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HORSES

 

YEAR: 1904

MABEL & NORICE

There have been few more colourful tales of our harness world than that of Norice, arguably the greatest broodmare in its history, and her owner Mabel Duncan.

In the World War One years Norice was the breeding queen of New Zealand and Duncan kept her in suitably palatial surroundings at the country's plushest trotting stud, Coldstream Lodge in Fendalton. The present homestead at the end of Chilcombe St - the property originally fronted Memorial Avenue when it was 59 Burnside Rd - remains the only memorial to what also was the first stud of any code in New Zealand and the place many harness fans angled to get an invite to visit during carnival week in Christchurch.

Coldstream had been established and named by Ernest Jerningham Wakefield on whose motion the Canterbury Jockey Club was formed in 1855. He stood The Peer there (Peer St is still close by) but Ronald and Mabel Duncan would enlarge and transform it at great expense into a showplace hosting four of the most famous standardbreds of their time.

Horse-mad Mabel Duncan, an accomplished show rider in her youth, was the youngest daughter of A J White whose furniture store was Christchurch's largest. Her Husband, an accountant, successful real estate agent and land speculator, was the sixth son of the former Mayor of Christchurch, Andrew Duncan (there were seven in all) and a dashing "man about town" in the land agency business. They had been married in Sydney in 1905, chiefly to avoid embarrassment to family. The Whites were the high profile Catholic family in the city and the Duncans leaders of the Presbyterian church - not a popular quinella at any religious ceremony in those far off times. The doomsayers would have the last laugh.

Ronald Duncan acted as judge, timekeeper and stipendiary steward at several Canterbury racing clubs and later on the executive of the NZ Trotting Association and King Cole (for a time) was the only horse he raced. He added 10 ha to Coldstream and built a luxurious stable complex and trainer's quarters which included, a reporter marvelled, a hot shower. Mabel was loosening the purse strings as well.

She bought Norice, the most famous racemare in the country, for a hefty sum from the popular Bower Hotel (New Brighton) owner, James Pettie, who had imported Norice from California (accompanied on the trip by Dave Price who brought back the first spreaders used here) but was now moving to the outskirts of Gisborne. Mabel also bought the promising King Cole from Nelson Price as well as his dam. Mabel's trainer, Dave Price, had already given her his half share in King Cole as a foal.

King Cole was one of only 17 foals left here by Price's champion, Ribbonwood. 15 raced and 12 won. Another notable and expensive purchase, before her marriage, had been the champion Sal Tasker, the fastest mare in Australasia, with a sensational official time at Addington in 2:20. She was named after Sarah Tasker the wife of her prominent breeder James Tasker - though Nelson Price first raced the mare and landed a betting plunge first up at Sockburn with her before selling.

At the outbreak of World War One Coldstream boasted both the fastest mare and stallion in Australasia (King Cole having broken his sire Ribbonwood's mile record in a special morning trial at Addington) as well as Norice, the most commercial broodmare. Mabel often used Sal Tasker when driving to town (Ronald played a big role in the tramway being extended to Clyde Road later) safe in the knowledge no challenger could possibly beat her down Fendalton Road.

Mabel also sent mares to be bred in Australia to Abbey Bells and horses to race there including Sal Tasker and her son Coldstream Bells, which was cruelly robbed of the biggest prize in Australasia, the Melbourne Thousand, when another driver deliberately crashed into him and Price at the start. Coldstream Bells still ran second and was later a sire of some note. Mabel Duncan seemed jinxed at times with her horses yet Norice was always there to give Coldstream its status. She also had a champion pony stallion which went years without defeat in Christchurch show rings.

Norice had six generations of recorded pedigree when most local mares, Sal Tasker included, rarely had more than two. She was by Charles Derby (ancester of Johnny Globe, Lordship etc) and after she was bought a half-brother became one of the fastest juveniles in America. Black, fast, sometimes erratic, Norice was the leading stake earner of 1904 winning six of her first seven starts here. She would have won the first NZ Cup that year too but she had problems which prevented Price from training her sufficiently for the race. Even so she led clearly most of the way and as she was eased when passed by Monte Carlo in the straight the big margin was misleading. The veteran never beat her in shorter races.

Norice made history again when disqualified from first in a Flying Handicap at Addington for galloping near the finish. In a landmark decision the race was restored to her because the committee had not taken evidence from her driver, Price, which would have established that a hopple had broken. From then on committees could not make decisions without hearing evidence from the drivers. Later in the day she won the Champion Free-For-All. Norice had also caused Pettie some grief because he had to lodge another cheque "under strong protest" with the NZTA before Norice could race here. Her previous owner was apparently in forfeit to the American Trotting Association and that body had just agreed to share it's rulings with this country.

At stud Norice left a series of smart colts who were in strong demand in Australia as sire but her most famous son was Nelson Derby, a striking colt from birth bought from Mabel by George Craw of Palmerston North for a record 750. He won the Great Northern Derby and the Auckland Cup though not sound, according to trainer Bill Tomkinson, and sired Haughty the first mare outside America to break two minutes. Therein lay quite a story.

The racing dream which seemed to belong to Ronald and Mabel Duncan started to fall apart around 1916 when Duncan took the extraordinary step then of suing his wife for 325 through the courts, presumably for Coldstream costs. Coldstream was sold with Mabel retaining the home block. Ronald Duncan bought and moved to the famous homestead block in North Canterbury. He later moved to Australia where he died in 1942 having remarried after Mabel's death.

Mabel had to cut numbers and sell virtually all her young stock. Watching Nelson Derby, the horse she had been aiming to breed for so long walk out the gate must have been heartbreaking. Selling Norice and Sal Tasker (whose descendants are still competitive today) was never an option. She still clung to part of Coldstream when she died in 1936 the once wealthy heiress having been adjudged bankrupt the previous year. Her parents had a strong social conscience and spent much of their wealth on community projects including building and supporting the large St Joseph's orphanage in Halswell. Norice had her last foal in 1931.

Among the horses sold was Queen Cole (King Cole-Norice) to John Grice of Tinwald whose son Ben inherited her first foal Colene Pointer (Methven and Timaru Cups) a fine stayer and dam of Queen's Treasure and Kingcraft. Ben had another foundation mare, Logan Princess, dam of the high class Regal Voyage. When that mare retired, down the road at Walter Gudsell's Pluto Lodge Stud in Tinwald was a poorly patronised Nelson Derby and so history in the form of Haughty was made. Crossing the two families and doubling up on Norice blood through Nelson Derby by Ben Grice to reinforce the family speed factor has ensured the survival of the Norice character through every generation since. Native King was another Norice colt successful at stud. Kingcraft, by the obscure Quincey who also happened to stand locally (Colene Pointer had broken down so badly she could not travel far) was almost a great horse, competing in the NZ Cup after just eight starts, but like his granddam was erratic at times.

Norice's essential qualities of high speed and waywardness combined with soundness problems have suvived to a remarkable extent through almost a century of breeding. At crucial times her tribe produces fast fillies like herself, like Single Star, Riviera and Petro Star for Grice. Perhaps the best example of the potency of the mare was the amazing Mount Eden. He was the essence of her pacing power and like her highly strung yet his performances were so stunning no less a commentator than Ron Bisman claimed he was to him the fastest horse the world had seen.

The Norice line has actually thrived on the superior breeding performance of relatively few mares, and largely just three breeders - Mabel Duncan, Grice and the Cummings family of Tuapeka whose mare Sakuntala has been the springboard of much of the family's recent success. The New Zealand Cup winners Iraklis and Monkey King, both from this source, were noted for extreme acceleration. Their ancestress Hindu Star, dam of Sakuntala, carried a close up (3x3) Norice masterminded by Grice. Holmes D G came from a more obscure branch of the Norice tribe but still had the essential double cross of Nelson Derby.

In earlier eras stars like Nicotine Prince, Chief Command and Indecision; the speedy Maurice Holmes 2yos like Strauss, Violetta and company; Hardy Oak, Single Star, Ardstraw, Canis Minor, Tuapeka Star, Ruling Lobell etc, etc kept the Norice name to the fore. O Baby is her current Horse of the Year poll winner.

The Norice legacy can be character building for those seeking to extend it. Lightning does not strike as consistently as with some families - but when its stars align it sends an electric charge through the pacing world that no other family can match.

Mabel Duncan and Ben Grice knew what they had to work with. Their work was not in vain.

Credit: David McCarthy writing in HRWeekly 10Apr13

 

YEAR: 1947

J S Shaw holds Native Prince
J S SHAW

J S Shaw, talented reinsman and trainer of champions, breeder of bloodstock and one of the most consistent buyers of 'bargain' yearlings at Trentham over a long period; for nine years a stipendiary steward to the NZ Trotting Conference, has purchased a half share in the trotter Not Quite, whom he will race in partnership with Mr W Hosking. Shaw has also taken out a driver's licence, and he may hold the reins over Not Quite at the New Brighton Trotting Club's meeting on September 6, for which the trotter is being trained by C Fairman. Shaw had his last drive in a race behind Tempest at the Metropolitan meeting on 1937. He won, and is naturally hopeful of bridging a decade with success on either side. (Note: Not Quite finished fifth)

"I am certain, if conditions had been ideal that day she would have trotted two minutes." J S Shaw was discussing his champion of 13 years standing, Worthy Queen, a trotter who made history on a windy, dusty day at Addington in April, 1934, by trotting a mile against time in 2.03 3/5. "It was partly my own fault. There was a gale blowing, and it was the first time she had ever had a horse galloping beside her. I was under the impression I could trail the pacemaker, but was told I couldn't. Over the first three furlongs she was trying to beat the galloper, trying to go faster than she could. She was pulling hard and trotting all in a heap. She was hitched to a short sulky and round the showgrounds bend her hock was hitting my leg. It wasn't until she reached the back straight that she flattened out to really trot. But the first half in 61 1/2 took as much out of her as 58 or 59 would have if she had been trotting kindly.

"She was a really wonderful mare. She didn't know what it was to do anything wrong. She never broke in a race unless something took the legs from under her, which happened on only one occasion to my knowledge. She had her funny little ways," continued Shaw. "On race day you had no chance of driving her on the roads or on to the tracks. She had to be led, and even then she insisted upon stopping now and again to gaze at things. Nothing would thwart her."

Worthy Queen's 2.03 3/5 is not her only record that remains unassailed after 13 years. Her 3.14 1/5 in a race was also established in 1934, and she was clocked from post to post on that occasion in 3.09 - and round the field.

Worthy Queen, by Worthy Bingen from Queen Chimes, a Coldstream Bells mare from Vanquish, was bred by the late J R Corrigan, of Hawera, and sold as a yearling to Mr T Agnew, of Hastings. "A mutual friend of both, the late Harry Jones, saw her trotting in the paddock and told Mr Corrigan what a wonderful filly she was," related Shaw, "with the result that Mr Corrigan leased her back. For him she won several races under the direction of Alex Corrigan and afterwards, when I shifted from Auckland to Christchurch he sent her down to me. That was in 1931. I won several races with her for Mr Corrigan. When he became ill and restricted his racing activities he sold the mare's racing rights to me, and she continued to win races."

"Although Worthy Queen was the best trotter up to a mile and a half ever seen in this country, she was not a top-notch two-miler. The best two-mile trotter I ever had was Peter Dean, by Petereta-Ivy Dean. Mrs Sweetapple and I bought him five minutes before a race on the third day of the Auckland Christmas meeting of 1932. He was 144yds behind in a mile and a half race, and although I had never driven him before, he won; and he also won a two mile race the same day. He cost us 1000, but in the first three months we owned him he won 1025. He won three times and was second in his first four starts for us. Shortly after I brought him to Christchurch he kicked at another horse in an adjoining paddock, injuring himself behind, and although he won races afterwards, he was never sound again. His action changed altogether. I consider he is easily the best two-mile trotter I have ever seen. In a trial before leaving Auckland he came the last half-mile in 61sec and the last quarter in 29sec. When I make this claim I am not forgetting Hardy Wilkes, Electrocute, Bellflower, Submarine, Muricata, Quincey, Whispering Willie, Sea Gift, Trampfast, Wrackler, Huon Voyage, Moneyspider and other great staying trotters."

"Hardy Wilkes was a phenomenal horse, too. He broke five times in a NZ Cup when competing against the pacers and then finished just out of the money. He was especially good in bad ground, but was a very difficult horse to control. He was trained by A Fleming when I was in his employ. I was still in my teens when I trained my first horse. This was none other than Whispering Willie. He won many races, including the Auckland Summer Cup among the pacers at Auckland. For his inches he was a super horse. The sulky he raced in weighed 86lb, compared with the average of 35lb today. What was most remarkable about Whispering Willie was that he won races for every person who trained and drove him, among the number being J Wilson, G Murfitt, J Bryce, R W Mills, W Orange and myself."

Native Prince was a pacer who still stands high in Shaw's regard. "He was a really beautiful-looking horse," he said. "He was bred in Hastings, and sold as a yearling by Ben Shadbolt to C Rokkjer. He won races in Australia, and was bought back to Auckland by Peter Riddle and sold to Mrs Sweetapple. I trained him to win many races, and he finished up by running a great race in the NZ Cup, although he was unplaced. He was a really genuine horse."

"Jewel Pointer was the best all-rounder I ever had. He was good in saddle or harness, he won from a mile to two miles, he was equally at home on grass of clay, mud or dry, and any class of mud to boot. Besides being foolproof at the start - which was a great asset with him - you could always afford to take a risk and get a position before a race had been long in progress. I bought Jewel Pointer for Mr Moodabe for about 300, and he won thousands. One of his best feats was to win three 1000 races within eight days, besides three seconds. He had to travel from Auckland to Christchurch, and it has to be remembered that stakes were then less than half what they are today."

"Carmel must be included among a number a really good horses I had the good fortune to train and drive. The Richmond brothers, friends of mine, bought Carmel among some draught horses at a sale for 14gns the vendor being A Cameron. They leased him to me and I developed him and won several races before selling him to Mr J W Murphy. He went into C S Donald's stable, and under his guidance he won the Auckland Cup and many other races. Torpedo Huon, a good-looking well-bred horse from Australia, was a good winner under my direction, but he did not breed on," continued Shaw. "Western King was also bought in Australia for Mr Moodabe. Unfortunately, this grand pacer got hurt and I thought he would never race here. Even under this severe handicap he went 2.07 4/5 round a field to win, and he had a good two-mile record as well. This horse might have been capable of anything if he had not been injured. Florrie Bingen was one of my favourites. She was bought by Mrs Sweetapple and myself for 150 and she won numerous races, including two over two miles at one meeting in Christchurch towards the conclusion of her career. This was the first meeting at which a limit was put on both ends of a race. One of the races she won was 4.40 to 4.35."

In August 1930, after a run of successes with Warplane and Native Chief, I went out of racing and bought a partnership in a gymnasium in Auckland. A year later I came to Christchurch with Peter Pirate, setting up as a public trainer. It was then that I received Impromptu to train. He was not doing any good at that stage. The first time I started him he won at New Brighton. The following week he won the leading event at Wellington. He ended up by going 3.13 and winning very easily at Ashburton and beating Harold Logan in a free-for-all at Auckland. On his day it took a really good horse to beat Impromptu over any distance; but he was a bad-gaited horse and one of the hardest to train I ever had anything to do with. When I received Royal Silk to train he had one miss and then won five on end, including the big race at Dunedin, the Auckland Cup, the big sprint on the second day, and the big two-miles on the third day of the Auckland meeting; and the NZ Trotting Gold Cup at Wellington."

Koro Peter, champion 2-year-old trotter of the late 1920s, and the only horse of his age and gait to win in open company in the Dominion during the last 20 years, was another celebrity who passed through J S Shaw's hands. This big, overgrown gelding by Peter Moko from Koro Ena, trained and driven by his owner, T Cooper, astounded the trotting world by winning the Introductory Handicap of a mile and a half, from a big field of all ages at Cambridge in May, 1928. Shaw immediately opened negotiations on behalf of Mrs Sweetapple to buy Koro Peter, and secured him for 500. "The same season, a 2-year-old trotting filly named First Wrack, bred and owned by Mr H F Nicoll, had finished third in open company in the Allenton Handicap, of a mile and a half, at Ashburton a month before Koro Peter won at Cambridge. These youngsters were the only 2-year-old trotters to have shown any form for many years. In fact, it is the exception rather than the rule, even up to the present day, for a 2-year-old trotter to race, let alone perform with any degree of success," said Shaw.

"Koro Peter and First Wrack created such Dominion-wide interest that the upshot of it all was that their merit was recognised by the Auckland Trotting Club, which matched them over a mile and a quarter at their June meeting, 1928. The totalisator was opened on the event, and Koro Peter was made favourite. It was a terrible day. The going was fetlock deep in slush, and the two horses had to frighten thousands of seagulls off the track as they went along. These birds frightened First Wrack more than they did Koro Peter, and Koro Peter managed to win after a great struggle all the way up the straight. After the match Koro Peter was sold to Mr G McMillan for 1000 and entered R B Berry's stable, from which he met with a lot of success, First Wrack also reached the top flight of trotters."

"Man o' War was the greatest stayer I ever had," continued Shaw. "He was so clean-winded that he would race on less work than any other horse I have trained. In addition, he had a splendid disposition and was most intelligent. I only had him for about 12 months. He was previously trained by J Bryce, for whom he won two Auckland Cups. The last time I drove Man o' War was a very memorable occasion. It was at Addington when a special day's racing was put on in honour of the American fleet. Man o' War rose to the occasion and won the HMS Hood Handicap, the leading event of the day. This was the worst day that I have ever experienced on a racetrack. There was hail and sleet all day and the races could not be postponed, as this was the only day the fleet could be in Christchurch. Of this particular race I saw only about half; Man o' War came from the back mark and did the job himself. I was absoutely blinded with the slush that was flying everywhere. This may soung incredible, but there are many of the old drivers who will vividly remember it. Some of our mounts had to be led back to the birdcage, as we were driving blind. The morning after the races I woke in daylight but everything was still black. It was hours before my eyesight returned to normal. Most of us had driven all day and our eyes had to be attended to in between races by the doctors present at the meeting. Warplane was a son of Man o' War bred by the late James Pettie, and sold to Mrs Sweetapple for 250. He was a very successful performer over all distances. On the last occasion I brought him to Christchurch - August, 1930 - he won two races in good company, his only two starts at the meeting."

"The Abbey was a good horse I trained, but he had to be humoured. He won several good handicaps for Mr Moodabe. One of his wins was the Whangarei Cup. The Abbey was one of those horses who suffered by the old system of handicapping. I remember one meeting in Christchurch, I won a 4.40 class with him on the first day in 4.29, and he was handicapped the next day in the big race on 4.28 in a 4.29 class, going back 11secs for winning a race which from memory was worth 250 to the winner. He ran second from a 4.28 mark and the found himself in NZ Cup company. Cases such as these," said Shaw, "must make the present-day owner thankful for the existing system of penalties."

"Peter Pirate was one of the best mud horses I ever drove," he continued. "I leased him for Mr Moodabe towards the end of his career, and he won several races. I drove him in four events at an Auckland meeting, for which he was trained by Edgar Kennerley, and he won three and was third in the other. One of his wins was the Adams Memorial Cup. I bought Ironside from Mr H F Nicoll for Mr Hosking for 500. I didn't get on well with this horse, although he won his first race for me, but under G Robertson and later F J Smith, he won good races and stakes running into several thousands. Among his successes were the Ashburton Cup and Adams Memorial Cup."

"The last horse I trained before I was appointed a stipendiary steward was Golden Eagle. She was a really sweet trotter and I was sorry to have to give her up. I bought her from J T Paul on his recommendation for 250 on behalf of Mr Hosking. She won several races, and when I parted with her she was sold to Mr G J Barton for 500. For him she also proved a good winner. Sold to a West Australian owner, she continued to win races in Perth. It was also on J T Paul's recommendation that I bought Not Quite for Mr Hosking and myself," said Shaw.

"The first horse I ever rode in a race was Bribery. He was a wonderful saddle horse, especially over two miles. At that time I was head lad for Mr T G Fox, one of my first employers. Mr Fox was a really considerate boss, and one whose advice I found very valuable in later life. I would like to make some reference to saddle races, particularly straight-out trotters' saddle races. The men who shone in this department some 30 years ago were A Pringle, T Annat, W Orange, J McEwen, F Holmes, and a bit later J McLennan, D Bennett and F G Holmes. In those days when men used to ride in trotting races they were in much better health than they are today, when you very seldom see a horse worked in saddle. I won a lot of saddle races with straight-out trotters and enjoyed them very much though I was never in the first flight of saddle horsemen and had to waste hard to get down to 10st."

"I remember once winning a two mile saddle race on a trotter called Rothmoor giving away starts of up to 28secs. When the limit horses went away I was on the ground putting a martingale on. I had 28secs in which to complete this, mount my horse, and travel down to the starting post to catch my clock under the old system of starting. The present system of starting is far ahead of the old system of the clock. And there is no doubt that the present system of handicapping is also a great improvement on the old order, under which there was a definite encouragement to wait for slow tracks."

Shaw recalled that he won the first Taranaki Cup with Overate, a trotter competing against pacers; and the first Adams Memorial Cup with the imported American stallion Ballin, who had just been converted fron a trotter to a pacer. Another Taranaki Cup winner he trained and drove was Jewel Wood, who also won the Nelson Cup and the first Hawkes Bay Cup in the same season. "The Squire was a trotter I had more than average success with in Auckland," said Shaw. "Mr G McMillan came by him in exchange for a mare named Bingen Jean, and the exchange proved a very good one from our point of view, as The Squire won the two big trotting events at the first Auckland meeting at which we raced him."

Asked about the standard of driving, Shaw said he considered there are equally as many, if not more, expert reinsmen today; but there are considerably more of those who, in his opinion, have not had sufficient experience before being granted a licence. "I think the grading of horsemen a big mistake," he said. "Either a man is capable of driving in any class of race or he is not. The races that we found the hardest to drive in were the maiden races, because here you have the large fields of green horses, and it is in these events that the inexperienced horsemen of today, classified 'C' grade, are found in the largest numbers. I always found it advisable in a race to trail the man, not the horse," said Shaw. "By this I mean that you will invariably get a better run behind an experienced horseman than you will get behind an inexperienced one who in the majority of cases cannot stay put for any length of time. The old hand knows the shortest way round and retains that little in reserve until the right end of the race."

"One of my regrets," continued Shaw, "is the complete dissappearance of the unhoppled pacer. At one time this class of horse was catered by the Auckland Trotting Club by the inclusion of a race for unhoppled horses, which embraced straight-out trotters and free-legged pacers. I won several of these events with a little horse called Nipper. The late A J Julian had a good unhoppled pacer in Haricot, and the late W J Tomkinson won more than his share with that good free-legged mare Pearlie Chimes. But easily the best of this class of horse was Don Wild, who held his own among the best hoppled pacers in the Dominion. I think that if this class of horse was catered for again, so would they be developed. In fact, the way pacers are bred today,they should have less need for straps, and I see no reason why the number of unhoppled pacers should not be considerably multiplied until there are as many of them as there were in Don Wild's day."

Amaris, Fairyland, Gay Paree, Halgana, Arachne, Sal Pointer, Ben Lomond, Warspite, Great Change, Jimmy Richmond, Meritorious, Prinzora, Rustle and Mr Penalty were some of the many other winners of both gaits Shaw trained and drove up to the time he was appointed stipendiary steward to the NZ Trotting Conference in 1937. He held this position with credit to himself and the sport until last year, when he resigned. As stated previously Shaw may return to trotting as an owner and driver with Not Quite (in whom he holds a half-interest with Mr W Hosking), at the New Brighton meeting on September 6. He is assured of a warm reception from the public an his fellow reinsmen.



Credit: 'Ribbomwood' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 20Aug47

 

YEAR: 1947

Worthy Queen & J S Shaw
WORTHY QUEEN

"I am certain, if conditions had been ideal that day she would have trotted two minutes." J S Shaw was discussing his champion of 13 years standing, Worthy Queen, a trotter who made history on a windy, dusty day at Addington in April, 1934, by trotting a mile against time in 2.03 3/5. "It was partly my own fault. There was a gale blowing, and it was the first time she had ever had a horse galloping beside her. I was under the impression I could trail the pacemaker, but was told I couldn't. Over the first three furlongs she was trying to beat the galloper, trying to go faster than she could. She was pulling hard and trotting all in a heap. She was hitched to a short sulky and round the showgrounds bend her hock was hitting my leg. It wasn't until she reached the back straight that she flattened out to really trot. But the first half in 61 1/2 took as much out of her as 58 or 59 would have if she had been trotting kindly.

"She was a really wonderful mare. She didn't know what it was to do anything wrong. She never broke in a race unless something took the legs from under her, which happened on only one occasion to my knowledge. She had her funny little ways," continued Shaw. "On race day you had no chance of driving her on the roads or on to the tracks. She had to be led, and even then she insisted upon stopping now and again to gaze at things. Nothing would thwart her."

Worthy Queen's 2.03 3/5 is not her only record that remains unassailed after 13 years. Her 3.14 1/5 in a race was also established in 1934, and she was clocked from post to post on that occasion in 3.09 - and round the field.

Worthy Queen, by Worthy Bingen from Queen Chimes, a Coldstream Bells mare from Vanquish, was bred by the late J R Corrigan, of Hawera, and sold as a yearling to Mr T Agnew, of Hastings. "A mutual friend of both, the late Harry Jones, saw her trotting in the paddock and told Mr Corrigan what a wonderful filly she was," related Shaw, "with the result that Mr Corrigan leased her back. For him she won several races under the direction of Alex Corrigan and afterwards, when I shifted from Auckland to Christchurch he sent her down to me. That was in 1931. I won several races with her for Mr Corrigan. When he became ill and restricted his racing activities he sold the mare's racing rights to me, and she continued to win races."

"Although Worthy Queen was the best trotter up to a mile and a half ever seen in this country, she was not a top-notch two-miler. The best two-mile trotter I ever had was Peter Dean, by Petereta-Ivy Dean. Mrs Sweetapple and I bought him five minutes before a race on the third day of the Auckland Christmas meeting of 1932. He was 144yds behind in a mile and a half race, and although I had never driven him before, he won; and he also won a two mile race the same day. He cost us 1000, but in the first three months we owned him he won 1025. He won three times and was second in his first four starts for us. Shortly after I brought him to Christchurch he kicked at another horse in an adjoining paddock, injuring himself behind, and although he won races afterwards, he was never sound again. His action changed altogether. I consider he is easily the best two-mile trotter I have ever seen. In a trial before leaving Auckland he came the last half-mile in 61sec and the last quarter in 29sec. When I make this claim I am not forgetting Hardy Wilkes, Electrocute, Bellflower, Submarine, Muricata, Quincey, Whispering Willie, Sea Gift, Trampfast, Wrackler, Huon Voyage, Moneyspider and other great staying trotters."


Credit: 'Ribbonwood' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 20Aug47

 

YEAR: 1889

ROTHSCHILD

Though some may find it hard to concede with the present ever growing list of super sires, there is a strong case for suggesting that the greatest sire that ever stood in NZ is not Light Brigade, U Scott, Jack Potts, Dillon Hall or even Logan Pointer.

Rothschild, now a name that is only come across well back in modern pedigrees has as good a claim as any when it comes to rating sires in order of merit. For one thing he sired over 300 winners. That's a cracking total today but at the turn of the century it was a sensational achievement, difficult to appreciate now. There were fewer meetings then and so fewer races.There were fewer finely bred mares and it took some time for Rothschild to attract the ones that were available. What is more, Rothschild had to do everything on his own achievements. His name appears only once in the list of winning sires, in 1915-16 the first year records were officially kept. But no one doubts that he was the leading sire for many years before that, and had the records been kept he would have more premierships than anyone.

Bred in Australia in 1889, Rothschild was by Childe Harold, an expensive, but somewhat disappointing sire who has Harold Park named after him. Rothschild's dam Belle Briggs was considered to be the best bred mare to come into Australia to that time and but for being unsound it is doubtful that she would ever have left America. Rothschild had a brother called Osterley who was a top rachorse across the Tasman, only Fritz being able to beat him. Dan O'Brien, that most colourful figure of the turf, recommended to NZ friends that they buy Osterley, but they were unable to do so so bought his younger brother instead. It was just as well, for Osterley was a major disappointment at the stud.

Rothschild started in a number of races but never won, and as late as 1902, when 13 years old he was still making the odd appearance, though most owners would have given up by then. He stood at Mr W Jarden's Stud in Gloucester St, Christchurch and his breeding enabled him to command a five guinea fee. The bright bay stallion did not take long to make an impression. From his first crop came a sensational juvenile trotter Jessie Palm who streeted her opponents at two starts at two and went on to become a champion trotter. From his first crop too came The Baron who was a top performer in the last days of the Lancaster Park track in Christchurch.

The following year he produced Almont who was the sensation of his day. When he retired Almont took with him a three mile record of 6:50 which was actually never beaten. When he started his career the record was fully two minutes slower. Sal Tasker was another fine Rothschild mare going 2:20 for a mile at two years of age away back in 1906. She eventually went 2:12 and was the champion of her time. So was Emmeline a NZ mile record holder at 2:08.6 and placed in the NZ Cup. About the same time was the trotter Revenue, holder of the mile trotting record for 22 years with a time of 2:11.8 recorded at Forbury in the saddle. He often took on and beat fields of pacers.

Dan Patch, bred in Ashburton, but perhaps better known in Australia than his homeland, was another fine son of Rothschild. A free-legged pacer, Dan Patch held the Australian mile record of 2:10 for many years and in NZ he went a mile in 2:09.4 on Auckland's grass track. A genuine champion Dan Patch unfortunately died before starting a stud career of any significance.

Rothschild sired three NZ Cup winners. Belmont M upset winner of the 1906 Cup was the first, Albert H in 1912 the second and Ravenschild, second to Albert H the previous year, won easily in 1913. In the 1912 Cup in fact Rothschild horses filled the first three places while other sons and daughters to fill places were Evelyn, Lord Elmo, Moneymaker and Bright.

Harold Rothschild, later a very successful sire was another of Rothschild's offspring to do well and other sons who were fine racherses and sires were Gold Bell (one of the finest pacers the North Island ever saw), St Swithin and Jingle. Master Raymond was an outstanding trotter by Rothschild winning eight times over two miles. Pearlchild, Aileen, Capitalist, Lord Chancellor, Lady Sybil, Emilius and Coin were other very successful racehorses.

If he was a great sire himself Rothschild gained even greater fame through his daughters. Many of his most successful matrons were themselves good on the track and easily the best known was Pearlchild. Winner of many races for Mr H F Nicoll, including the National Handicap, Pearlchild, a daughter of Verity, produced ten individual winners at stud. Among them were three Derby winners (Ciro, Childe Pointer and Nantwich) a successful sire (Casanova), First Wrack, winner of 11 races and outstanding mares Vanity Fair, Pearl Pointer and Double Measure. The great record of the Verity family owes much to Pearlchild. Vanity Fair in particularly was an outstanding broodmare herself.

Another Rothschild mare now well known was Moonbeam, the grandam of Horotane and therefore ancestress of current Broodmare of the Year in Nancy Lee. Henrietta produced Haymetta, the winner of five and in turn dam of Duncraig who won nine. Jessie Fraser produced the successful racehorse and sire Logan Fraser. Cocaleen was the dam of four winners including the earlier mentioned top pacer Moneymaker and Logaleen who won five.

An unnamed Rothschild mare produced Golden Square the dam in turn of Graticulate who won eight. Sweet Daphne was a most successful mare being the founder of the family best known in recent years though the deeds of horses like Bright Highland and Bright Enterprise. Bright Alice, another daughter of Rothschild produced Cup winner Kohara who later did well at stud, and the Rothschild mare Kola Nut produced King Cole the mile recordholder of his day and a very successful sire. It was from King Cole's matings with Norice which has produced one of the greatest breeding lines in the Stud Book, a line commonly associated with veteran breeder Ben Grice.

A mare by Rothschild was the dam of Yenot who gained fame through the deeds of Parisienne and later La Mignon, Garcon Roux etc. Another Rothschild mare was the ancestress of Van Dieman and yet another unnamed mare the founder of the family to which Vanadium and Van Glory belong. Sal Tasker produced Coldstream Bells, a successful sire in the first quarter of the century. Another great Rothschild mare was Ocean Wave, dam of Muricata who produced two champion pacers in Ahuriri (two NZ Cups) and Taraire and who is the fourth dam of the trotting sire Great Evander.

Auckland Girl, who won eight races herself, was another successful mare at stud as was Dollar Princess who produced seven individual winners. Among them was Doraldina, winner of the Sapling Stakes and Derby and who herself produced five winners. Recess, grandam of Aldora was a member of the same family as was Gold Chief a Derby winner and sire of the champion Rupee. Another Rothschild mare Lady Derby founded one of the best branches of the Norice family which includes Maudeen, Queen Maude and Indecision among it's members. A mare by Rothschild founded the Gentle Annie family which claims among others the champion trotter Moon Boy and top pacer of yesteryear in Betty Boop. Then there was Olive Child, dam of Audubon Child, who in a colourful career won eight races.

The full relations Emmeline, Emilius, Aileen and Evelyn did great work for Rothschild's reputation and they may have set a record when three of them appeared in the same NZ Cup field and two were placed. Aileen produced at stud the Cup class pacer Ronald Logan and Emmilene founded a successful family, one prominent recent member being Cuddle Doon. Evelyn won five races herself and was the dam of four winners. Emilius had some success as a sire.

Altogether Rothschild daughters produced over 300 individual winners. Rothschild had much more success than many imported sires as far as his sons were concerned and a number of them are well known stud names. Harold Rothschild did very well down south and as a son of one of Southland's most successful foundation mares in Harold's Rest he played a prominent part in two other big Southland families, particularly in that of First Water whom he sired.

Capitalist sired the fine racehorse and good sire in Gold Bell. Lord Elmo sired some good mares in particular and so did Almont. George M Patchen appears in the pedigree of Cardigan Bay and Globe Bay and another son St Swithin sired the dam of Springfield Globe. Woodchild, Lord Chancellor, Imperial Crown, Proudchild, Prosphorous, St Kevin (a brother to Dan Patch) and Pygmalion, were other Rothschild horses to make an impression at stud while his Cup winner Ravenschild did well also.

Rothschild spent his declining years in the unlikely location of the Wellington Zoo and he died there in the early 20s at the age of 32. Shortly before his death his stock held the Australian and NZ mile pacing records, the Australasian trotting mile record and the world record over three miles. Though he officially topped the sires list once he remained in the top five for many years, even into the 1920s which shows the hardiness of his stock. Indeed his last representative on the tracks was still going in 1929. At one stage in his hey day just before World War I the sons and daughters of Rothschild held every official record in Australasia, a feat few can equal.

He was a horse of quite remarkable disposition and an existing photo of him shows him being confidently led by a lad not five years old. I wonder how many of our much boomed later sires could have fashioned a record equal to Rothschild if serving the class of mare which dominated his court. It might be worth noting that during his stud career Rothschild, in NZ alone sired more winners than the great Globe Derby managed across the Tasman. He was a remarkable influence in the development of the standardbred as we know it, and it would be a brave man who could state with certainty that any of his successors was a greater sire.

Credit: David McCarthy writing in NZ Trotguide 23Mar77



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