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YEAR: 1923

ROBERT McMILLAN

A fatal collision between the West Coast express and a car at Hornby was a front page story early in 1923. Added to the sensation was that Robert McMillan, the car passenger killed, owned the Santa Rosa Farm in Halswell, then the country's most successful Harness stud.

Champion stallion Harold Dillon, and horses like Great Audobon, Nelson Bingen, Brent Locanda and Petereta most of which produced at least one champion, made up the roster. They had made McMillan, who had personally selected many of them, a wealthy man. The driver of the car, severely injured, was his great friend Eugene McDermott, also of Halswell and regarded as the leading non professional horseman in the country.

Canadian-born of Scottish stock, McMillan had worked for a leading American trainer, John Blant for many years before coming to New Zealand and making his way as a trainer, ultimately at Santa Rosa on Nicholls Rd opposite the Halswell Hotel. McMillan had also struck gold when he bought Great Audobon, the first son of the legendary Peter The Great to win a trotting race in New Zealand. He also won as a pacer before siring the NZ Cup winner, Great Hope, with which McMillan won the Great Northern Derby at his first start (1921) before selling on.

McMillan struck up a close association with Etienne Le Lievre of Akaroa who stood his best stallion imports, usually selected by McMillan, at Santa Rosa. At the time of his death McMillan was described as "a real man and one ready to do a good turn to anyone who was a trier". The two Macs, McDermott being of strong Irish stock, had taken a late afternoon drive to Yaldhurst to inspect American imports based with Ben Jarden, one being the later famous stallion Jack Potts.

Soon after McMillan's burial at St Mary's church in Halswell, Santa Rosa was sold to trainer Albert Hendrikson from Templeton and it gradually lost its lustre as a commercial stud, later being used for training by Charles Cameron and others before housing took it over.

McMillan's death had exposed an embarrassing situation in his private life. In 1914, in his late 40's, he had married Madge Green, 24, who had borne him three children in four years. However the marriage broke down and McMillan was ordered by the court on his wife's petition in 1921 to restore her rights, after she was banished from the house. Great Hope's sale may have been part of the settlement because she did not appear in his will, his estate being valued at a considerable 13,000. The children had been cared for by Madge's sister, Miriam, and that apparently continued to be the case after his death. His only son, Peter, later returned to Canada and one of his two sisters died in Arizona.

Eugene Clement McDermott was the son of a professional trainer, John McDermott, originally from Doyleston but based for some years in Domain Terrace. He shifted to Junction Road in Halswell after World War 1 where the family farmed for over 80 years. Eugene, who operated as a stock dealer from an early age, and as a farmer based in Tankerville Road, was a leading trackwork rider at Addington when that was popular and a champion saddle trot race rider on horses like Vilo, Capriccio, Schnapps and Cora Dillon, all trained by his father, besides a host of outside rides. However he resisted pressure to become a professional until late in life for special reasons and never trained a big team.

After the Hornby tragedy McDermott said he would give up owning racehorses and while in later years he relented it was usually only in special cases such as the trotter Garner which he bought for 16 and won many races includig a clean sweep of the features at an Auckland Cup meeting. Ironically it was the death of another close friend, the country's leading trainer, Bill Tomkinson which propelled MsDermott back into the headlines.

Tomkinson suffered minor injuries falling from a drum securing a float door as the team left for Auckland in 1934. Sent home from hospital apparently fit and well he became seriously ill and died within days triggering the biggest Christchurch funeral of the year. The cortege procession was a mile long. McDermott, a pallbearer, had also raced gallopers with Tomkinson and his young son, Jim.

He took over driving the Tomkinson star Indianapolis that year. They won the 1934 NZ Cup but "Mac's" most memorable triumph was with the champion in an odds-on win at Addington the same year. After less than 200m before a very large Addington crowd the hot favourite broke a hopple. Normally he would have been pulled up but Indianapolis seemed to be only keener with the flapping hopple so McDermott decided to let him run for the public's money. The result was a famous hour in Addington history. Indianapolis never missed a beat. He won easily and paced the last 2400m in 3:08.8 - then two seconds inside the national record for that distance and a theoretical world record. McDermott was cheered "to the echo" by grateful punters.

In the 1937 Cup his own luck ran out when he fell from the sulky of Colonel Grattan with about 800m to run, suffering a fatal heart attack. He had told friends before the race if he was leading at that stage Colonel Grattan would win. His son, also Eugene, was taken out of school to help run the family farm.

Later a prominent owner and highly regarded administrator, he had played rugby for Canterbury in the war years. One of his sons, John, also an Addington administrator (his brother Maurice is a stalwart of Banks Peninsula) is now a licensed trainer - like both his great grandfather, 100 years ago and his grandfather. The McMillan racing tradition died that fateful day at Hornby but the McDermott legacy lives on.

Credit: David McCarthy writing in HRWeekly 1May13

 

YEAR: 1965

C KING

The death occurred last week of Mr C King, one of the Dominion's leading reinsmen several years ago.

King was attached to C S Donald's establishment, first at Addington and later at Belfast. King was with Donald for a good number of years and rode and drove many winners from the stable. He won the Ashburton Cup and Easter Handicap with Lindbergh, and also won the Ashburton Cup in 1945 with Happy Man, a horse he was also successful with in the NZ Free-For-All. King also drove Sprayman to win the NZ Sapling Stakes, and Twenty Grand to win the Westport Cup.

After several years with Donald, King transferred to Santa Rosa Farm at Halswell, where he was also successful as a reinsman.

Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 26May65

 

YEAR: 1954

A HENDRIKSEN

The death occurred in Christchurch on Friday of Mr Albert Hendriksen, who about 40 years ago was one of the leading drivers in NZ.

Mr Hendriksen came into prominence when he brought Albert H (which was named after him) from Blenheim for Mr M Mahar just before the 1912 NZ Cup, which he won. Mr Hendriksen then settled in Canterbury, and he drove many winners, including a number for the late Mr W J Morland.

His winners included Country Belle (NZ Cup), Cardinal Logan, winner of many races and second to Kohara in the Cup, Prince Akwood and Peter Mac (NZ Derby Stakes), Erin's King (National Cup), Sungod (Timaru Cup), Hal Junior (Canterbury Handicap), President Wilson and Nantwitch (Great Northern Derby Stakes), and Hustler (Gore Cup).

Mr Hendriksen was for a time studmaster at Santa Rosa Stud, Halswell, when Truman Direct and Real Guy were there.

Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 9Jun54

 

YEAR: 1923

Great Hope with J Bryce Jnr after the 1923 NZ Cup
1923 NEW ZEALAND TROTTING CUP

As the first two decades of Cup competition closed there was a changing of the guards of sorts when Great Hope led home the unlucky Acron, the first 4-year-old to contest the race, in the hands of James Bryce Jnr, who at 21 remains the youngest reinsman to win the Cup, along with Allan Holmes.

In a fine field, they were followed in by Onyx, Willie Lincoln, Albert Cling, Trix Pointer and the winner's stablemate Taraire, the backmarker on 48 yards.

Initially raced by his breeder Robert McMillan and then Joe Corrigan, Great Hope had only been owned for three months by Dunedin sportsman J Trengrove.

He went on to be placed in the next two Cups and was also runner-up to stablemate Taraire in the forerunner to the Inter-Dominion Championship in Perth.

Credit: NZ HRWeekly 1Oct2003

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Great Hope, always well-placed and well-driven by James Bryce junior, held out the four-year-old Acron after a great contest. Bryce, only 21 years nine months, was by far the youngest driver to win a New Zealand Cup, a record he held until 1932, when Allan Holmes, 21 years one month, piloted Harold Logan to victory.

Bracketmates Great Hope and Taraire were the race favourites. The latter, the top money-winner from the previous season, scored a dashing win in the King George Handicap at Addington in August, posting 4:29.6, and qualified within the limit of 4:30. But Taraire was badly treated by the handicapper and shared the back mark of 48 yards with Vilo. As it turned out, Taraire began badly and never showed up during the running.

Great Hope raced three times in August. Earlier in the three-day National meeting he raced prominently in the August and King George Handicaps, but failed to see out the distance, fading in the last 100 yards. In the National Cup on the final day he improved to run third behind Alto Chimes and Onyx.

From the start Bryce positioned Great Hope, from his 12-yard handicap, in behind the leader Paul Default, and they were followed most of the way by Trix Pointer, Vilo, Albert Cling and Willie Lincoln. Snowshoe fell when mixing her gait in the back straight the first time and dislodged Bill Tomkinson. In the back straight the last time Paul Default and Great Hope were driven clear, while Onyx made a forward move and Acron moved up fast on the rails. At the tanks Bryce sent Great Hope away in the lead, and he turned for home on his own, finally winning in 4:31.4 by a length from the fast-finishing and unlucky Acron. Then followed Onyx, Willie Lincoln, Albert Cling, Trix Pointer and Taraire.

Great Hope, a five-year-old, was by the American sire Great Audubon, from Sadie Dillon. He was raced early in his career by his breeder, Robert McMillan, of the Santa Rosa Stud, where Great Audubon stood at a fee of 15 15s. At three, Great Hope was the best of his age, winning the Great Northern Derby at Auckland and the New Zealand Derby at New Brighton. Between these winning runs, McMillan died and the horse passed to Joe Corrigan, a patron of the Bryce stable. After the August meeting, where Great Hope proved disappointing, he was sold again, this time to the Dunedin sportsman, J Trengrove. When presented with the Cup by the Governor-General, Lord Jellicoe, Trengrove expressed his jubilation and good fortune at having owned a horse for only three months and in that time having him win the country's most prestigious race.

Acron was the first four-year-old to contest the New Zealand Cup, but, like so many other extremely good four-year-olds who followed him into the race, the win eluded him. Acron possessed brilliant speed and stamina and for 10 years held the record mile time in New Zealand of 2:03.6. The outstanding youngster of his time, winning the Great Northern and New Zealand Derbies, Acron was the last qualifier for the 1923 New Zealand Cup, winning the Islington Handicap, the last race on the final day of the August meeting, with a superlative performance. He started from 72 yards and beat 17 others to record a time of 4:29.8.

Slow away in the Cup and a long way back early, Acron gradually improved and at the end of the first mile took a place on the inside, at the back of the first group. That proved to be a bad decision because Jack Kennerley could not clear Acron until the race was all but over, though he put in a tremendous run for second. Such bad luck was to dog owner J R McKenzie and his son Roy, who, despite every effort, have failed to land a New Zealand Cup. Yet, between them the McKenzie's have won every other important race on the harness racing calendar and have been leading owners 18 times. J R McKenzie headed the owners' list for the first time in the 1925-26 season.

Acron and Onyx (who ran her usual honest race for third) were by Free Holmes' imported stallion Logan Pointer, then standing alongside his other American import, Rey de Oro, at his Upper Riccarton Stud. Both were successful sires, but Logan Pointer more so. Logan Pointer, foaled in 1909 and imported in 1915, did not race in New Zealand and was first represented on the sires' list in 1918-19. For six seasons, from 1922-23 until 1927-28, and again in 1930-31, he was the country's top sire. Unfortunately, Logan Pointer met a premature end, in 1924, in the prime of his stud duty, when he was kicked by a pony and had to be destroyed. In all, he sired 187 individual winners. His greatest son, without doubt, was pacing idol Harold Logan. Other outstanding performers, in addition to Onyx and Acron, were Prince Pointer, Jewel Pointer, Logan Chief, Cardinal Logan, Logan Park, Native Chief and the trotter Trampfast.

On the second day of the 1923 meeting some excellent performances were recorded by several young horses, none more so than the victory by Logan Chief in the New Zealand Free-For-All, beating Great Hope and Happy Voyage. Logan Chief was one of the stars of the early part of the season, recording three wins and two minor placings from five starts.

Kennerley must have been the envy of most trainers at this time, with Logan Chief, Acron and rising champion Great Bingen in his Belfast stable. But even with this powerful trio, Kennerley trailed James Bryce at the end of the season. Bryce trained 24 winners and drove 28. Kennerley, with 16 training and the same number of driving successes, was runner-up.

A cold easterly made the third day unpleasant. Don Wild, a free-legged pacer, won the Christchurch Handicap from Tatsy Dillon and Trix Pointer. Don Wild continued his good form after this meeting and by the end of the season was the top money-winner with 3202. Free-legged pacers have been a rarity on racetracks in New Zealand and few have made top company. There have been exceptions - Young Irvington, Don Wild, Lawn Derby, Robalan and Final Decision all raced 'without straps' and made it to the top level.

Native King, a son of Nelson Bingen and Norice, won the Dominion Handicap in race-record time of 4:37.2. Native King was a brother to Nelson Derby, sire of Haughty.

The betting at Addington over the three days was 210,436, a decrease of 11,000 on the previous year. The trend continued, as interest, it seemed, had peaked at Addington. Patrons at the track in 1923 were greeted with extentions to the steward's stand. However, the purchase by the club of a large property on Riccarton Road and the proposed transfer of operations away from Addington were much-discussed topics at this time. The Riccarton project never went ahead, although substantial plans were drawn up. Significantly, the track was designed to run clockwise, the opposite way to Addington. The Riccarton land was sold some years later, and it seems that harness racing in Christchurch will forever have its headquarters at Addington




Credit: Bernie Wood writing in The Cup

 

YEAR: 1914

CHARLES KERR

For any top horseman it was a cruel fate. In May, 1914 leading driver, Charlie Kerr, posted a career highlight driving the unbeaten rising star Admiral Wood to win the first New Zealand Derby, then held at New Brighton. It was owned and trained by his brother, Willie, who would soon sell the colt for a staggering price in those days of 1,000. Within hours of the Derby triumph Charlie was on his deathbed aged just 54.

He had driven into the city in what was virtually a road sulky at 6:30pm to celebrate, leaving the city at 10:30pm. Witnesses saw the travelling very fast on Regent Street in Woolston an hour later and soon afterward they collided with a telegragh pole, Charlie was thrown on the road. He suffered a "laceration of the brain" which affected his behaviour in hospital. He refused food until his death a few days later. There were many tributes to the cheerful horseman from Wainoni.

The Kerr family, prominent in the New Brighton area (Kerrs Reach is named after them), had already suffered a tragedy involving horses, when Peter Kerr, who farmed the Sandhills Run (Christchurch only went to the end of Gloucester Street in those days) was also killed in an accident with a horse. Charles and William established a training and breeding property operating seperate training stables at Wainoni, which was eventually called Wildwood Farm. Willie was the senior partner but also a farmer. The brothers had first made their mark at New Brighton beach meetings in the 1880's and came up with horses like Nilreb (his sire Berlin backwards) which won at Springfield from 400m behind and three races in aday at Westport.

Two decisions by Willie Kerr then took them into the big time.He bought the American horse, Wildwood, in the North Island in 1894. Wildwood, an impressive black, was a wild success but also proved there are no certainties in racing. Winner of the first Sires Stakes run in this country and then lightly used as a stallion, he was constantly in training for nearly two years before he returned in 1897 and was regarded as an unbeatable certainty against the best in the land.

Wildwood had been handicapped four seconds however and in the field was a little known pacer from Ashburton called Prince Imperial, who upset the American trotter in sensational circumstances. That led to a famous 1000 match race at New Brighton, by far the biggest stake ever raced for by harness horses in this country. Driven by Willie because his brother was ill, Wildwood norrowly won the first heat (best of three) with something in reserve. He then slaughtered his classy rival in a new Australasian mile record time. He would become a landmark stallion here but died in 1905 when just 12 and at the peak of his powers. Prince Imperial was also an influential stallion.

Willie drove out to Lincoln one day to check out a gelding breeder John Tod had for sale. Instead he was very taken with a filly on the Tod property and bought he for 30. Named Thelma, she was the fifth and last filly from Pride Of Lincoln whose No 1 family has produced champions from Wildwood Junior to Christian Cullen and beyond. A black like his dad Wildwood Junior, a pacer, was the first colonial horse to win a sires premiership here, but was only one of Thelma's outstanding foals. He famously won two NZ Cups in his only starts in those seasons, one in world record time.

Thelma, a fine racehorse, had 16 foals in as many years. Two died, one was unraced and all the rest won at least once. Willowood, brother of Wildwood Junior was never beaten over three seasons (though only one start in each) and like Waverley (a half-brother based later in Southland) was an outstanding stallion. Marie Corelli was a track star and a breeding gem while Authoress, injured before racing and dead at eight, left the champion Author Dillon. Willie sold him as a youngster for 500 to a wealthy local, James Knight, a short time before he also won a Derby.

Willie owned several mares who still hold an influence in sales catalogues and would break in up to 15 yearlings of his own a year, big numbers then. Most were for sale - a sort of pioneer Ready to Run concept. No other New Zealand mare has matched the extraordinary lagacy of Thelma as the Akaroa Trotting Club has noted for many years now.

Like many trainers then the Kerr brothers, though popular figures, had their moments with authorities. One notorious case involved Wildwood at Plumpton Park. On the first day when hot favourite he was well beaten and stablemate Sing Sing (ancestress of the Moose family) won at nice odds. On the second day Wildwood, driven by Charlie, had a special light cart attached and won easily. The public and authorities were not amused especially as the brothers made no secret that they backed the champion heavily on the second day as he had only been in work for eight weeks. Administrators found changes justified but moaned about the "public image of the sport with these sort of incidents."

Charlie's death seemed to turn the tide against Wildwood Farm. Santa Rosa, the first fully Commercial standardbred stud and Coldstream became the industry leaders. Willie may also have lost some interest though he lived until 1951. In 1921 he sold up all his horses except Wildwood Junior who was passed in. He got over 2000 for the others. In 1924 he sold the farm to Harry Aker who had the champion mare Waitaki Girl and the ill fated fated Peter Chenault. Later the Bussell family trained there.

The Kerr name remained a force in harness racing for decades after Willie and Charlie but never like the dramatic years of Wildwood and Thelma.

Credit: David McCarthy writing in HRWeekly 29May13

 

YEAR: 1911

Lady Clare and driver Jack Brankin
1911 NEW ZEALAND TROTTING CUP

Lady Clare, the second mare to win the New Zealand Cup, was a six-year-old by Prince Imperial from Clare, who was by Lincoln Yet, the sire of Monte Carlo.

Her trainer, James Tasker, who had been successful with Marian in 1907, took the drive behind her more favoured bracketmate Aberfeldy, and entrusted the drive behind Lady Clare to Jack Brankin. The Cup field was not a strong one, with Wildwood Junior out of the way. Also missing from nominations was King Cole, the star of the August meeting. King Cole, winner of the King George Handicap from Bribery and Dick Fly, and the National Cup from Havoc and Bright, had been temporarily retired to stud. The club received 14 nominations, but the early favourite, St Swithin, was injured and withdrawn. Sal Tasker, who had not raced for four years, and Manderene were two other defections. The front starter, Imperial Polly, received five seconds from the back marker, Bright. Al Franz, because of some outstanding trials, was race favourite, with the bracketed pair of Dick Fly and Redchild, from the stable of Manny Edwards, also well supported. Redchild was the only trotter entered.

The field did not get away at the first attempt because Free Holmes, the driver of Bribery, jumped the start. Medallion stood on the mark and took no place in the race, while Bribery went only one lap and then pulled up lame. Lady Clare led from the start and at the halfway stage was still in front, followed by Al Franz, Dick Fly, Imperial Polly, Aberfeldy, Havoc and Redchild. The mare held on to the lead to win by a length, in 4:38, from Dick Fly, with necks to Al Franz and Redchild. Then came Aberfeldy, Bright and Havoc.

The Cup victory was the last of Lady Clare's seven career wins, but she showed her durability by racing over eight seasons. Indirectly, she featured again in the Cup in 1988, when Luxury Liner turned the clock back 77 years. Lady Clare was the firth dam of Luxury Liner. Lady Clare's 700 from the Cup stake of 1000 sovereigns was the only money she won during the season. Emmeline, an outstanding mare by Rothschild from Imperialism, a Prince Imperial mare, won 949 and was the season's top earner. Rothschild and Prince Imperial were both still standing at stud in the Canterbury area. Rothschild was at Durbar Lodge, in Ashburton, available at a fee of 10 guineas. Prince Imperial and his son, Advance, stood at James McDonnell's Seafield Road farm, also in Ashburton. Prince Imperial's fee was also set at 10 guineas, but Advance was available at half that rate. Franz, the sire of Al Franz (third in the Cup), stood at Claude Piper's stud at Upper Riccarton, at 10 guineas. Franz was a full-brother to Fritz, by Vancleve from Fraulein.

A new surname at that time, but a very familiar on now, Dan Nyhan, introduced another great harness racing family to Addington. Nyhan trained at Hutt Park and ha won the 1909 Auckland Cup with Havoc. He was the father of Don Nyhan, later to train the winners of three New Zealand Cups with his legendary pair of Johnny Globe and Lordship, and grandfather of Denis Nyhan, who drove Lordship (twice) and trained and drove Robalan to win the Cup.

Of all the stallions in Canterbury, Wildwood Junior commanded the biggest fee, 12 guineas, but he held that honour only until 1914, when Robert McMillan, an expatriate American horseman, stood his American imports Nelson Bingen and Brent Locanda at fees of 15 guineas at his Santa Rosa stud at Halswell. He also had Harold Dillon and Petereta on his property. Harold Dillon, sire of the champion Author Dillon, was the top sire for six seasons, from 1916-17 until 1921-22, while Petereta gained some fame by siring the double New Zealand Cup winner Reta Reter.

The outstanding feature of the 1911 Cup meeting was the introduction of races restricted to trotters, particularly the Dominion Handicap. The move, prompted by the Metropolitan Club, came at an appropriate time to save horses of this gait from extinction in New Zealand racing. In the 1880s and 1890s there were two trotters for every pacer in New Zealand, but by 1911 the reverse ratio applied. With the advent of the sulky and harness from the United States, trainer in the 1890s found pacers easier to gait and easier to train, and learned that they came to speed in less time, so many trotters were converted to the pacing gait. Generally, the trotter could not match the pacer on the track.

Coiner won the Middleton Handicap on the first day, in saddle, and raced over two miles in 4:52. Quincey, who had been successful against the pacers on several occasions, got up in the last stride to dead-heat with Clive in the Dominion Handicap, with Muricata, a promising five-year-old, third. Muricata became the dam of double New Zealand Cup winner Ahuriri. The Dominion Handicap carried a stake of 235 sovereigns and was raced in harness for 5:05 class performers. Quincey's time was 4:37.4 slightly faster than Lady Clare recorded in the Cup on the Tuesday. Another of the 13 trotters in this race was the Australian-bred Verax, who started in the New Zealand Cup six times.

The meeting ended with some high-class racing on Show Day. In the Enfield Handicap, in saddle, Aberfeldy, from scratch, beat 14 rivals in 2:12.6, a New Zealand race-winning record for one mile. St Swithin, who had to miss the Cup, won the Christchurch Handicap from Emmeline and Little Tib. The Andy Pringle-trained pacer confirmed how unfortunate it was for his connections that injury denied him a Cup start.

Further improvements had been made at Addington, with a large new 10-shilling totalisator housebeing used for the first time. With bookmakers outlawed, the totalisator turned over a record 27,418 on Cup Day, and betting on the Cup of 6096 10s was a single-race record. The total for the three days of the carnival of 68,329 was an increase of 17,440 over the previous year.


Credit: Bernie Wood writing in The Cup

 

YEAR: 1903

HAROLD DILLON

Bred in California in 1903 Harold Dillon was imported as a yearling by Mr E T Le Lievre of Akaroa who played a major part in the development of the standardbred at that time. What Mr Le Lievre's reactions were when he first saw his new purchase cannot be guessed at but Harold Dillon turned out to be a very small horse and he never grew a great deal, being little more than a pony until the day he died.

Tried as a racehorse Harold Dillon was not a success but his breeding future received a boost when a member of his first small crop (he was used at the stud before he was 2 years old) won the Futurity Stakes at the Addington Easter meeting of 1909 which was an important race in it's time. This was Dillon Bell who reached the best classes, and another to do well from an early crop was Moa Bell who also won a number of races.

Harold Dillon had mixed patronage early on but once he was transferred to the Santa Rosa Stud at Halswell near Christchurch under a master horseman in Bob McMillan his stocks received a boost. Like many sires some of his stock acquired doubtful reputations which for a time threatened his own career but in the end his progeny were so successful on the track that he downed the critics and became a great sire.

Harold Dillon was leading sire for five seasons from 1916 until 1921 taking over from Rothschild and conceding leadership to Logan Pointer though he was second and third to that sire for a number of years.He produced 182 individual winners which was an excellent record for the day. His best one was the brilliant Author Dillon the Robalan of his time whose record of 18 wins and 14 placings would have been much better but for the ridiculous handicapping of the day which saw him giving away long starts to good fields. He won three NZ Free-For-Alls and was virtually unbeatable in these types of races. Like all the Harold Dillon breed he was as tough as old boots and raced from three to nine years for his record. He was a top juvenile pacer as well and was a surprising success as a sire, his mares going particularly well, producing among others Marlene (NZ Cup), Indian Clipper and Knave of Diamonds. He himself sired among others Queen Auditor who won 13 races and produced the top mare of the 50s in White Angel.

Cello Sydney Wilkes, himself little more than a pony was another top winner for Harold Dillon and among his 11 wins was the feat of winning four races at the Cup meeting which only one other horse has done, this being Cardigan Bay. Adonis another stallion on the small side was perhaps the best pacer of them all and was also a successful sire featuring prominently in the Misfortune family. Waitaki Girl by Harold Dillon won 14 races and nearly $12,000 in stakes winning the feature race at the Canterbury Park Winter Meeting four years in succession. Some of the Harold Dillons were great mudlarks one being Sungod who reached Cup class and was placed in that event. Sungod was a sire of note himself and sired All Sunshine, an ancestress of Lunar Chance.

John Dillon was another top class pacer and quite the fastest beginner seen up to his time. He started in several Cups but was a better sprinter than a stayer. The late 'Dil' Edwards claimed that John Dillon once did a quarter in 28 seconds in training at Addington which was sensational in those days. Other Cup class performers by Harold Dillon were Antonio Oinaki (also a successful sire) Dolly Dillon and Lord Dillon.

As a broodmare sire Harold Dillon was also successful his daughters producing over 200 winners, though he was more successful with his male line than some imported sires. Two from Harold Dillon mares were Pot Luck and Parisienne winner and runner-up in the 1938 Inter-Dominion Championship. Dilworth was a national recordholder and Reporter a top class performer, Grace Dillon was the grandam of Roschana the dam of Cardinal Garrison. Highland Princess was the dam of the winners of 31 races. Eileen Dillon was the dam of Acuity (7 wins) who in turn produced Poranui and the champion Australian pacer Jackie Scott. Prolific was the dam of Manoeuvre who won eight races while Tatsy Dillon who herself won the Dunedin Cup is the founder of a successful family including Tatsydale and the good trotters Merrin and Ali Bey.

Connie Dillon was a great producer for the Benny family of Springston and included in her offspring or descendants are Gold Peg (9 wins) the grandam of the ill-fated Balcairn, Royal Fame (8 wins) Royal Counter (10 wins)and others. Sakatawea the dam of Star Classic belongs to this family. Another successful Harold Dillon mare was Flossie Dillon dam of Sonoma (Methven Cup), Tom Thumb (8 wins) and Pat Dillon ancestress of a champion trotting family including Waitaki Hanover of whom she was grandam. Protector, the sire of Nigel Craig has Harold Dillon blood through his 3rd dam Muriel Dillon.

At Santa Rosa where Harold Dillon stood for most of his career until his death in 1929 there are no horses now, just rows and rows of houses. The stud may have gone and Harold Dillon may have gone but his influence on our bloodstock cannot be erased nearly as easily.

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David McCarthy writing in NZ Trotguide 18Nov76

We cannot let the stud career of Harold Dillon go without adding to his list a mare which we inadvertently missed at the time. This was Mirie Dillon who founded a line of fine winners for Colin McLaughlin of Mt Hutt. She was the grandam of Allakasam and ancestress of Royal Ascot. Adding further to his list was Sadie Dillon the dam of the 1923 Cup winner Great Hope.


Credit: NZ Trotguide 11Nov76



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