futurity Stakes and was the champion 3-year-old of his season. At four years he won the All Aged Stakes, the Metropolitan Challenge Stakes and Auckland Cup. At five years he won the Sydney Lord Mayor's Cup and a Harold Park free-for-all; and back in NZ he won under free-for-all conditions over a mile and a half in the world record figures of 3.04 2-5 from a standing start, which still stands. Caduceus finished a close second - beaten a head by False Step - in the NZ Cup of 1958. He finished third in 1959 to False Step and Gentry; and third in 1956 to Thunder and Laureldale.

At seven years Caduceus entered the 2.00 list for the first time, and at nine years he created new Dominion and Australian figures by running one mile against time at Addington in 1.57 3-5; he returned 2.31 4-5 for one mile and a quarter (still a world record from a standing start), and his phenomenal success in the Grand Final of the 1960 series of the Inter-Dominion Championship at Harold Park, Sydney, remains indelibly impressed. It was his sixth consecutive appearance at the Championships.

At nine years Caduceus not only retained all his zest for racing and work, but he had actually achieved the impossible by improving! The Yonkers promoters were quick to recognise this, and soon the ruling light-harness monarch abdicated his Australasian throne to invade the citadel of trotting - America! A crowd of 14,000, the largest Easter attendance for some years, packed round the birdcage and rails at Addington when Caduceus, the Moore Bros., and J D Litten, on the eve of their departure for America, were given a farewell by the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club in April, 1960.

Caduceus competed against all the American champions - Adios Butler, Bye Bye Byrd, Bullet Hanover and Irvin Paul included - and he won no fewer than nine races in the United States and Canada. "Caduceus impressed American horsemen not only with his gameness and stamina, but also with his speed at an unfamiliar distance, one mile. Not only was he clocked at the age of 12 in 1.57 2-5 under race conditions at Santa Anita, but he raced the best American pacers, including Adios Butler and Widower Creed, as well as 'Down Under toughie' False Step." declared a Yonkers spokeman. "Caduceus is held in great esteem at home, discounting the old 'saw' that no one is a hero in his own backyard," concluded the Yonkers tribute.

Caduceus raced for ten seasons and won 55 races. He remained incurably light-hearted wherever he went, the eternal youth. He was feted and fanfared on radio, motion picture and television - even banquetted in carpeted, chandeliered New York dining halls! He became a drawcard wherever he appeared in the United States. He was called the "Mighty Atom" here and the "David among the Goliaths" in America. He was only 14.1 hands when registered as a 2-year-old and was always a valiant "pocket edition."

His globe trotting apparently affected him little. He continued to look forward to every day with relish. It was, unfortunately, his seemingly endless supply of energy and exuberance that contributed to his untimely death: the injuries from which he died were the result of his rearing up on his hind legs and crashing down on his chest on a concrete post. Caduceus did his first full stud season on the property of his owners, Messrs D D and D R Moore, Templeton, Canterbury, last season, and he served over 40 mares. He had just started the current season in Southland last week and had covered only one mare.

-o0o-

Ron Jenkins: Great Trotters

Bred in NZ in 1950, Caduceus was a pony-sized pacer nick-named the 'mighty atom'. He amassed more than $320,000 in prizemoney in NZ, Australia, America and Canada.

Caduceus did not race in Australia until he was a 5-year-old and in 1956 he won the first of two Lord Mayor's Cups. He was again successful in this race in 1957 and, in addition, won the 1959 Summer Cup at Harold Park. These three successes were all of the 36 yard handicap. His time of 3:30 in the 13 furlong 98 yard Summer Cup at a fast 2:05 rate created a track record which stood for nearly 10 years until bettered by Halwes when he rated 2:04 1/5 in 1968.

At one time Caduceus held track records at Harold Park, Melbourne, Wayville, Gloucester Park and Addington. His Addington mile rate of 2:02 4/5 over 1 1/2 miles was a world record. Caduceus recorded many sub two-minute times, his fastest being 1:57 2/5 in America.

Caduceus had contested six Inter-Dominions when he competed in the Sydney series in February, 1960, as a 9-year-old. A record crowd of 50,346 attended the final and to their delight saw the gallant New Zealander, from the back mark of 36 yards, get up to defeat Apmat (12 yards). After this win Caduceus was invited to compete in America. In typical American promotion Caduceus was feted during his stay in the US from dining with celebrities in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel to a rousing farewell upon his retirement.

When he returned to NZ in 1962, Caduceus stood at stud and sired the two good Harold Park performers, Born To Trot and Royal Society. Unfortunately, Caduceus injured himself in a paddock and as a precaution a veterinary surgeon was called. An injection was given but Caduceus proved allergic to it and died within hours.

Caduceus was the winner of 82 races in 10 seasons of racing.

Credit: 'Ribbonwood' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 21Oct64

 

YEAR: 1987

Jack Litten with Caduceus and Our Roger
JACK LITTEN

Jack Litten, whose colourful career in harness racing concluded with his death aged 81 in Christchurch last week, had many attributes. These included a sharp wit and a keen sense of humour. Several notable incidents in his life showed him also to be a man of principle.

Litten, as will be reiterated to eternity, "made" many top horses. He will best be remembered, of course, for Caduceus, that little bombshell he nicknamed "Charlie" because he stood in front with his feet turned out, a la Chaplin.

With Caduceus in 1960, Litten became the first "Down Under" representative in international competition in America - programmed by Yonkers Raceway, New York. Fourth in the first race of the $150,000 three-leg series, and third in the second leg, Caduceus dead-heated for first with Canadian rep. Champ Volo in the final leg, only to be disqualified from that placing after an inquiry into interference allegedly caused by Jack by crossing over too acutely in the early rush. Litten accepted the decision with a grace that made him forever and a day 1-1 favourite with his American hosts. Caduceus had also proven his point and endeared himself to harness racing buffs in what was to be his new home. Pushing his career record to 53 wins and earning $329,937 - in those days a record for a horse bred in Australasia - Caduceus sparked an American demand for NZ standardbreds that has since proved the life-blood of our sport.

The two other most outstanding horses made by Litten - who made a belated entry into the sport after early experience with the famous Button family and their horses at New Brighton followed by some years as a bush-whacker - were Vedette and False Step.

Moulding Vedette into great shape for Christchurch breeder Charlie Johnston and his racing partner Mick Jenkins, Litten gained four wins, five seconds and three thirds with him in his first campaign as a 4-year-old in 1949-50. Knowing Vedette to be a budding topliner, but disturbed by the things Johnston was telling him to do with the gelding, Litten came in after finishing third with him when hot favourite at Hutt Park in February, 1950, and told Johnston he wanted nothing more to do with him, and he could take the horse away. Top horseman Maurice Holmes "inherited" Vedette, who wound up winning 19 races including the 1951 Inter-Dominion Grand Final at Addington and 27,710 - a national record, racing or trotting.

Litten educated and trained False Step for 18 wins before owner Jim Smyth complained about Jack appointing Bob Young to drive him at the 1957 Auckland Cup meeting. Litten had been suspended, along with contemporary Cecil Devine, from driving for six months for their infamous whip-slashing duel in a mobile free-for-all at the 1957 NZ Cup carnival. Unplaced in th Auckland Cup, False Step had finished third and fourth in the other tight-class races at the Alexandra Park meeting. Litten would not be shaken in his faith in Bob Young. Again it was a case of Litten letting go a top horse to stand on his rights. False Step, handed on to Devine, went on to win three NZ Cups, came within a whisker of an Inter-Dominion Grand Final win at Addington and also starred in America.

Litten possessed great humility. Whilst nobody doubted his educating and conditioning skills, he was often criticised for his driving - and just as often announced to those around him that he knew he was "no Maurice Holmes." Yet when Caduceus won that epic encounter over Australia's Apmat in the 1960 Inter-Dominion Grand Final in Sydney to the roars of a sardine-tight crowd of 50,346 (where have they gone to today?!), it was with Litten at the helm in Caduceus' sixth Inter-Dominion attempt. He had been piloted in earlier unsuccessful bids by such top flight reinsmen as Australia's Frank Kersley and Jack Watts and NZ's Doug Watts.

The writer first met Jack Litten in the flesh immediately after he had won the 1951 NZ Derby with his own great pacer Fallacy. A green 18-year-old cadet in the racing room of "The Press" in Christchurch, I was asked to do a leader-page feature on the Derby winner for the following day's edition. Jack was so helpful that the article earned me a letter of commendation from the chief reporter of the time, the late Charlie Powell, from whom praise to the lowly such as I was almost never elicited.

I found Jack no less helpful for the rest of his life - to the day, only a few weeks ago, when, with Fred Freeman, I went to get for the "Weekly" a few lines from him and a photo to go with them (and to see him, of course) as he lay waiting for it all to end in Princess Margaret Hospital. Even then the sense of humour had diminished not a fraction. Suffered gangrene of the lower legs, doped to the eyeballs to allay the pain, and his feet encased in fleece-lined hug-boots up to his shins, he told us: "I think I'll get a patent out for these shoes - I think you could win a race or two with them."

Finally, a story from Jack that will live for all time: The approach to him on the eve of his 1960 Inter-Dominion Grand Final win with Caduceus. The mystery caller to his hotel room in Sydney said it was "worth the stake to get beaten with Caduceus in the Final." Jack informed the briber: "No business. One or two of my friends in NZ have put a on his horse, and I would hate to let then down; and I would hate to let the horse down." I can close my eyes and picture Jack, as cool as a cucumber, saying exactly that.

-o0o-

(Article by Frank Marrion writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 19Jun84)

The Jack Litten story began in February of 1906.

Born John Duncan Litten at Little River, he has been known as Jack for as long as he can remember. He was one of six children. As is so often the case, it was Jack's father James who was to introduce him to the world of horse racing. His earliest recollection of the sport, "I think I was about six", was attending a local meeting at Motukarara to see his father's horse Wai Rakau race. Wai Rakau was no more than a passing interest for James Litten, leasing him at an advanced age, but he had some success.

His father owned a team of bullocks, and more often than not this was the mode of transport for the Litten family. Jack easily recalls the occasion his family moved to Burwood. "We drove them all the way from Little River to Burwood. It was quite a spectacle," he said. His father had been employed to haul timber from the felled Burwood tea gardens, a well known land mark in those days, to the sawmill. It took about 18 months to complete the job, and then the Littens went into the saw milling business themselves. It was soon after shifting to Burwood that Jack remembers getting "hooked" on trotting. He would quite often attend meetings at the nearby New Brighton racecourse and there were a number of horses being trained in the area. "I remember a horse called Sunrise winning at New Brighton one day. It made quite an impression on me," he said.

When about ten years old, Jack began working with horses at the nearby stable of Miss Isabel Button. "Bella" Button was something of a celebrity in those years, through her exploits with show horses and racehorses. "She was a wonderful horsewoman, a great side-saddle rider," Jack recalls. However after a few years Miss Button was tragically killed in a freak accident. The accident occurred the day before they were due to take a team of horses to a Dunedin Royal Show. "I was to have ridden a horse called Patience at the show, but that day Miss Button said she would ride him. She was sitting on top of him when he threw his head back. It stunned her and she fell off backwards and broke her neck," said Jack. "The funeral was quite an event of the day. She must have requested to be carried to the service by horses. There were three each side," he added.

Jack competed at many shows and among his rivals was none other than Bill Doyle. They were the same age. He was also involved with a number of trotting trainers in those days at Burwood, among them the leading New Brighton horseman "Manny" Edwards. "It was tough then. The trotters were always rather shortly bred, being out of variously bred mares. They were rough going things. You really had to work at making a racehorse. Not like nowdays. You can just about qualify any horse as long as it has four legs," said Jack.

When the depression arrived, the first people to feel the effects were those involved in the building industry. Jack could see there was no future in sawmilling and began making ends meet by breaking in young horses. In the 1920s the family moved to Addington. Jack worked his horses at Addington and became good friends with the top horseman Vic Alborn. Alborn's home, directly opposite the main entrance to Addington on Lincoln Road, is now dilapidated and surrounded by barbed wire, being occupied by "bikies".

In 1931, Jack made his first venture into standardbred breeding, securing the Logan Pointer mare Logan Lass at an advanced age and mating her with Native King (Dominion Handicap). Jack named the resulting filly Royal Romance and she was to give him immense pleasure. At her third four-year-old start, Royal Romance won at New Brighton in December of 1935 by six and 15 lengths. She was officially trained by Morrie Holmes, but Jack was doing all the work with her. Royal Romance continued to win races for Jack in following seasons but as a seven-year-old he sold her to Alborn. "I was ofered a bit of land next to our place and I badly wanted it. I sold her to Vic on the understanding that I could have her back as a broodmare, though," said Jack. Royal Romance won the 1939 Dominion Handicap for Alborn and retired the winner of 10 races. She left a couple of minor winners for him, while one of her daughters, Sure Romance, produced Royal Mile (NZ Trotting Stakes)and another in Royal Triumph left the Cup class pacer Junior Royal and a fine broodmare in Vignon, although Jack did not breed those foals fron Royal Triumph.

In 1939, Jack also bought the aged mare Diversion for 70 from Billy Morland, of Country Belle fame. Diversion had already won races and was to credit Jack with his first success as a trainer-driver in December of 1939 at Wesport. Jack has fond memories of the trip. It was his first race day drive. "I went over there with Bob Young, through the Lewis Pass when it was just being completed," he said. Later that season Jack was approached a Addington one morning by Alborn, who was interested in buying Diversion. Another friend, Clarrie Rhodes, overheard the conversation and also wanted to buy her. "Clarrie ended up with her, but under the same understanding that I would get her back for breeding," said Jack. But Clarrie wasn't so keen on that idea, and Jack agreed to take alternative foals from the beautifully bred mare. Diversion's second foal for Clarrie was the Light Brigade colt His Majesty, while Jack sent her back to the champion sire the next year and she again produced a colt, which he named Fallacy. In his debut as a three-year-old at Ashburton, Fallacy won the Second Eiffleton Handicap, beating His Majesty. Fallacy went on to sweep all before him that year, winning seven of his ten starts including the 1951 NZ Derby in 12 lengths in record time.

In 1940 he married his wife Iris. "I used to see him running to catch the trams," Iris recalls. Jack had moved to his present property in 1945 and left him almost penniless. There was just a little farmer's cottage and the bare land," Jack recalls. "We had a lot of work to do for a couple of years," he added. The property, which was already called Preston Farm, was soon being knocked into shape however. A five furlong track was laid, which would have few equals even to this day. With lengthy straights and perfectly curved bends, it served the purpose of getting young horses 'organised' admirably.

Jack didn't have much time for training horses, but luckily success came quickly. The first 'outside' horse to arrive at Preston Farm was a youngster by Gold Bar. "Allan Holmes dropped him off soon after we settled in one day. There weren't any stables, he just tied him to a tree," said Jack. The youngster was a colt called Congo Song and Jack produced him as a juvenile in 1947 on three occasions for two placings including a second in the Sapling Stakes. The following season Congo Song finished second at Addington in August, and had made such a suitable impression that even as a maiden he was considered the favourite for feature 3-year-old events at NZ Cup time. However, less than a week before the big meeting, Jack was injured on an incident on the track at home and was unable to continue training Congo Song. Allan Holmes took him home and won the Riccarton Stakes on Cup Day, the Derby on Show Day and the Metropolitan Challenge Stakes on the third day, starting favourite on each occasion. Jack was not credited with training Congo Song in those events, but Holmes gave him his percentage. Iris remembers the occasion well. "Allan wandered into the kitchen and put 50 in my hand. I had never seen so much money in all my life," she said.

The following season Jack produced another promising juvenile in Preston. Part-owned by him, Preston was placed at two and won twice as a 3-year-old, but later broke down. There were many other training successes for Jack in the early years of Preston Farm, about 30 by 1950, but it was Fallacy who really sent him on his way. Tragically, at the beginning of his 4-year-old campaign, Fallacy dammaged his back in an accident in training. "We tried to patch him up, but he was never the same," said Jack. Retired to stud, Fallacy was to initially suffer the fate of many locally bred horses. That was a crippling shortage of mares, and any quality. "I remember Allan Matson coming out one time when Fallacy had just begun his stud career. He had a browse at the mares Fallacy was serving and said he would never leave a winner," said Jack. The first foal born by him was False Step and the following year he produced Dignus (NSW Derby).

Fallacy went on to become one of the most successful New Zealand-bred stallions ever, also siring True Averil (NZ Cup), Junior Royal, Falsehood, Allakasam, Rain Again, Happy Ending, Kotare Legend, Doctor Dan, Doctor Barry and Individual among his 240 winners. He is now a leading broodmare sire, with around 360 winners and 30 in 2:00 to date, including Hands Down, Graikos (1:56.6PL), Royal Ascot, Mighty Me, Shavid Skipper (US1:55f) and Whispering Campaign among his credits. "He was foaled right outside the kitchen window and is buried there as well," said Jack.

Fallacy's outstanding 3-year-old form was only the beginning, however. That season, 1951/52, he prepared 17 winners and entered the 'top ten' in the trainer's premiership for the first time. That was a position he was to maintain for the next decade, winning the premiership in the 1959/60 season.

In the early 1950s, Jack had also been educating a couple of promising geldings in he shape of Our Roger and Vedette. He won races with Vedette as a 4-year-old, but that son of Light Brigade was to be passed on to Morrie Holmes, who won the 1953 Inter-Dominion Final at Addington with him. Holmes has always maintained that Vedette was the best horse he ever sat behind. Our Roger was to win a New Zealand Cup in 1955 under Jack's guidance, but there was still so much more to come.

Early in 1952, a diminutive U Scott colt had arrived at Preston Farm to be educated. This youngster looked far from inspiring, he stood in such a way that he was soon being called Charlie, after the legendary comedian of earlier years. But he was a blood brother to Highland Fling, so Jack needed little encouragement to let him show his paces. Caduceus, was originally the name of the rod carried by Mercury, the messenger of the gods, but to the trotting world he was to be known as the 'Mighty Atom'.

Jack found that the U Scott colt had ample speed in his early education, and as a juvenile he was registered and made his debut in the Timaru Nursery Stakes. However, he attracted little attention in finishing down the track and was put aside to develop. Caduceus had his first 3-year-old start at Nelson in October, 1953, and in Jack's hands won by three lengths. He was on his way. He won again on the second day of that meeting and went on to take the NZ Derby and the Champion Stakes and Futurity Stakes at Ashburton.

As a 4-year-old, Caduceus again won six races, including the All Age Stakes at Ashburton in October from 30 yards, beating Tactician (60 yards), Johnny Globe (60) and Young Charles (60), the NZ Metropolitan Challenge Stakes at Addington on Show Day, the Auckland Cup, and a heat of the Inter-Dominions at Alexandra Park. His Auckland win came on the first day of the Championships, with Jack also handling Our Roger to win the other heat. Caduceus finished third on the second day to easily qualify for the 10,000 final, but that event was to be the beginning of a long and frustrating search for Inter-Dominion honours that would end after no less than six attempts. Handled by Doug Watts, Caduceus set all the pace but broke for no reason when in front 100 yards from the finish. "It was just one of those things," said Jack. It was a dramatic contest, Tactician and Morrie McTigue holding off the gallant back-marker Johnny Globe to win by a head.

That season Jack also produced the first of Fallacy's progeny in False Step, winning the Methven Stakes with him before running second in the Sapling Stakes. Caduceus could win only one race in NZ as a 5-year-old, but False Step and Our Roger more than made up for that. At the NZ Cup meeting, Our Roger won the Cup in the hands of Doug Watts and False Step won the Derby by a head over the fine filly Glint, recording 3:12 3/5 for the mile and a half, which was 2/5 of a second outside Fallacy's race and NZ record. Caduceus had enjoyed no luck in the running of the Cup, but straight after False Step's Derby, came out and won the Ollivier Free-For-All by six lengths over Rupee and Johnny Globe, recording a brilliant 3:04 2/5 for the mile and a half from a standing start. "That was one of his best efforts," recalls Jack. False Step won three of his remaining four starts that term, including the Champion and Futurity Stakes at Ashburton, emulating the feat of Caduceus two years earlier.

Caduceus was in the meantime in Sydney for the Inter-Dominions, but in the care of Jack Watts had to be content with two placings in the heats and a third in the Final to Gentleman John, finishing a little over a length from the winner after starting from 36 yards. However, soon after he trounced a similar field in the Lord Mayor's Cup at Harold Park.

The next season Caduceus won the Ashburton Flying Stakes, beating False Step, but was no match for Ces Devine's rugged stayer Thunder in the NZ Cup. Jack won later in the day with False Step, the first of three successive wins at the meeting. Caduceus won the mile and a quarter Express Handicap from 30 yards on the second day and downed Johnny Globe in the NZ Free-For-All on the third day to wrap up the Cup Meeting, which was run over four days that year. A fortnight later the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club held a Summer Meeting and, after finishing second to Ces Devine and Captain Sandy in the NZ Pacing Championship, Caduceus won the last race, the mile and a quarter Shirley Sprint, by six lengths from 36 yards. False Step and Our Roger were unplaced in each event, but it was indeed a formidable bracket.

At Easter that season, Tactician beat False Step by a nose in the mobile mile Rattray Stakes in 1:59 4/5, the first occasion 2:00 had been bettered in a race in Australasia. On the second day False Step downed Tactician under free-for-all conditions and Jack also handled the smart Fallacy 3-year-old Dignus to win. Meanwhile, Caduceus had been in Perth for his third Inter-Dominion under the guidance of Frank Kersley. A free-for-all win at Gloucester Park elevated him into favouritism for the final, but it was obvious even a horse of his undoubted quality was going to be hard pressed from the backmark. Starting from 36 yards in the series, Caduceus was the equal top points scorer with eventual winner Radiant Venture after two wins and a second in the heats, but had to settle for fourth in the final, run in front of over 30,000 people.

The next season the NZ Cup proved a showcase for Clarrie Rhodes' brilliant 4-year-old Lookaway, who was out by five lengths at the finish over Thunder, with Jack and False Step fourth and Caduceus unplaced from 30 yards. Caduceus was placed on the second and third days of the meeting but really came into his own on the final day, winning both feature events, the NZ Pacing Championship and the mobile mile NZ Flying Stakes by five lengths in 2:00. On each occasion Jack was second with False Step. While Caduceus sped away with the Flying Stakes, Jack and Ces Devine (Don Hall) staged their infamous 'whip lashing' battle. "It was just one of those things that happened in the heat of the moment. They do it all the time in rugby, but because it happened in trotting, it was all blown up," said Jack. Both Jack and Devine were suspended for six months.

Caduceus was handled at the meeting by the young Australian Tony Vassallo, who often handled the stable runners during a two year working holiday with the Littens. Vassallo, who was originally from Malta, had met Jack through his good friends in Australia, the Kersley family. Caduceus and False Step then travelled to Auckland for an unsuccessful bid on the Auckland Cup, Bob Young being engaged to drive False Step, with Vassallo handling Caduceus. Although placed, False Step raced below his best and owner Jim Smyth returned home in a somewhat disillusioned state, insisting that Young had "driven for another horse". Everybody knew that Bob Young was a man of principle, and so was Jack "Take him away. Not tomorrow, today," were Jack's sentiments.

Of course it is now history that 11 months later Caduceus and Jack gave the NZ Cup their best shot, and were beaten a head by False Step and Ces Devine, the first of their three successive wins in our most prestigious event. In between times, Vassallo and Caduceus were in Adelaide for another Inter-Dominion, but after a simple defeat of most Inter hopefuls at Wayville, their luck was all bad. Caduceus finished fifth on the first night and pulled up sore. He returned to NZ without racing again. False Step was also in Adelaide that year, with the Kersleys, but after a second night heat win was unable to make any immpression in the Final, won narrowly by the local horse Free Hallover the bonny mare, Sibelia and Jack Watts.

When the 1958 NZ Cup meeting rolled around, Caduceus and False Step were arch rivals (at least in the eyes of the public) instead of stablemates, and predictably the champion pacers dominated proceedings. In the Cup, False Step started from the front and Caduceus from 30 yards, and after neither had enjoyed any luck in the running, they drew clear to fight out a desperate finish over the closing stages. As was so often the case, the predominantly black colours of Litten and Devineflashed across the line together, with False Step in front by a head. Caduceus won his second Ollivier Handicap, from 48 yards, on the second day, with False Step unplaced, and then they shared the honours on the second day of the meeting. False Step (30 yards) won the two mile NZ Pacing Championship over Caduceus (48) in 4:11 1/5, while Caduceus was clearly the better sprinter in the NZ Free-For-All later in the day.

The Inter-Dominions were in Melbourne that season and Caduceus took his tally of heat wins to six when unbeaten on the first three nights in the hands of Frank Kersley, much to the delight of the big crowds which turned up at the Melbourne Showgrounds. By now long overdue to win the title, Caduceus received a shocking run and flashed home late for fifth. There were thoughts of retiring him. But Caduceus returned as a 9-year-old and produced magnificent form, winning six of his nine outings here, and at last, that Inter-Dominion.

Wins in the Ashburton Flying Stakes and Hannon Memorial led to another NZ Cup meeting, but a 48 yard handicap and a trained to the minute False Step (24) saw him a well beaten third in the Cup, Devine winning by eight lengths over Gentry that year. Thunder and a youthful Derek Jones did little to help his cause, attacking him hard once Caduceus reached the lead. Sharing the back mark of 48 yards in the Ollivier on the second day, False Step was again an easy winner over Caduceus, but the Mighty Atom took his revenge later in the day, winning his third NZ Free-For-All. Driven by stablehand Ray Morris, Caduceus won the Allan Matson Handicap from 48 yards on the third day in a near record 3:21 3/5 by three lengths. In that event, False Step had faltered soon after the start, gone down on his knees and broken a front carrier strap. With a hopple daggling around his legs, he bolted for three furlongs before choking and collapsing on the track. False Step suffered no serious physical injuries, but was often fractious at the start from that point. On the final day of the meeting, Caduceus went against time in an effort to better Highland Fling's mile record of 1:57 4/5, and earned 500 in clocking 1:57 3/5. At Addington on January 2, Caduceus set another record when he won the appropriately named mile and a quarter Au Revoir Handicap from 66 yards in 2:31 4/5. It was to be his last start in NZ.

He was set one more task, the Inter-Dominion in Sydney. Cheered on by an amazing 50,000 plus crowd, Jack got Caduceus home in the Final by half a length over Apmat, survived a protest and tasted the success. Jack has always played himself down as a reinsman, but he had worked the oracle where others had failed. The Inter-Dominions that year were a chapter in themselves, but needless to say it was 'J D' and Caduceus' crowning glory. On hand to see Caduceus take his 46th win (28 in NZ) and his earnings to a record 68,000, were Yonkers Raceway president Martin Tananbaum, publicity director Irvin Rudd and secretary Ted Gibbons. Prompted by Noel Simpson, they had made tentative arrangements for a three race International Pace series in New York, and needed the Down Under stars. "Marty approached me soon after the final, but I told him I wasn't very interested. But he asked me if I would meet him for breakfast. I'd never been invited to breakfast before so I agreed," Jack recalls. Jack explained to Tananbaum that he simply couldn't afford to make the trip, but the American was to make him an offer he couldn't refuse. "In the year I was lucky enough to be leading trainer, my accountant told me the only money I made was from the sheep. And I didn't have many sheep," said Jack.

Farewelled at Addington in April, Jack and Caduceus arrived in New York, only to find Tananbaum was too ill to complete his arrangements. "I never even saw Marty on that trip," said Jack. But it wasn't long before he was approached by another Yonkers official. "The Americans always honoured their word. I can't speak too highly of them." Caduceus and Jack were celebrities in New York, appearing on television and doing radio interviews. After placings to Widower Creed and Bye Bye Byrd in the opening legs of the series. Caduceus deadheated for first with the Canadian representative Champ Volo in the final race, only to be relegated for interference. Taken over by a New York stable and Billy Houghton, Caduceus continued to race boldly for a couple of years, endearing himself to the American public. Seemingly racing against horses twice his size and half his age, he took his earnings to around $US320,000, a record for a standardbred or thoroughbred bred in Australasia, and paced the fastest mile of his illustrious career as a 12-year-old, 1:57.4 in California. Caduceus eventually returned to Southland for a stud career, but died after only one season from a haemorrhage, the result of a chest injury.

Jack returned to NZ and began 'scaling down' his training activities, preparing horses on a more personal basis. In 1964, he trained his fourth NZ Derby winner with Doctor Barry, while in 1972 Black Miller credited him with his fourth NZ Trotting Stakes win, following on from General Lee (1952), Royal Mile (1955) and Highland Glen (1956). He also dabbled in the thoroughbred world and struck up a friendship with world renowned Irish horseman Vincent O'Brien. David O'Brien, who trained the winner of the recent English Derby, beating his father's horse, was a guest at the Litten household in his younger days. Vincent O'Brien was instrumental in Jack importing the Irish stallion Aristoi to NZ.

There have been numerous talented performers produced by Preston Farm since the golden era of the 1950s, the likes of Westland King, Bravine, Peerswick, Harlequin Parade and Junior Royal, and the West Melton establishment is far from finished yet. One of Jack and Iris's four daughters, Jackie, married Robin Butt in the mid 1960s, and the Butt winners have continued to flow at a regular rate in recent years. Robin and Jackie's son, David, has proved himself a highly competent young horseman also during the present season. David has his ambitions for the standardbred world, and presently Jack's old shearing shed is being converted into a separate stable.

Jack has no intention of severing his life long love entirely. His offsider in recent years, the very capable Brian Kerr, will continue his training activities from a stable on an adjacent property of Jack's, and prepare the handful of youngsters Jack has bred in recent years. One of those is the appropriately named juvenile trotter Borrowed Time, a son of Game Pride and the Fallacy mare White Plains. He has revealed exceptional ability in his brief career, but has enjoyed little luck on raceday. White Plains is also the dam of a yearling filly by Plat Du Jour, and Jack's admiration for the standardbred is most evident as he describes her capabilities. "I saw her trotting full steam over the paddock the other day. They still send a shiver down the spine," he said.

As he casually strolls the impressive surroundings of Preston Farm, the admiration of family and friends is also not hard to gauge. "Hello there boss," says a passer-by. And as usual, Jack is only too happy to pass the time of day. "Giving them corns in their ears," as he often says.



Credit: Ron Bisman writing in HRWeekly 9Dec06

 

YEAR: 1953

1953 NZ DERBY STAKES

Caduceus caught Santa Amada inside the final furlong of the New Zealand Derby stakes and outstayed her by a length. Caduceus who started from the second row, threaded his way through to be sixth at the end of a quarter, and he was always well placed and travelling confidently after that.

Caduceus is not a big colt, but he is well built and shows plenty of quality. He is by U Scott from Little Ada and is therefore a full-brother in blood to Highland Fling and Highland Kilt. Queen Ayesha, the dam of these two great horses, is by Frank Worthy from Royal Empress, and Little Ada is a full-sister to Queen Ayesha. Caduceus was bred by his owners Messrs Moore Bros., of Wellington, who bought the dam , Little Ada, at the 1949 National Sales at Addington for 260gns.

Santa Amada excelled herself in hanging on for a close second after being in front for more than a mile and three furlongs. Bounden Duty, always one of the first three or four, was right up third, just shading the unlucky favourite, Scottish Brigade. Scottish Brigade was in difficulties throughout. He put in a slight break at the start, and he narrowly averted disaster when Sure King broke with little more than half a mile to go and brought down Notary. Scottish Brigade at that stage was fully eight lengths behind the leader. He made up half of this leeway with a quarter to go and looked like getting a clear run on the outer entering the straight. His driver, however, elected to try for an opening on the inner, and this sealed his doom. He finished full of running without ever finding an opening.

Brahman again took no part, and Buccaneer broke at the start. Buccaneer showed fine speed to reach fourth position with a round to go, but he was forced wide out and was a tired horse in fifth place at the finish. Bobby Brigade drifted in the first quarter. He finished sixth.

Caduceus put up the fast time of 3:13 2-5, which has been bettered only once in the Derby - by Fallacy, who put up the three-year-old Dominion record of 3:12 1-5 in winning in 1951. Like Fallacy, Caduceus is trained and driven by J D Litten, of West Melton. Litten turned Caduceus out in great order and his handling of the colt was masterful.



Credit: 'Ribbonwood'writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 25N0v53

 

YEAR: 1955

Doug Watts, Owner Bill Newton & Trainer Jack Litten
1955 NZ TROTTING CUP

In 1914 the late Mr Etienne Le Lievre imported to New Zealand the American mare, Berthabell, and installed her as the grand dame of his already select "Oinako" stud at Akaroa. Berthabell proved a prolific broodmare. In the 1930's Mr Le Lievre gave Bertha Parrish, one of Berthabell's last foals to his son-in-law, Mr W A Newton, now the mayor of Akaroa.

Mr Newton mated Bertha Parrish with the imported Lusty Volo to produce Sea Gypsy. As a six-year-old the unraced Sea Gypsy produced her first foal, Our Roger, to Dillon Hall. Our Roger showed ability right from the start, but early in his career was considered a "write-off" when he developed a wind afflection. He recovered completely following an operation, won his way to the best class, and at Addington produced a grand display of stamina and determination to wine the 1955 New Zealand Cup from Rupee, Excelsa and Thelma Globe. It was Our Roger's day, he took all the honours.

Third out of the barrier, Our Roger was always in the first half dozen, and he clung to the rails for most of the journey. D C Watts was content to keep him in this handy position until rounding the home turn, where he moved up to share second placing with his stablemate, Caduceus, just behind the joint leaders, Rupee and Excelsa. Our Roger was abreast with Rupee and Excelsa at the furlong, and it was obvious that all three were tired horses. First, Rupee took Excelsa's measure, and looked likely to win, but Our Roger, under a vigorous drive, was not to be denied, and he gradually wore down J. Grice's six-year-old to win going away by two lengths. He paced his two miles in 4:12.2 - time which had previously been bettered by only nine horses in the history of the sport in New Zealand. Our Roger enjoyed one of the best positions in the running, but D C Watts was not without his anxious moments. The gelding had difficulty in working clear, and actually clipped the wheel of Rupee's sulky on the home turn. With less luck, he could have met his undoing at that stage.

The only excuse that could be offered for Rupee is that he pulled a punctured tyre from the home turn; but it is most unlikely that that would have any bearing on the result. He began brilliantly from the limit, and in the first few strides was two lengths clear. When Exselsa took over with one mile and a half to run, he received a perfect trail, which he enjoyed to the home turn. Driver D J Townley said after the race that when he pulled Rupee clear in the straight he considered he had Excelsa well covered, but knew the one to beat was going to be Our Roger. "I still though that Rupee would outstay him; but on the day Our Roger was the better horse," he said. Rupee finished one and a half lengths clear of Excelsa, who was far from disgraced. She made her best beginning for a long time, and set a true pace for the mile and a half. She did not give in until well into the straight and battled on gamely to the end.

If there are to be any excuses made, they are perhaps deserved by the grand mare, Thelma Globe, who, in finishing fourth from 36 yards behind, recorded 4:11, a world record for one of her sex. Thelma Globe was well back in the field from the outset, and with six furlongs to travel, she had only Merval, Single Direct and Aladdin behind her. She was still well back at the half, but she then commenced a run which carried her around the outside up to the middle of the field on the top turn. She was behind the first six turning for home, and continued her run right to the post for her placing, one and a half lengths from Excelsa. Thelma Globe's trainer-driver, J B Pringle, said after the race that when he attempted to give the mare a reminder with the whip at the top of the straight, the lash got caught in the shaft, and he could not free it until the race was virtually over. All he could do was to shake the reins at his charge in the final stages. In the circumstances, her effort was brilliant.

Two lengths back, Caduceus toiled on for fifth placing. The breaks were not with him on the day, and he was not disgraced. He did not hit out as well as could be wished for, with the result that to get into a prominent position in the running he was forced to cover extra ground. He moved up on the outside to join Rupee in second place with six furlongs covered, and from that stage was without the benefit of a trail. J D Litten, West Melton trainer of Our Roger and Caduceus, said when he returned to the birdcage: "Of the two, I was sure Caduceus would do the better today; but I caught a lot of back-wash early, and was never in a happy position afterwards."

Tactican finished sixth, close by Caduceus. He was slow away from the 42-yard mark, and in improving his position in the middle stages was forced to travel three sulky-widths out. He was eigth with six furlongs to travel, but did not look any real danger over the final round. Our Kentucky finished a disappointing seventh. He enjoyed a good position in the running, one sulky-width out, and trailing Caduceus, but from the half-mile was always struggling. Soangetaha, who was awkwardly placed, finished next, just behind Our Kentucky. Next were Denbry, Merval, who broke at the start, and was third-last with six-furlongs to travel, followed in by Poranui. Then after a gap of three lengths came Laureldale, who was seventh or eigth in the running. Petite Yvonne, who was near Laureldale throughout, finished next, ahead of Au Revoir, who broke at the half-mile, when in tenth place. Single Direct was several lengths back, and Aladdin brought up the rear.

In presenting the gold cup to Mr Newton, the Governor General (Sir Willoughby Norrie) disclosed that he and Lady Norrie "recently spent a very pleasant day at Akaroa and were entertained by Our Roger's owner. Mr Newton said that his horse had a good show in the Cup, and advised me to back him...which I did," said Sir Willoughby. Mr Newton, on receiving the Cup, said: "The credit must go to Mr Litten and his stable boys, and to 'Roger's' driver, Mr Watts." Later Mr Newton said he had been trying since 1924 to breed a winner of the New Zealand Cup. "The first horse I raced was Right Royal, who was a good one but did not get to the best class. Our Roger is my second horse," he said.

His Cup win was the fifteenth success of Our Roger's career, and his stake-winnings are now 14,999/10/-.

Our Roger's sire, Dillon Hall, who died in Mid-October at the age of 23, was one of the most outstandingly successful sires ever to stand in New Zealand. He has topped the sires' list four times since 1948-49, and is at this stage of this season well clear of any other sire. His 335 individual winners have won approximately 1150 races for a total exceeding by many thousands the 500,000 mark. He was by The Laurel Hall, a famous son of Peter The Great, from the Dillon Axworthy mare, Margaret Dillon.

Berthabell was a daughter of Peter The Great and Corona Mac, by Wilkes Boy, who earned immortality by siring Grattan. From her third dam, Lady Thorne Junior, descended Lou Dillon, 1:58.5, the world's first two-minute trotter. To Nelson Bingen, Berthabell left Great Bingen, Worthy Bingen, Peter Bingen, Bessie Bingen, Bertha Bingen, Great Peter, Barron Bingen and Great Nelson, all good winners. To Guy Parrish she left Great Parrish and Corona Bell, and to Travis Axworthyshe left Ringtrue. Her Progeny won a total of 34,535. Great Bingen being the main contributor with 14,120.

Of the sons of Berthabell who stood at the stud, Worthy Bingen sired the grand trotting mare, Worthy Queen, 2:03.6, and 30 other winners; Peter Bingen's 32 winners included Peter Smith (2:36, 3:11.4 and 4:15.6) and Double Peter, who also reached Cup class; Great Bingen's 44 winners included the classic performers, Taxpayer, Double Great, Refund and Great News; Great Parrish sired 31 winners; and Ringtrue about 23. Winners on the distaff side of the Berthabell family number well over 50, and descendants of the famous old mare, who died at "Oinako" at the age of 23, are spread through the Dominion and Australia.

Our Roger's success gave Watts his second winning drive in the Cup. He piloted Integrity home in 1946. It was trainer J D Litten's first success in the event. As a youth, Litten was associated with Miss Bella Button, whose parents owned the New Brighton racecourse. The Buttons owned harness horses, show horses and ponies. With the experience he gained helping with those horses, Litten has carried on to be an outstandingly successful trainer, and a master at educating young horses. Litten was responsible for the early training of Congo Song, the best three-year-old of his year; Vedette, winner of the 1951 Inter-Dominion Pacer's Championship Final and 18 other races for 27,650; Fallacy, a champion two and three-year-old; and he has prepared Our Roger and Caduceus throughout their careers.

Credit: Ron Bisman writing in NZ Trotting Calendar

 

YEAR: 1955

1955 OLLIVIER FFA
Timed to a World Record Caduceus runs in an easy winner of the Ollivier Free-For-All to cover the mile and one half on 3.04 2/5 from a standing start. Rupee (outside) was second and Johnny Globe third ahead of Tactician (shadow blind).

The five-year-old after tangling at the start, which he did on preceding days and spoilt his chances, lost about 12 yards but quickly ran up to be in a handy position and then coasted home an easy winner to equal the world's record for the distance.

The record was held in America by the sensational Adios Harry but Caduceus went one better and actually his time for the distance is unequalled in the world from a standing start. The outlook is bright for this fellow and he is worth pasting in the hat for future reference.


Credit: Hoof Beats Dec 1955

 

YEAR: 1955

Tactician & Maurice McTigue
1955 NZ FREE-FOR-ALL

Tactician who was not disgraced in finishing sixth in the New Zealand Cup, after breaking at the start and covering a lot of extra ground, came into his own in the NZ Free-For-All.

After enjoying the run of the race, he came away in the straight to beat Johnny Globe by four lengths. Merval, Thelma Globe, Our Kentucky, Au Revoir, Caduceus, Rupee and Excelsa were all slow to move, and Johnny Globe took up the running. When the field settled down the order was Johnny Globe, Tactician, Denbry and Our Roger, Soangetaha and Laureldale, Petite Yvonne and Excelsa, Single Direct and Rupee, Au Revoir, Thelma Globe, Merval and Caduceus, and at the rear, Our Kentucky.

There was not much change in this order before reaching the top turn, and Johnny Globe straightened up for the run in clear of Excelsa, with Tactician awkwardly placed in the trailing position. Our Roger was following Tactician, and outside him were Denbry, Rupee, and Thelma Globe. Caduceus, Laureldale and Soangetaha were next, with Our Kentucky, Petite Yvonne and Merval following.

Tactician worked clear soon after straightening, and challenged Johnny Globe at the furlong. Johnny Globe fought back momentarily, but Tactician had far too much in reserve. Our Roger, who had also worked clear early in the run in, finished on down the outside, and was only a nose from Johnny Globe in third place. Laureldale made up a lot of ground along the rails for a close fourth, two lengths clear of Rupee, who was running on but well beaten. It was the first occasion on which Rupee has failed to earn some portion of a stake. Two lengths further back, Our Kentucky finished on for sixth, clear of Petite Yvonne, Excelsa, Thelma Globe, Caduceus, Soangetaha, Single Direct, Denbry, Au Revoir and last of all, Merval.

One of the fastest sprinters ever produced in the Dominion, 10-year-old Tactician has now won 16 races and gained 19 minor placings for 22,165. He is a credit to his Methven owner-trainer-driver, M C McTigue.

Credit: Ron Bisman writing in NZ Trotting Calendar

 

YEAR: 1956

Caduceus - Winner of the NZFFA
1956 NZ FREE-FOR-ALL

Caduceus topped off a tidy record for himself over the three-day Cup carnival - his four starts yielded two wins, a second and a third - and gave J D Litten his fifth training and driving successes for the meeting, when he held on under keen competition from Johnny Globe to win the NZ Free-For-All.

Taking charge with seven furlongs to go, Caduceus was not afterwards headed. The only one who ever looked like taking it off him was Johnny Globe, who was weakening a little at the end after being forced to race over a good deal of extra ground.

Caduceus, only now six years old, has won 18 races, including three free-for-alls (two in New Zealand and one in Australia). His New Zealand stake-winnings have reached 16,694/10/-, and he won 5675 in Australia last season.

Cup victor Thunder did not start in the Free-For-All and has been put aside for a long spell. He will not race again until next season. His trainer, C C Devine, had difficulty keeping Thunder sound before the Cup, and after his easy win he was showing signs of weakness. It was decided that a lengthy spell would prevent the trouble becoming serious, and he is to be turned out on the Parnassus property of part owner Mr E Rutherford.

Credit: 'Ribbinwood' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar

 

YEAR: 1956

SYDNEY - GENTLEMAN JOHN
In 1956 Gentleman John recorded his 24th and most important win the Inter-Dominion Final. He was gifted to 26 year old Eric Rothacker by his father and took his stake earning to 1956 19,000. Caduceus was a gallant third after beginning from a 36yd handicap.

 

YEAR: 1956

Cecil Devine, Mrs Boyle and owner Erick Rutherford
1956 NZ TROTTING CUP

Thunder loitered with the New Zealand Trotting Cup field in a convivial sort of way for a mile and three-quarters and then went hot-foot for probably the easiest win ever seen in the race.

Call him clumsy, ungainly, or be even so uncharitable as to tag him carty, he is still the complete answer to any question of the fastest passage between any two given trotting or pacing points! Thunder is not by a long chalk, as smooth a pacer as Indianapolis was; but, barring accidents, he is the one horse racing at the present time who is capable of equalling that giant's supreme feat of winning the Cup three years in succession. It is a big errand, but Thunder is geared for the job. Big in physique, big in heart and gigantic in stride and staying power, we can still only have a faint suspicion of how good he really is, because on Tuesday he annihilated some of the best pacers in this or any other country, including two world record holders in Caduceus and Thelma Globe. A field of novices having their first outing at a matinee meeting could scarcely have been so utterly vanquished as the 10 good and true racehorses who struggled along in Thunder's wake. Such is the acid stamp of class.

The track, slushy on top to start with, had dried out remarkably well by the time the Cup - the third race - was due to be run, and a couple of feet out from the rails the going was firm all the way round. It was a pity the pace was allowed to slacken so deplorably in the middle stages. The sectional times reveal how close the field came to a "walk" in the second half-mile, which occupied 1:09.8! The first quarter was run in 35.6 sec, half in 1:06.4, six furlongs in 2:46, mile and a half 3:17.6 and the full journey 4:21.8. From the mile post to the mile and a quarter post the tramped like champions are expected to - this section was left behind in 29.8 sec. Thunder paced the last mile in 2:05.6, but the extent to which to which he was enabled to ease off at the end is shown by his last half-mile in 1:04.2.

His official winning margin was six lengths, and he was slakening pace towards the close. "Although the slow pace early did not suit Thunder, he was always going like a winner," said C C Devine, "over the last half-mile in particular I felt very confident. He was a little sore before the race, but he soon got over that. The way he nods when he is going gives the impression of lameness, but that is just his style."

Cecil Devine won the 1951 New Zealand Cup with his own horse, Van Dieman, another accomplished stayer. Devine, a native of Tasmania, came to New Zealand about 20 years ago. The road to the top for Devine was not an easy one from the depth of the depression when he was glad to be a stropper to a good pacer of those "seldom" days in Evicus. Devine first came into prominence as owner and trainer of the useful little trotter, Teddy Greg. He had the bad luck to lose a promising colt named Viceroy, but he was compensated soon afterwards by some driving success behind the trotter Flying Scott. In the 1949-50 season Devine trained and drove the sensational filly Vivanti, whose mile and a quarter in 2:41.2 still stands as the New Zealand and Australian two-year-old record for a mile and a quarter. Van Dieman was well on the harness stage by then too, and he won the Royal Metropolitan Cup in January 1954, as well as the 1951 New Zealand Cup and a number of free-for-alls. Thunder's meteoric rise from maiden class to the top of the tree has been accomplished in the short space of 19 months. The New Zealand Cup win was worth 4975 (including the silver salver valued at 100) and brought his total stake-winnings to 12,097.

Excelsa was the only one of the field to make a bad break at the start, and Dancing Years showed the way out to Thunder, Roy Grattan and Caduceus, who made one of the best beginnings of his career. There was no inclination on the part of anything to "turn on the heat," and Thunder was in front with two furlongs covered. A furlong further on Caduceus took charge, and it was Worthy Chief's turn to lead by the time the first half-mile had been covered. They were closely packed by now, with Tactician bringing up the rear. Worthy Chief still lead at the mile, with Te Koi just shading him at the end of another two furlongs. Caduceus was third at that stage, and Thunder had drifted back to seventh. Down the back they sprinted, and by the time the three furlongs was passed Caduceus and Thunder were in charge. Two furlongs to go, and Thunder had ranged up on the outside of Caduceus. It was all over at the straight entrance: Thunder left Caduceus standing and he was all by himself at the winning post. Caduceus just failed to hold off Laureldale, who made a suprisingly fine showing for second, and Roy Grattan and Dancing Years were at the head of the remainder.

Credit: 'Ribbonwood' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar

 

YEAR: 1957

Start of the New Brighton Flying Mile 7 Dec 57
FIRST MOBILE START AT NEW BRIGHTON

Nothing short of a sensational performance was returned by Lookaway to win the New Brighton Flying Mile.

At the half mile Caduceus had a substantial break on his nearest rival and Lookaway at this stage was at the rear, and was experiencing difficulty getting clear. His task of getting anywhere near Caduceus looked hopeless when his driver, M Holmes, pulled him back to get a run as the three furlong peg was reached.

Once clear Lookaway unwound a brilliant run and was rapidly closing on the flying leader, Caduceus, turning for home. Halfway down the straight it became apparent that he had the measure of Caduceus, and Lookaway actually won going away by two lengths. Lookaway's performance was even more remarkable when it is realised that the first half mile was run in 58secs.

A grand start was made behind the mobile barrier, the horses all being in perfect line. When the starting point was reached the gate was a trifle slow in moving away, and one or two horses near the outside appeared to be inconvenienced as they were all ready to move off at top. It appeared as though Lookaway had to be restrained a little with the result that he was slow to get going.

From the middle of the field, Caduceus made a brilliant beginning and he was in front leaving the straight. He was followed by Light Nurse, Ricochet, Our Kentucky and Don Hall with False Step next, then came Lookaway and Tactician. Racing to the six furlongs, Caduceus was two lengths clear of Ricochet with another length and a half to Light Nurse and a similar distance to False Step, with Our Kentucky, Tactician and Lookaway following. At the six furlongs Lookaway was experiencing anything but a happy run and Caduceus had increased his lead to five lengths. Once Lookaway worked clear he set out to bridge the gap, and the manner in which he did so brought unstinted praise from the crowd. He was given a fine ovation on his return to the birdcage.

Form worked out well as Caduceus, False Step and Don Hall, who finished in that order behind Lookaway were first, second and third in the New Zealand Flying Stakes at Addington. No excuses could be made for the beaten division but Caduceus was not disgraced in having to be content with second place. He set out to assure a solid pace and this told at the finish. Only a horse of the calibre of Lookaway could have beaten Caduceus on the day. False Step ran his usual honest race and the same could be said of Don Hall but the remainder were outclassed.

Credit: 'Irvington' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 11Dec57

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