Perseverance is virtually a necessity if you wish to race horses. Peter Cocks needs little reminding of that. He's given up, given away and even shot more horses than he cares to remember. However, patience is a virtue that has been very rewarding over the past 12 months, and the future's looking even better.
Peter got off to a good start as an owner, his first horse Lady Estes winning a couple of races as a three-year-old about five years ago. However, a number of horses and years went by before success came his way again. But now it's something he is quite used to. In the past two seasons she's had five winners who've won 14 races and almost $34,000 in stakes.
The first of them was Timely Frost, who two seasons ago won four races and has been a regular placegetter since. This season he also won a race with Julie Harper before selling her to America. Last season Timely Frost's younger sister Nightania won another three, while the promising trotter Aggressive notched up four wins, including a deadheat, in a brief stint for Cocks. Timely Frost and Nightania have already been back in the money this season, while the latest winner, four-year-old trotter Ranger Globe, has shown considerable promise in winning two of his first four starts.
Apart from Timely Frost, Nightania, Ranger Globe and Aggressive, who all look in for a good season, Cocks has two other promising youngsters in Lumber Leon and Lady Jay to follow with anticipation as well. Lumber Leon, a two-year-old colt by Lumber Dream, is held in particularly high regard by part-owner and trainer Colin De Filippi and was a most impressive winner of a juvenile parade at Addington trials last week, while Lady Jay, a trhee-year-old filly by Some Evander from Lady Estes, was placed as a juvenile trotter at Addington last season.
Peter has always been interested in horses, but waited until he was well and truly on his feet before he began breeding his own. His father Doug was a close friend of Bob Mayne, the owner of Young Charles. Peter started out as a plumber and has for the last 20 years owned a hot water cylinder fitting firm. Vice-President and treasurer of the Canterbury OTB Association, he was caught in his regular role as timekeeper at the Addington trials last week.
He breeds from five or six mares a year, including the fine racemare Gay Tennessee, whom he bought from her breeder, the late Fred Smith, for a substantial sum. Gay Tennessee raced briefly but successfully in Australia before returning to New Zealand with a colt at foot by champion American pacer Adios Vic. Called Tennessee Waltz, a favourite tune of Smith's, he injured himself on a fence early on but has had a run at Sunday workouts this season. The three-year-old is still particularly green and Cocks doesn't expect him to really come into his own for another 12 months yet. "The breed has always been slow maturing," Peter said last week.
Gay Tennessee won eight races in New Zealand, including the mobile mile S J Moore Stakes at Addington, beating New Zealand Cup winner Trusty Scot in 1:59.8. By Fallacy from a good racemare in Gay Alabama, Gay Tennessee also has a yearling colt by Waratah. Peter said he took a fair amount of criticism for sending the mare to Waratah, but it was a gamble he's glad he made. "I always had a lot of time for Miss Pert, who was bred on the same cross, and the colt's a particularly nice one." Gay Tenessee is due to foal to El Patron, while she's got an engagement with Smooth Fella next year.
Peter is also breeding from Proudly, who has plenty to recommend her as well. The winner of six races, she had already produced winners in Majestic Pride (2.06.2), Proudlight, Mindoolah, Proud Hanover and Palface Princess before Cocks put her to Bye Bye Song to get Ranger Globe. By Johnny Globe, Proudly is one of five foals left by a top racemare in Gough's Pride, who was by New Zealand Cup winner Red Shadow from the Jack Potts mare Homelover.
Gough's Pride won eight races as a four and five-year-old, and then had eight starts as a six-year-old for six wins and two thirds. In the last of those wins she beat Chamfer in the £2750 Easter Handicap, fore-runner to the Easter Cup. Gough's Pride failed to produce the same form the following season and was soon bred from, but left nothing approaching her own class. Peter was rather surprised when Ranger Globe trotted, but hasn't really minded. "It's much easier to get starts for them," he said. Ranger Globe revealed considerable potential in beating promising four-year-olds Game Greg, Spangled Pride and Black Soil at Addington last month.
Aggressive is another trotter who has shown a lot of promise, but he too should have paced, being by Noodlum from a top pacing family. His dam Local Rani, is a half-sister to Canis Minor (1:57.4) and Sakuntala, dam of Abbe Princess, Brad Adios and Tuapeka Star. High hopes are also held for the five-year-oldwho has just returned from a spell.
Recently acquired is the trotting bred mare Single Event, who is in foal to Game Pride. By Tuft from the Court Martial mare Fair Court, Single Event is a sister to the Banks Peninsula Trotting Cup winner Tough Girl winner and is closely related to top trotters Fair Play, Merrin and Topeka. Cocks is also breeding from Lady Estes, whose first foal is Lady Jay, and Lady Leon, whose second foal is Lumber Leon. They are also from noteworthy families.
With such well bred mares, Peter Cocks has obviously always been on the right road to success and can look forward to another profitable season.
Credit: Frank Marrion 5 Oct 1982
Gee Whiz II had an answer to the stock of Chiola Hanover which dominated the field for the Linwood City Pharmacy NZ Trotting Stakes. His sole representative was Whizzing By, whose short career has been notable for its solidness and determination.
Raced by Peter Cocks, Doug Goslin and Dennis Smith, Whizzing By is trained at Ashburton by Dick Prendergast, who won the race in 1988 with Robbie Hest.
He came into the race with winning form on the grass at Methven, though this was not enough to give him favouritism. Prendergast placed him in midfield, brought him into the attack at the 400 metres , which he did with pleasure, and he went to the line strongly from there.
His dam is Single Event, a Tuft mare bred by Cocks. She has a rich trotting pedigree, being from Fair Court, by Court Martial from Tat Scott, by U Scott. Bred by Ted Sunckell, Tat Scott left three open-class trotters - Fair Play, Merrin and Topeka, and Belenciaga, a daughter by Goodland, left First Grade, an outstanding trotter by Gerry Mir.
There was quite a delay to the posting of the official result. Various disqualifications meant that Fitzroy Thugs, who finished 6th, was promoted three placings to run third; others who benefitted were Princess Della, Gianni and Lancaster Pride.
Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 15Apr93
Now 66, Cocks has been racing horses for 35 years. He had hardly ever raced a 2-year-old during that time, nor had he ever had a runner in a Sires' Stakes Final, but Tribute has surpassed both of these hurdles and on Tuesday he iced the cake with a super victory in the $150,000 NRM-sponsored Group 1 event.
"I won't tell you what I paid for him, because I never do that, but he wasn't cheap considering he was only supposed to be a paddock mate," Cocks joked, remembering back to the reason why he bought Tribute in the first place. "We were going to put him through the sale ring after that, and he was all set to be entered and sent away to start being prepared when we decided to keep him. "I think Joan fell in love with him," he said. Probably in the back of his mind also was the fact that of the seven or eight horses he has bought from the sales, Cocks is yet to enjoy a win from any of them. "I think the best I have had was a qualifier. But you never know, it's just bad luck I suppose."
Placed in Tim Butt's stable, Tribute made his debut as a juvenile earlier this year when running a close second at Addington, and then he went down south to Wyndham nine days later and made everyone sit up and take notice of him when he became the first 2-year-old pacer to break 1:55 in NZ. "That was a shock - Tim wasn't expecting much more than a top five finish that day," Cocks said. "Even today we were thinking that fourth would be our lot, because there were a few nice horses in there and some of them have been beating him in the lead-up races; anything better than that was going to be a bonus."
And a 'bonus' is certainly what Tribute's connections got on Tuesday, because after being tucked away sweetly behind Marika, who set a red-hot pace, Tribute dived through at the business end and took out the 1950 metre event in a sizzling 1:56 mile rate. Cocks and his wife are "always" on-course when one of their horses is racing, and in the past they have been on-hand to enjoy such moments as a Trotting Stakes victory by Whizzing By and nine wins apiece by the likes of Eastnor Lad and Greenidge. The latter also started in the New Zealand Cup one year for them as well, finishing 10th behind Bee Bee Cee in 1994.
"This is certainly the biggest win we have ever had, and it is a great thrill," said Cocks, who started up his own hot water cylinder manufacturing company 40 years ago and is still suppling a strong niche market today. "We have got a factory in Bromley and employ ten staff - I must be due to retire soon though," he smiled.
Afterwards, the In The Pocket-Going Royce's trainer spoke very philosophically about the one victory that he and brother Anthony managed to grab on an action-packed Cup Day. "Tribute is a very nice little horse, who is seasoned, and he got the trip and did the business today," Butt said. "Luck probably went our way a bit out there, because there were a couple of very nice horses in that race. But he is a good horse to work with, and he has got a great constitution - he is the perfect racehorse, really. Where he goes from here is up to him now; he will either go on and mature or he will level out, it remains to be seen."
Credit: John Robinson writing in HRWeekly 11Nov04