1984 WELCOME STAKES
There were more eyes on Adjo at the start of the Lance Heron Trotting Handicap on July 22 than normal for the ninth favourite in a trotter's race at Addington. For Adjo's engagement marked the end of the 32 year long race driving career of Ted Lowe, of Hinds, near Ashburton.
Ted turned 65 on June 21 and can not renew his horseman's licence due to the compulsory retirement rule. Adjo did not oblige and allow Ted to go out in a blaze of glory as some other retiring drivers have done, but it was obvious in the driver's room, and at a presentation in the president's room that Ted Lowe commanded much respect regardless of the result of his final drive.
Adjo actually displayed no sense of occasion, breaking badly after 150m and finishing 12th. "He has broken a bone in his leg and I think the track was a bit hard for him. I was restraining him when he broke but it might have been better if I had pushed him into it," Ted said as he changed out of his colours for the last time. His four other drives earlier in the day had produced a somewhat unlucky third (promoted to second) with Single Lord, fourths with Ganelon and Wing Commander, and tenth with Lord George. "If Wing Commander hadn't turned his head to the side just as they let the tape go, I don't think he would have been beaten," Ted said. As it was, Wing Commander battled hard for fourth after making a big run to sit outside the leader with a round to go.
Ted was sad, but philosophical about having to give up driving. "It's an inconvenience. I'll miss out on a lot of fun, but it's the law and there's no use growling about it. Others have had to do it and it's a pleasure to end at Addington on a fine day. But I will miss all my friends out on the track - they're terrific fellows, and there is a tremendous amount of unwritten law and self respect among them," he said.
Ted's major driving victories came in the 1968 NZ Cup and the 1968 New Brighton Cup (both with Humphrey) while he trained Wag to win the 1972 National Flying Pace and the 1973 Stars Travel Miracle Mile. He also owned Cairnbrae trained and driven by Ces Donald to win the 1964 NZ Cup.
Born into a trotting family on June 21, 1913, Walter Edward Lowe did not begin driving until after the Second World War, when he served in the 20th Battalion "with Charlie Upham and several other good trotting men." Ted was among those taken prisoner at El Alamein, on July 15, 1942, and spent most of his prison life in hospital. He was hospitalised for 23 months with pleurisy and pneumonia, which left him with a "bad chest".
In his first race drive, at a Kaikoura Trotting Club meeting at Rangiora on March 23, 1946, Ted finished fourth with Gloxania in the first division of the two-mile Parsons Handicap, won by Ben Adam. Owned by his father, Mr W T Lowe, trained at Hinds by Dave McGregor, Gloxania was the dam of Grouse, whose son Wheatson has taken a mark of 1:58.6 in the United States this year. Later in the 1945-46 season, Ted guided Gloxania to third twice in one day, in harness races on the Oamaru Jockey Club's programme on June 15, 1946. "The placings on Gloxania made me a B Grade driver," Ted recalls. Baadin, a Lucky Jack-Mistral 4-year-old he owned, provided Ted with his first winning drive - a deadheat with Supplement (Dillon Hall-Love Brigade) at the Waikouaiti Racing Club's meeting in January 1, 1948. "I was then an A Grade driver, but I didn't do much driving after that, until I took up training in the 1950's," he said.
Trotting records show Ted Lowe as retiring with 157 winning drives to his credit (not including any seasons when he had less than three wins) and 223 training successes. His best season was the 1962-63 term. He was leading owner with 28 wins and £16,940, eighth on the drivers' list with 21 wins and fourth highest trainer with 22 wins. Of the 28 races won by Lowe owned horses that season, Cairnbrae contributed eight, Grouse and Peel six each, and Urrall and Lyndhurst (Captain Adios-Gloxania) three each. Cairnbrae was trained by Lowe himself for his first three wins in 1962-3, then went to Ces Donald, who prepared him for another five victories, in succession.
"Humphrey was the best all round horse I drove - he could sprint and stay," Ted says of the horse which gave him his most notable driving success. "When I got hold of him the game was easy - good horses make good drivers. I was never any great shakes as a driver, but I could hold my own - with horses I knew."
Ted says the most noticeable change in racing over the years is the move towards shorter races nowdays. "Races are run in more of a rush. You used to be able to sit back and wait like you can still do to a certain extent on the bigger courses like Ashburton and Methven. I don't think the change has improved the horse," he said.
Ted now intends to put more driving opportunities to help the way of his stablehand Paul Young, while Doody Townley will continue to handle West Street "when it suits him."
Extract from NZ Trotting Calendar 26March85
Ted Lowe, who died in Ashburton last week, was one of NZ's best known amateur horsemen. From his farm near Hinds in the Maronan district of Mid-Canterbury, Ted Lowe produced a string of top class pacers over the years, and numbered two NZ Cups to his credit. His first Cup victory came in 1964 with Cairnbrae, trained and driven by the late Ces Donald, but in 1968 Ted had his own moment of glory as trainer-driver of Humphrey who took out the premier staying event.
Many Lowe horses were named after areas in the Mid-Canterbury district, and a drive along the back roads is like a roll call of many of his early winners - Lyndhurst, Lauriston, Mitcham, Barrhill etc.
Better known winners of recent times to race in the Lowe colours include the former NZ mile record holder Wag (1:57.2) who set his mark in winning the then Stars Travel Miracle Mile (now Pan Am Mile), Dundas, Atanui, Grouse, Corwar, Stortford Lodge, The Raider, Urrall, Pun, Wing Commander, West Street, Templar and Siouan to name a few.
Ted Lowe had been in ill health for a good number of years, largely caused by the long period he spent as a prisoner of war in Norway during the Second World War, being captured at El Alamein when serving with the 20th Battalion.
Few major races escaped Lowe representatives, though he was never to produce a Derby winner. If sentiment were to rectify this state of affairs, Samson would have taken out the 1985 Great Northern Derby at Alexandra Park just two days before Ted's death. Samson was favourite for the event, on the strength of his brilliant lead-up form, but unfortunately went off-stride soon after the start and took no part in the race.
Ted also took a very active role in trotting administration, serving the Trotting Owners' and Trainers' Association in Mid-Canterbury, and the Ashburton Trotting Club. He joined the Ashburton Trotting Club committee in 1958 after several years as a steward, was president from 1977 to 1980, then was re-elected to the committee again in 1983 after three years as immediate past president.
Until his retirement from race driving at the age of 65, Ted did much of his own driving, but encouraged young reinsmen in his employ. George Adamson drove many winners in the Lowe colours, and in recent seasons Paul Young has proved a highly successful stable reinsman.
Ted Lowe is survived by his wife Lillian and six step-children. He was 71 at the time of his death.
Credit: Rod Carr writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 1Aug78
The John Brandon NZ Derby winner will be invited to contest the $50,000 Australian Derby at Gloucester Park, Perth in May. Along with Great Northern Derby winner Nardinski, Placid Victor will be invited to line up against the State Derby winners in Australia in the Australian Derby.
The son of current boom sire Vance Hanover clearly oustayed his ten rivals in the $80,000 NZ Derby and showed just how unlucky he was not to pick up the $102,500 bonus for winning all three races in the John Brandon Series at the meeting. He was just held out by Nardinski in the 2000 metre event on the middle night after winning on the first night.
Raced by Mrs Lyndy Wilson and trained for her by Sandy Purdon at Pukekohe, Placid Victor earned $52,000 for his win in the Derby, taking his earnings to $108,635, the result of seven wins, one second and four thirds from just 19 starts. Berima, the dam of Placid Victor, was purchased by Mrs Wilson's husband Ross for $600 from Waiuku studmaster Dave Jessop, and a mating with Jessop's highly successful sire Vance Hanover produced a colt of genuine staying ability. "He's getting better with age and he should be an even better horse next year," said driver Maurice McKendry after the Derby. "Today's run suited him - he got a good drag round and, being an out and out stayer, was suited by the fast pace." Placid Victor paced a race-record 3:16.4 in winning by a length and a quarter, only .7 of a second outside Roydon Glen's New Zealand record.
Maurice McKendry allowed Placid Victor to drop back in the early running and did not make a move until he latched onto the back of Chipaluck who started to move forward from the 1000 metres. Placid Victor sat three wide in the second line to the home turn, and McKendry didn't take off until he saw place favourite Nardinski bottled up on the rails and unlikely to get a run until late. That turned out to be the case and as Placid Victor strode to an easy length and a quarter win it was left to outsider Gold Sovereign to charge home late for second nearly three lengths clear of Loveridge.
Loveridge maintained his placed record in the series with his third, rushing up to sit in the open from the 800 metres and holding on well. Nardinski was two lengths back fourth and, though denied a run until the race was all but over, trainer-driver Jack Smolenski didn't think that altered the result much. "He didn't feel as sharp today and he wouldn't have beaten the winner anyway," Smolenski said. Placid Victor's stablemate Fredrick fought on well ahead of second favourite Samson, who, in spite of being pushed back on the home turn and running on for sixth, didn't really fire, according to driver Ricky May. Pacemaker Kevs Choice was at the head of the remainder.
Credit: Tony Williams writing in NZ Trotting Calendar