CLICK HERE TO GO BACK

RACING PUBLICATIONS

 

YEAR: 2017

HARNESS SCRIBES AND SEVEN OF THEIR PAPER STEEDS

Everything changes so it is said (though sometimes "and nothing changes at all" is an added proviso) and few things have altered over more than a century of racing publications. They start, they thrive and than they die - onlt for replacements more suited to the times to spring to life.

Some regard this as a weakness when it is a strength. Adapting new ideas is an essential for any business. So we thought we would say goodbye to Harnessed by recalling the valiant and successful attempts to market harness racing in previous eras. And especially the talented scribes who rode the publishing waves.

As you will see many survive long after their flagships eventually sank.

THE NEW ZEALAND REFEREE

The first publication to dedicate space to trotting it was a weekly founded in 1884 which later became the Office Calendar for both racing codes. The Christchurch Press bought it in 1891 to merge with its Weekly Press and it stasyed that way until the middle of the 1920's when i shifted base to Wellington. It "died" after a lengthy illness in 1939.

One of the main suppliers of copy in it's heyday was Fred Thomas (writing as "Templar") a breeding and racing expert who also produced the first volume of the Trotting Stud Book in 1905, All of this was incredibly difficult then. He was still contributing features on the sport into the 1950's.

Another standout was a contributor and later editor, John Olliver, whose cricketing family was closely connected with the founding of trotting in Christchurch. His early death accelerated the end of the Referee era.

Some early trotting writers were men of influence. W G Garrard was a rugby test referee and a leading cricket journalist on first name terms with some of the greats of that game. He was still supplying season statistics to the Trotting Calendar shortly before his death in 1944. Thomas Davey, another early trotting scribe, was a Member of Parliament and also Mayor of Christchurch.

THE TROTTING ANNUAL

Moa Publications discovered a mini goldminein the 1970's producing hard-backed, easy to read reviews of the season in several different sports. The Trotting Annual, sponsored for many years by Bominion Breweries, kicked off in 1972 with Auckland Star identity Ron Bisman as editor and contributions fron Norman Pierce, Mike Grainger and even Lord Langford who led a movement to make the sport popular in England.

The Annual was on most harness fan's wish list for Xmas for many years and sets were carefully collected and stored. Some still are. Dave Cannan, a highly regarded harness writer for the Christchurch Star and author of Unhoppled Heros, was a remarkable compiler of statistics and took over the editorship in 1981 with Don Wright the man from the south along with Otago's Taylor Strong and northerner Leo George among those adding support. He handed over to Jeff Scott, later trotting editor of the Christchurch Press ans now a website editor, in 1985.

Bisman returned in 1990 as public interest started to waneand Moa the exited. With Alan Meadows (Meadowset Graphics), Bisman produced a colourful 1994 edition and then a handsomevolume in 1998 with the highlights of intervening years. But it failed to sell and the game was over. In its time however, the "Annual" was hot property and the volumes remain a great source of ststistical information today. Televised racing and video recording however, started a terminal bleeding that could not be stopped.

THE TROTTING CALENDAR

A pubilication called Racing and Trotting Digest briefly carried industry essentials (programmes) through the 1930's until a frustrated Trotting Conference established the New Zealand Trotting Calendar in 1938 under contract with top journalist Karl Scott and his brother Wattie. They produced and printed the paper and Charlie Craig (NZ Herald) and his successor Pat Naden were among contributors along with southerner Norm Pierce. Harry Jarden was another leading trotting journalist in Christchurch at that time and also a member of a famous racing family.

Karl Scott, a man of many talents, was the first to write a book in this country specifically on harness racing back in 1949 (Pillars of Harness Horsedom) though he later claimed he made more from his rural activities than from printing publications.

The Calendar was a rather simple volume of limited pages full of official notices and annoted results. Meetings were covered, an economical easy to read "pithy pars" style popular in that era covering a meeting with many titbits rather than a lengthy article. It was only sold to the public from a few outlets. In later years it broughtin new blood like Ron Bisman and Mike Grainger but the focus remained very much on the needs of industry participants.

THE TROTGUIDE

The Trotguide was a controversial move in the early 1970's with the familiar aim of widening the appeal of the industry publication. It involved the "Calendar" to Lower Hutt where it was produced under its new title by INL Print, publishers of the Friday Flash, NZ Racing Calendar, Turf Digest and the once very popular monthly Hoof Beats which was also seeking a new audience. It also now produced the Year Book of results a printing contract previously held by the Scotts. HRNZ discontinued that many years ago.

Tony Williams was the chief Canterbury contributor with enthusiasts such as Peter Larkin, Shelley Caldwell etc among the freelance supporters. The decision to move the publication caused resentment in Canterbury with a suggestion the Conference Executive at the time had been overly swayed by northern interests. The experiment was not a success from several points of view and especially the ill feeling which followed it from Christchurch.

THE NZ TROTTING CALENDAR(2)

In 1977 the Trotting Conference negotiated a contract with Tony Williams to edit the weekly publication in Christchurch with the proviso it regained its old title of the Calendar - reflecting earlier tensions. The venture, with Frank Marrion as a long time assistant, proved a success and especially from an advertising perspective, classier presentation along with lively content. Williams also reprinted the early Stud Books. Richard Turnbull provided a lot of northern content.

The arrangement lasted nine years but again there was not complete happiness in the camp when it ended. Terms could not be agreed. The advertising growth William had achieved was a major attraction and HRNZ decided to "bring the Calendar home".

THE HARNESS RACING WEEKLY

The new publication, under the editorship of Marrion and with pro-active former daily newspaper reporter Matt Conway among a livewire team, made another attempt to widen the market, publishing late in the week with full race day coverage to match the big boys along with hard hitting stories. Ther HRW was a competitor production-wise but again it didn't make the progress hoped for and so distribution costs, the cause for many closures over the years, became prohibitive.

Marrion left in 1987 for a breeding industry position (he would return later) and eventually Mike Grainger was appointed editor and Michael Guerin continued the tradition of NZ Herald contributions from the north. Michele Harris later became another important cog in the wheel and laterly Katie McNamara and Stacey Markham (nowMedia Manager) assisted among others the same general content was retained but in reduced form with earlier deadlines and lower costs. Printed by the Ashburton Guardian for many years if rarely, if ever, went over budget.

The Weekly remained a popular read for fans until, again because of increasing costs, the decision was made to move to a monthly under the editorship of Matt Markham with input from Michelle Harris, Courtney Clarke and Stacey Markham in 2015. It was a professional publication and gained strong reviews but there were practical disadvantages. Mainly, however, the "Weekly" proved too strong a tradition to erase and is niw due to return.

THE DAILIES

Newspapers increased their coverage of racing before and following World War II as a result of growth in the industry never since matched. 25 years ago city newspapers had full racing departments and a staff of at least six, sometimes with three reporters covering one code on race day before computers took over much of the routine work.

Even smaller provincial papers (Timaru Herald etc)had a specialist racing winter. Few papers now even carry full time specialist racing writers in what is a dramatically different working canvas. The wheel has gone full circle but the dailies retain somewhat basic coverage and fields.

Geoff Yule(The Press) and Pat Naden(NZ Herald) served 37 years and 35 years respectively as harness editors until the late 1980's, Yule being the first Kiwi daily journalist to cover an Australian InterDominion for a daily.

Bisman was ever present and Pierce and Wright spent similar stints in Southland and Strong in Otago. A number of their pupils moved on to greater things. Ron Bisman was an instition at the Auckland Star and also wrote several books, including a biography of Cardigan Bay and the momumental Salute to Trotting. With Taylor Strong he also wrote a history of the InterDominions.

A number of scribes from 30 years ago are still active in some way but the era of the full time specialist writer is almost over. Ironically many early trotting writers were known as "sporting writers" reflecting how they needed to cover more than one area to gain work. John Ollivier in the Referee, for example, covered trotting topics but was also the theatre critic for the paper.

THE OTHER WEEKLIES

Two of the best-known - the Friday Flash and the Truth were hugely popular at their peak but neither survive, though industry support helps The Informant and Turf Digest to carry on the Flash traditions.

Truth had a comprehensive racing coverage pushing controversy and more colourful writing as its point of difference. At its peak it sold 200,000 copies but gradually declined as "sensational" subjects (divorce; sex crimes) previously avoided by leading dailies, became part of the mainstream reporting. Truth demanded controversy and colour and woe betide the reporter who tried to avoid it. Some of its anonymous form par writers used codes(one, using a par such as "Good Day finding it difficult to regain form" actually meant to be on Good Day next start).

Its most notable modern editor was Ray O'Connor who balanced the news and the controversy fairly. In some ways Truth was a victim of its own success as vastly improved structures and systems removed a lot of controversy from harness racing.

The Friday Flash reached a Cup Week print peak of 35,000 in the 1970's but was down to around 3000 at the time of its demise in 2006. Those numbers are about on par with leading current publications. It offered superior previews and trial form as well as trackwork to punters along with a dash of colour and newsy columns. Des Coppins is most remembered among the editors and was followed by colurful Aucklander Bob Lovett who increased trotting content but unhappily, not sales.

The Sunday papers featured racing with full time staff writers for many years but none now employ them. When Barry Lichter took charge of the Sunday Star Times harness coverage increased even it proved a two edged sword for some of the more sensitive in the game. Again blanket television coveragemade even Sunday's news seem out of date.

THE INTERNET

Harness racing was quick to adapt to the computer age dating back to the 1980's and has continued to provide most of what fans and professionals need in the modern age. Victor Rolton(HRNZ) has been an industry leader in that field and Colin Steele od Addington Raceway has placed thousands of stories from times past on the Addington Raceway Timeline.

Frank Marrion posted another first with his online only news and tipping site Harness Express which eliminated distribution costs and pointed the way to the future.

Leading players also established their own sites carrying stable or industry news. This has been a challenge for commercially printed and sold news and form guides though "holding on to the page" still strongly appeals especially to older readers.

CHANGING TIMES

Early racing reporters wrote stories in longhand, had to use public transport and needed to be good handlers of pigeons to send the race results. The Press building demolished in the 2011 eathquake still had a Pigeon Loft which was used until the 1940's. Before the mid 1930's reporters could be and often were expected to work 100 hours a week if required and $10 was a princely weekly wage without overtime. Most were "stringers" working part time for the paper. In newspaper offices younger writers had to wait their turn to get a story published and much of their work was less interesting, largely involving preparation work for fields.

Technology revolutionised the profession through the 1990's computers, televised races, fax machines, then internet, emails and social media made everyone a potential critic on racing. Modern reporters needed to be more versatile using radio and tv interests either part of their contract or a pathway to the future. In the print media heyday no reporter dare take a job on radio. It was the competition.

As we said. Everything changes. But then maybe, as we also said, nothing really changes at all.


Credit: David McCarthy writing in Harnessed July 2017

 

YEAR: 2016

MATCH RACING

In the earliest days of trotting in NZ, match races proved popular tests of speed and stamina as well as the avenue for gambling. Most tests were run over the distance of three miles although several were often of greater length - journeys of ten to twelve miles with a minimum weight limit of eleven stone. An example of this was a race run from Dunstan to Cromwell approximately 12 miles over hill and down dale on a rough road.

As early as 1864 match races were being held in South Canterbury where local champion cob Tommy(H Waldon) had won six races by mid 1865. Match races were popular in the area with distance events being run from Makikihi to Waimate(approx. 19kms) and Washdyke to Temuka(approx. 15kms). Wagers of amounts as large as 100 were placed. In 1868 a match for 200 a side was held on the Silverstream course near Dunedin between Flora Temple(E Pritchard) and Tommy(Horace Basting). Both owners rode their steeds in a race won by Flora Temple in a time of 9 minutes 39 seconds.

In the 1870s in the Wanganui area, a 16 mile race from Oroua Bridge to the Club Hotel Palmerston North and back was contested by Millie trained and ridden by Tom Hammond from York Farm near Marton. Hammond had predicted that Millie could run the journey in under one hour. Millie, of unknown pedigree, ran the 16 miles in 55 minutes with Ron Bisman remarking in Salute To Trotting that 'Hammond...made good time. Arriving in Marton, he quaffed a shandy and pressed on'.

In Christchurch in the mid 1870s, a 12 mile race on Yaldhurst Road for 200 a side, took place between Black Boy(rider J Hamilton, breeder Mr Deans of Homebush) who trotted the distance in 36 minutes easily accounting for Hammond's Millie(now owned/trained by Frank Evans of Bulls and hotelkeeper of Rutland Hotel, Wanganui). It was stated that the straps on a breastplate cutting into her shoulder was the cause of Millie's defeat. She later raced in wagon with Marmion and also served in the Marton coach.

Another match race took place between W Kirkwood's Our Pony and Jenny(B Hale) between the Heathcote Bridge to the Caversham Hotel(later King George) on the corner of Madras Street and Ferry Road, Christchurch. Our Pony won by 200 yards earning an unknown but large stake. Subsequently taken to Dunedin, Our Pony(rider W Thompson) competed at Tahuna Park over three miles on the second day of 1881 Dunedin Jockey Club's Cup meeting for a 200 a side purse against Native Cat. Our Pony, won easily by 5 seconds(rider W Thompson, stockman for mercantile firm) from Native Cat(scr) ridden by Harry Goodman in 8 minutes 30 seconds. Match races remained popular with another taking place between Mr Harry Murfitt's Drain Road and Mr Core's Polly at Rangiora for 75 a side. On Lincoln Road, Christchurch(close to current Addington Raceway site), a match between Mr Archie Muir's Dick and champion mare Doctor's Maid was won by Dick by two chains.

A good example of a match race was held at Forbury Park on Monday 30 November 1885, the second day of Dunedin Jockey Club's spring meeting. This was also believed to be the South Island's first trotting race in harness(as opposed to saddle). The race over 3 miles for 50 a side was between Mr A Drake's Dot off scratch and Mr G Smith's Constance receiving 300 yards start. The Otago Daily Times of 1 December 1885 reported:
"Mr Drake's pony - a pretty little thing with splendid action - settled down to trot in earnest after about half a mile had been gone, and had made up 100 yards of the concession at the end of the first mile. Constance was trotting steadily, but continued to lose ground at a great rate in the second mile, and in coming round to the stand again Dot passed her, this virtually finished the race. Mr Drake pulled in his little mare during the third mile, but trotted away again in the straight a very comfortable winner."

The journey had been covered in 12 minutes 33 seconds, a full 4 minutes 25 seconds slower than Tommy had recorded to win the handicap trotting race on the first day of the meeting on Saturday 28 November. This possibly says as much about the carts used, heavy. high wheeled, bone shaking contraptions with steel wheels, as it does about the superiority of Mr Drake's pony(with acknowledgement to the unpublished history of trotting at Forbury Park).

A New Zealand record for trotters was established during a match race between Wildwood and Prince Imperial at New Brighton on 24 September 1896. Wildwood recorded a time of T2:24.2/5TT. In his time he had been known to trot a half mile in 1:06.2/5 on Henry Mace's track at New Brighton(eventually purchased by New Brighton Trotting Club).

FRITZ v RIBBONWOOD:
Fritz, the great Australian trotter was by Vancleve from Fraulein, dam also of very good performers Freda, Franz, Frederick, The Heir and Prinz. Fritz is best remembered in NZ for a series of match races against Ribbonwood(Wildwood/Dolly) conducted on the first day of the NZMTC's three-day Easter carnival on Saturday 11 April 1903. It was one of the biggest attractions for trotting attracting interest both locally and throughout Australia. Dave Price, Ribbonwood's owner/trainer/driver issued a challenge to race any horse Australasia-wide for 500 a side, best three of five heats over a mile with each side putting up 500 or 1000 sovereigns in total for the match race. The NZMTC put up a 100 gold cup or the cash if Ribbonwood's 2:11.2/5 Australasian record was bettered. A full copy of the match race conditions agreed between Dave Price(Ribbonwood) and John Arthur Buckland through his agent Claude Piper(Fritz) can be found in Karl Scott's "Pillars of Harness Horsedom".

The crowds flocked in from all over the country - by steamer from Wellington and special excursion trains from throughout the South Island. There were many attendees also from Australia. The crowd included the country's Premier, the Right Hon. Richard John Seddon, numerous public figures and representatives of the Canterbury Jockey Club.

Matching a 4yo black NZ pacing stallion against a then 12yo bay Australian trotting gelding was likely to lead to only one result especially as Buckland had little time to ready Fritz for the match race. So it proved, before a crowd of 11,000, age won out as Ribbonwood comfortably outshone Fritz over 3 heats in mile times of 2:14.1/5, 2:13.0 and 2:10.0(new NZ record). The NZMTC then put up 100 if Ribbonwood could beat 2:10. A week later on day three of the Easter meeting, Ribbonwood lowered his NZ record to 2:09.0TT, a time which stood until beaten by his son King Cole(2:08.3/5TT) in August 1911. It is worth noting that the Addington track in those days was just under five furlongs in circumference without the banking or surface it had in latter years.

It must be acknowledged that both Fritz and Ribbonwood were great horses, superior to others of their day. Fritz was undisputed champion of Australia up until the time of the match race while Ribbonwood was the up and coming dominant horse in the Dominion. Fritz was past his best at the time of the challenge but Buckland, a true sportsman, took up the challenge although knowing the advantage lay with the younger horse. Fritz was reported by Buckland to have been working private trial miles in 2:06.0 at home but that was not to be the case when it mattered.

NATIVE CHIEF v GREAT BINGEN:
This flying one-mile exhibition match race was held at NZMTC's summer meeting on 11th February 1928 at Addington. Following five false starts, Native Chief(Logan Pointer/Regina De Or)driven by Jack Kennerley led throughout to defeat Great Bingen(Drum Withers) by three lengths in a time of 2:04.1/5 with thew first half in a minute(NZ record was Acron's 2:03.3/5 set in 1924).

KORO PETER v FIRST WRACK:
A match race between 2yo trotters was unheard of until Wednesday 27 June 1928 when the Auckland Trotting Club scheduled the 2yo Trotters' Challenge Stakes(175 sovs of which 25 sovs went to the loser), a race between the gelding Koro Peter(Peter Moko/Koro Ena) and filly First Wrack(Wracker/Pearlchild) over 1m. They were the first 2yo trotters to show any sort of form for many years. Koro Peter(owner/trainer/driver T Cooper) had won the Introductory Hcp(1m) over a large all age field(23 starters) by 1 lengths(T3:54.2/5) at Cambridge's annual meeting on 5 May 1928.

He was immediately sold for 500 to Mrs I E Sweetapple, who became one of Jack Shaw's major Auckland owners. First Wrack, bred and owned by Harry Nicoll had finished third in open company(as a 2yo against 22 other starters) in the Allenton Hcp(1m) at Asnburton on 21 April 1928(winner Author Thorpe in T3:43.2/5). The totalisator fielded on the event with Koro Peter favourite for the North/South battle.

In Ron Bisman's Harness Heroes, Jack Shaw recalls, "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."

Koro Peter, driven by Jack Shaw beat First Wrack(Dan Warren) by 2 lengths in T3:34.2/5. Koro Peter was sold after the match race to G McMillan for 1,000 and subsequently performed well from Roy Berry's Yaldhurst stable(leading stake earning trotter 1930). First Wrack also became a top class trotter(Sockburn/Middleton Hcp Trots).

INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP TROTTERS MATCH:
This match race was held at a NZMTC meeting at Addington on 4 February 1933 for a stake of 200 sovereigns to the winner. The 1 flying start event was won by Durbar Lodge's Wrackler(tr: Jack Behrns, dr: Maurace Holmes) by 1 lengths in a time of 3:18.0. The placegetters were Olive Nelson(2nd), Todd Lanzia(3rd), Stanley T(4th) with Peterwah the other starter.

WALLA WALLA v REST
Without doubt the most star-studded match race series ever undertaken in NZ was held in the autumn of 1934. The NZMTC made arrangements for Australian champion and glamour pacer Walla Walla(1922 Globe Derby/Princess Winona) to contest a series of seven match races held throughout the country involving Harold Logan(1922 Logan Pointer/Ivy Cole), Red Shadow(1927 Travis Axworthy/Our Aggie), Roi L'Or(1923 Rey De Oro/Gold Queen), Jewel Pointer(1921 Logan Pointer/Jewel Chimes), Lindberg(1925 Author Dillon/Taruna Mary), Impromptu(1926 Pedro Promptu/Petrova) and Auburn Lad(1924 Globe Derby/Velocity) among others. These contests were enthusiastically received by the racing public with even track work of invited horses creating great interest weeks before the clashes.

Red Shadow was installed as favourite for these races with the first invitation race run over a mile(500) on opening day of Addington's Easter carnival(Saturday 31 March 1934). Walla Walla (dr: Billy McKay, Owner: L S Martin) before a crowd of 22,000 began very fast setting a new world's best time from a standing start of 2:04.1/5 narrowly beating Harold Logan by a neck with Red Shadow in third place three lengths away. Walla Walla did not acclimatise well and was not seen at his best during the remainder of the match race series. Harold Logan was to the fore in the remaining six races beginning with Addington's second day of the Easter carnival(Wednesday, 4 April). Walla Walla put his foot through Jewel Pointer's cart and sidelined his chances with a mile to run, leaving Harold Logan(driven throughout the series by Maurice Holmes for owner E F C Hinds) to pace a slow 3:16.2/5 for 1m(500) winning by length from Red Shadow, Lindbergh and Jewel Pointer.

At Auckland's Autumn meeting (Saturday 28 April), Harold Logan led throughout to win again over 1m(300) by 1 lengths on a soft track from Walla Walla, his stablemate Auburn Lad, Red Shadow and Jewel Pointer in 2:45.2/5. At the Northland club's annual meeting held at Alexandra Park(Monday, 30 April), C Moran's Impromptu(dr: Jack Shaw) defeated Red Shadow by a short neck with Harold Logan third after drifting off the rails at a vital stage. They were followed in by Auburn Lad, Lindbergh and Worthy Light in the 1m(200) journey on a muddy track in 2:42.2/5. Walla Walla did not start.

Next it was Forbury Park's turn(Wednesday 9 May) where the muddy Track was so bad horses were required to race in the middle of the track. Harold Logan beat Walla Walla(the only starters) who had set a strong early pace by half a length over 1 mile(250) in 2:13.1/5. Moving onto Oamaru three days later(Saturday 12 May) Harold Logan prevailed over 1m(300 plus trophy) from Red Shadow, Walla Walla and Roi L'Or in a time of 2:43.1/5. The final match race in the series was held a week later at Wellington's Hutt Park(Saturday 19 May) where Harold Logan recorded his fifth win in the seven race series, this time over 1m(250) in 2:42.0 by a short neck from Impromptu, Red Shadow, Walla Walla, Auburn Lad, Lindbergh and Glenrossie. It was later revealed that Walla Walla had been suffering from a severe cold.

VAN DERBY v LAWN DERBY:
A match race between descendants of Ribbonwood(grandsire of their dam Roselawn) in half brothers Van Derby(Globe Derby/Roselawn) and Lawn Derby(Robert Derby/Roselawn) for 200 appearance money took place on Alexandra Park's then, six furlong grass track during the 1938 Christmas carnival(Saturday 31 December 1938, third day). Van Derby trained and driven by F J(Wizard)Smith outlasted Lawn Derby(Jack O'Shea) by half a length in an Australasian grass track flying mile record of 2:01.1/5(half 1:00.3/5). This time equalled Indianapolis's dirt track record, which had been the best in Australasia until Lawn Derby's 1:59.2/5 at Addington in November 1938, the first time 2 minutes had been bettered outside North America. Van Derby later time trialled at Epsom, Alexandra Park in 2:00.2/5(11 February, 1939). The achievements of these two champion pacers alone would merit their own story.

GOLD BAR v HAUGHTY:
At a special Patriotic meeting held at Addington on 27 March 1943 to raise funds for the war effort, Haughty(dr: Ossie Hooper) and Gold Bar(dr: Free Holmes) raced over a mile. Their battle saw Haughty prevail by two lengths in a new Australasian mares record of 2:00.2/5. Both horses established mile records of 1:59. 3/5TT - Gold Bar on 2 January 1942, second Australasian horse under two minutes after Lawn Derby and Haughty the third under two minutes on 11 November 1944, a NZ and Australasian mares record. They were the winners of three NZ Cups between in the mid 1940s(Haughty two, Gold Bar one).

JOHNNY GLOBE v OTHERS:
At Timaru on 7 March 1953 Johnny Globe took on several other superstars of the early fifties in Van Dieman, Burns Night, Vedette and Soangetaha over one mile. Between them, they were the winners of 2 NZ/GN derbies, 2 NZ Cups, 3 NZFFA's, 2 Auckland Cups and an InterDominion Grand Final. Johnny Globe prevailed on the grass in 2:04.2/5(first quarter in 30 seconds, half in 1:02.2/5) from Van Dieman and Vedette. To see screen footage of the even, google 'Timaru Harness Nostalgia' and enjoy.

PETITE EVANDER v NIGEL CRAIG:
Petite Evander was ready to fly out to North America so a match race was organised at Alexandra Park to take place at the Thames Club's meeting on 26 March 1977. In the preceeding month, Nigel Craig(Bevan Heron) had become Australasia's first sub two-minute trotter when he time trialled in T1:58.8 at Addington on 19 February 1977. Just three weeks later, Frank Weaver's Petite Evander(driven by John Langdon) became the first Australasian female trotter to break two minutes with her T1:59.8TT at Alexandra Park on 12 March 1977. The match race proved farcical with Nigel Craig dawdling through his first half in 1:06, three-quarters in 1:40.9 before sprinting home the last quarter in 29.9 winning by a half head in a ridiculously slow T2:10.8 for such quality trotters. This would appear to be the last match race held in NZ.


Credit: Peter Craig writing in Harnessed April/May 2016

 

YEAR: 1998

Maurice Holmes 1909-1998
MAURICE HOLMES (OBE) 1909-1998

It was appropriate that Maurice Holmes OBE made headlines when he died last week. He was pictured on the front page of "The Press" in Christchurch with a short story that said goodbye to one of harness racing's all-time greats. A true champion, a driver of supreme ability, honoured by the Queen, twice voted NZ's Racing Personality of the Year, the first harness horseman to drive 1000 winners...a famous Canterbury boy; the tribute was no less than he deserved.

He went, in fact, closer to 2000, with a total of 1666 - a staggering number considering the opportunities when Maurice started out were half what they are now - and his biggest score of 93 came in his very last season, when he was 65, still in peak form and a competitor to fear. He died aged 89, at his Christchurch suburban home where he lived with his wife Elsa, who predeceased him five days earlier, and Paul, his son and loyal companion.

His record in many aspects is beyond compare. He was champion driver on 19 occasions, winning the premiership for the first time when he was 20. Few classics went past his reach, and some of them he won many times. The New Zealand Derby was one of them. He won this blue ribbon feature 12 times, with Wrackler, Arethusa, Circo, Aldershot, Imperial Jade, Scottish Lady, Free Fight, Congo Song, Royal Minstrel, Tobacco Road, Student Prince and Willie Win.

Student Prince was trained by Reg Stockdale, who spent nine years with Holmes when he trained such wonderful horses as Vedette, Chamfer, Globe Direct, Te Maru, Attack, Tactics, Lauder Hall, Walnut Hall, Scottish Hall and First Victory. "He was terrific to work with," said Stockdale. "We never had a cross word, and I didn't take a day off in nine years, only because I didn't want to. He said he learnt everything from his father. Free told him to drive for third. The idea was you would come with the last run and you would end up winning."

Stockdale was still with Holmes when he moved stables, from Russley Road to Yaldhurst, and the great horses continued until the end of the 50s...Lookaway, Dancing Years, Finestra, Robert Dillon, Recruit, Ruth Again, Super Royal, Black Douglas, Loyal Cis and Papatawa. Recalling how meticulous Maurice was, he said: "One day after we had worked the horses, Maurice raked the yard and drive and had it spot on. Then a man came in, driving an old truck, on to Maurice's neat and manicured yard. He said he was selling apples. Well, he went out quicker than he came in, and never sold an apple."

Stockdale who used Holmes to drive his good horses such as Bramble Hall, Jilaire, Blue Prince and Stewart Hanover, said he always drove to save ground and won many races at Addington "sitting on the fence." He could sum up a horse quickly. You would be training one for six months, and he'd drive it once round the track and tell you more than what you would know yourself. "He was a real Professional...never smoked and didn't drink, and no visitors were allowed the night before raceday...that was always an early night."

Stackdale said he knew when to hit a horse and when not to, and was good at pushing out during a race. "I remember being in a race at Ashburton when Maurice looked across at the guy outside him and asked how he was going. The fellow said 'by the time I looked round to tell him I was three wide.'"

Maurice was a modest man, with a dry sense of humour and a quick wit. Stockdale relates this story: "A fellow engaged Maurice to drive a horse he had driven many times himself without running a place. When he brought the horse into the birdcage, he proceeded to tell Maurice how he thought the horse should be driven, and as he walked away, said 'You know Morrie, she has never been hit.' To which Maurice replied, 'Well, she hasn't got long to wait.'" On another occasion, when an owner thanked him for a winning drive, Maurice replied: "We fed our rooster on thanks and it died."

In later years, Maurice raced many horses in partnership with Bernie Wilks. When old age started to finish better, Paul was able to drive his father to work his horses, and take him to trials and race meetings. "I know this was of great comfort to him," said Stockdale.

The other eulogy at his funeral, attended by many harness racing notables including Peter Wolfenden, Roy Purdon and Jim Smith, was given by Derek Jones who with Soangetaha was one of the last overtaken when Maurice brought Vedette wheeling out of the pack, dangerously late, to win the 1951 Inter-Dominion Grand Final. Jones, who said he wouldn't have been surprised to read in the paper one day that Maurice had died and the funeral had been held, thanked the family for giving the racing fraternity the chance to pay their respects. 'You had to be out on the track to appreciate his uncanny ability. He was fearless, he had hands like a BBC pianist and an electric brain. He had a super sense of pace, anticipation beyond description and his stance in the sulky was balanced perfection. "If you gave him the reins he would ask you what the horse does wrong, and say he would find out the rest on the way."

Jones said Maurice was never one for ceremony, and when asked to say a few words after winning a big race would invariably reply: "I think I've done my part. Thanks." "The day he drove his 1000th winner was an exception. He gave a wonderful speech. He could rise to the occasion when it was demanded," said Jones. He also acknowledged his remarkable gift of being able to get horses away safely from a standing start. "This is illustrated by the number of Derbys he won. They were in the old days, over a mile and a half, where the start at Addington was on the bend going out of the front straight. He always managed to get round that corner better than most," he said.

Canterbury trainer Bob Negus was one of many who turned to Maurice when the big money was up. He used him to win the 1955 New Zealand Oaks with Glint. "He gave tremendous advice," said Negus. "I was hard up in those days and I told him I had the chance to sell her. Maurice asked how much. He said to take the money would be the wrong thing to do, best for you to hold on to her. I mean, he could have bought her himself. That advice was worth thousands to me, but then he did that many times," he said. Negus said Maurice approached every drive with the same level of commitment, whether it was a Cup horse or a maiden. "It was so important to him, to get the best out of it. He always made suggestions to improve the performance of a horse in a very kind way. You had to listen very carefully to what he was telling you, and what he said would always be right."

According to Freeman Holmes, Maurice told him many times Vedette was the best horse he handled. "And I would say that his drive to win the Grand Final with Vedette was the best I have seen. He was three or four back on the fence. Soangetaha had gone clear, but Maurice got through that last bit and won. He would say you can't go through gaps if they are not there, but this was a really superb drive. He won seven races with Noodlum in his last season when there looked to be a chance that he could drive 100 winners, and he rated Noodlum the best young horse he drove. The thing with Maurice is that he could be in midfield, or further back, and he would know where everyone was. You never really knew when he would attack," he said.

Morrie was very much 'the maestro' from the time he started. His first win was at Addington in August 1925, riding Bonny Logan to win the one-mile Lightning Handicap, for saddle horses, by three lengths. He was 16, and he was 17 when he won the 1926 Auckland Cup with Talaro. At 20, he was New Zealand's champion driver.

One of eight children - four boys and four girls - Maurice was born into a family of racing blood as pure as it gets. He father Free won the 1888 New Zealand Cup on Manton, turned to harness racing and won the 1919 New Zealand Cup with the American import Trix Pointer, and in 1936, at the age of 65, won the Inter-Dominion Grand Final in Perth with Evicus.

In his first season of driving, the 1925-26 season, Maurice drove five winners, and 30 the first season he topped the premiership. The first of his three New Zealand Cup winners was Wrackler and the same day Maurice won the New Zealand Derby with his stablemate and younger sister, Arethusa. Wrackler was the first foal fron Trix Pointer, and two seasons later won the Dominion Handicap off 60 yards when trained as a trotter by Jack Behrns.

In the 40s, Maurice turned to training, and in the 1949-50 season, topped the premiership. He won the NZ Cup again in 1950 with Chamfer, a horse who had to be covered for one, short, sharp sprint. No-one could do this as well as Maurice. In the same year, Vedette joined the stable. Formerly trained by Jack Litten, Vedette was especially prepared for the Addington Inter-Dominions, and earned favouritism with a handsome win in his third heat, over two miles. From all accounts, the Final was a cracker, and Maurice had to be the great architect he was during the race to find space with a horse in hand. His third NZ Cup came in 1957 with Lookaway, a 4-year-old bred and raced by his brother-in-law, Clarry Rhodes.

Besides the Cup and the Derby, Maurice won the Auckland Cup (Talaro and Robin Dundee), the Great Northern Derby (Wrackler, Chamfer, Tutta Tryax), Rowe Cup (Recruit -twice, Ordeal), New Zealand Oaks (Glint, Petro Star, Earl Marie), Dominion Handicap (Recruit, Wrackler, Fair Isle), NZ Free-For-All (Harold Logan, Vedette, Lookaway, Robin Dundee), NZ Trotting Stakes (Acclamation, Alight, Court Out, Winterlight, Spark Gap), NZ Golden Slipper Stakes (Adroit, Rossini, Fidelio), Miracle Mile (Wag), and Sapling Stakes (Arethusa, Slavonic, Tobacco Road).

His last day at the office was at Alexandra Park on July 20, 1974. From eight drives, he won four of them, including his final one with the trotter Transmitter Sound. The Club marked the occasion by taking Maurice on a lap of the track in an open tourer, and drivers gave him a whips-held-high guard of honour.

In retirement, at an age when many had flagged it away, Maurice still maintained an active interest in harness racing, training his last winner when he was 80, and he had Apollo at the races when he was 86.

He was associated with wonderful horses that many of us did not see. He may well have had his last headline in the paper, but in old photographs, on the list of past winners, in the gallery of fame, Maurice Holmes will be a name that will last forever.

We thank you Morrie. As a horseman, you were someone special.

-o0o-

NZ Trotguide 25Jul74

A man who has been at the top of his profession over a span of 44 years has had his last drive. He is Maurice Holmes whose accomplishments as a horseman have made him a household name in NZ.

Holmes is by far the most successful reinsman in the history of trotting in this country dating back to the 1860s. He has driven 1666 winners and amassed $2,054,555 in stake money over the last 49 years. His skill has earned him the title 'Maestro' - a word usually reserved for an eminent conductor, composer or teacher of music. Maurice Holmes is considered to be in a class of his own.

Holmes has topped the national drivers' premiership 17 times and he is currently leading the list with a record number of wins before he retires from race driving under the Rules of Trotting. He has driven 93 winners since August, 1973 bettering his record total of last season. Holmes set the previous single season records of 67(1954/5) and 52(1949/50). His 52 wins in the 1949/50 season eclipsed the record set 16 years previously by the late Fred Smith who drove 51 winners in the 1933/34 season. Holmes also drove 67 winners in the 1959/60 season.

Holmes has driven the winners of practically every major race in NZ and trained winners of two Inter-Dominion Grand Finals, the premier light harness event in Australia & NZ. He trained and drove Pot Luck to win the Inter-Dominion Final at Addington in 1938 and was also successful at the Christchurch course with Vedette in the 1951 final. Oldtimers still rave about Holmes extracting Vedette from a seemingly hopeless position a furlong (200 metres) short of the winning post. It was described by one trotting fan: "Vedette, by some freak of fortune, virtually threaded his way through the eye of a needle and them sprouted wings."

Holmes has driven the winner of NZ's top handicap harness race, the NZ Cup on three occasions. The first was with Wrackler in 1930 at the age of 21. He also trained his two other winners, Chamfer(1950) and Lookaway(1957). Holmes has established a record without parallel in a single race in NZ by driving 12 winners of the NZ Derby - Wrackler(1928), Arethusa(1930), Ciro(1931), Aldershot(1938), Imperial Jade(1939), Scottish Lady(1942), Free Fight(1946), Congo Song(1947), Royal Minstrel(1954), Tobacco Road(1957), Student Prince(1960) and Willie Win(1972). He also trained Aldershot, Imperial Jade, Scottish Lady, Free Fight and Tobacco Road.

Holmes has also been in the top bracket as a trainer, heading the national premiership in the 1949/50 season with 30 wins. Other important wins for him as a trainer included the NZ Free-For-All with Vedette and Lookaway, NZ Sapling Stakes with Arethusa and Tobacco Road and NZ Golden Slipper Stakes with Adroit, Rossini and Fidelio. He bred and raced the last two in partnership. Holmes has also had success in Australia as a trainer-driver with Tobacco Road as a 3-year-old.

The announcement that Holmes will drive a horse immediately invites special attention from trotting fans and in many cases sends them rushing to bet on that particular horse. Holmes's ability as a reinsman was summed up by the noted trotting writer Karl Scott (now retired) in the November, 1960 edition of the NZ Trotting Calendar: "Maurice Holmes is an 'out and out' natural" and his knack of anticipating the moves of other drivers and horses in races borders on the uncanny. Horses race kindly for him, even notoriously hard pullers. Holmes is not keen on the use of hand grips on reins and this is sufficient testimony to his ability to handle the hardest puller with confidence. It is noticeable that if horses are inclined to want to make their own rules by tear-away tactics, Maurice is ofter seen allowing them to have their own way for a short while but they generally finish nicely tucked in behind something else and racing the way they should."
He is also a master at educating and gaiting young horses and invariably has a 2-year-old to the fore in the early part of the season.

The name Holmes has been associated with Trotting on a highly successful basis since the early days of the sport in NZ. Maurice is son of Free, affectionately known as the "Grand Old Man" of trotting. Free rode gallopers on the flat, over hurdles and steeples and was a trainer and owner of thoroughbreds. Free rode his first winner at Ashburton at the age of 12 about 1883 as a five-stone lad. His wins as a jockey included the 1888 NZ Cup on Manton; 1894 Grand National Hurdles on Liberator and a Great Northern Steeple on the same horse. His training successes including an Auckland Cup and he had Vascoe, leading stake earner in the 1903/4 season. Free had great success in the sister sport. He trained and drove Evicus, the grand champion at the inaugral Inter-Dominion at Perth in 1936, drove the 1919 NZ Cup winner, Trix Pointer and won the 1935 Auckland Cup with Graham Direct.

Maurice is the second son of Free, who also had four daughters, one of whom is married to Mr C L Rhodes, who has major holdings in the standardbred industry. Maurice's brothers, Freeman (eldest), and Allan also made their marks as horsemen while another, Walter was the right-hand man for his father. Freeman figured as the owner-trainer-driver of the 1953 NZ Cup winner, Adorian and trained Graham Direct for his 1935 Auckland Cup win. He trained and drove two NZ Derby winners - Bonny Bridge(1943) and Daphne de Oro(1927) and four NZ Sapling Stake winners - Richore(1926), Sonoma Child(1928), Captain Morant(1942) and Forward(1951).

Allan Holmes is best remembered for Gold Bar, who put up great exhibitions of speed and ran his rivals off their feet in the 1945 NZ Cup. He also drove Harold Logan in his second NZ Cup win from 60 yards in 1932. Today a third generation of Holmes's is continuing the family tradition for top horsemanship with Freeman L, Graham, Kevin and Colin, nephews of Maurice. Graham has driven the classic winner, Buccaneer(1953 NZ Sapling Stakes) and developed the Cup class pacer Co Pilot. Kevin, who also drove a NZ Derby winner Leroy(1968), is a prominent trainer at Cambridge and Colin has also had success. Freeman L figures as the trainer and part-owner of this year's star 2-year-old Noodlum and the fine 4-year-old trotter Edis Nova.

Maurice Holmes attended Riccarton Primary School. He began driving work at the age of 11 and was full time in the stable at high school age. Maurice was soon licenced as a reinsman but for a short time had his licence revoked on the grounds that he was too young. He had his first engagement in a race at Ashburton on Boxing Day, 1923. The horse Energetic, fell so it could be said that he started his career at ground level. Holmes maintained his association with Energetic's trainer G H Murfitt of Rangiora. Murfitt, the oldest licenced trainer in NZ was on hand when a presentation was made to Holmes by the Ashburton Club last month to mark his retirement. Holmes drove Life Bouy for Mr Murfitt that day but was unplaced.

Holmes had his first placing behind Wonder Why who finished third from 60 yards in the Governor's Handicap at Addington on November 14, 1924. He had his first win on Bonny Logan in a saddle event at Addington on August 17, 1925 at the age of 16. A description of the race in a Christchurch newspaper the following day read: "The winner was well and patiently handled by the young horseman, Maurice Holmes, whose first win it was. With the good judgement and coolness he showed, he will be heard of later." Maurice was considered a top rider whe saddle races were in vogue. His first win in a sulky event was behind Talaro at Auckland on December 23, 1926. Five days later he gained his first 'big' win with Talaro in the Auckland Cup. A free-lance driver in the early days of his career, Holmes first topped the drivers' premiership in the 1930/31 season with 35 wins and repeated the feat the following season.

He took up training in the depression years of the early 30s. It was a case of making a living with driving fees dropping from 3 to 1 and the chance of only five drives a week. Holmes retired from public training in 1959 though he still prepares a few horses for himself. He trained Strauss, a winner at Addington earlier this season and has about 450 wins on his record as a trainer.

Holmes achieved the $1 million mark in stake earnings when he reined Damian to success in the Le Lievre Handicap at the NZ Metropolitan meeting on November 21, 1959. He achieved $2 million when Waipounamu ran second in the Spreydon Handicap at Addington on March 30, 1974. Holmes hoisted his 1000th winning drive behind Rustic Lad, in the Final Handicap, last race of the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club's Cup Day programme on November 8, 1960. His reply at the presentation to the thousands of fans who had been on tenderhooks: "I'm sorry to have kept you waiting. It would have suited me much better five races ago." He was referring to the NZ Cup in which he was beaten into third place with Lookaway. Holmes gained win number 1500 at Oamaru on October 23, 1972, when Macamba won the Cecil Hore Memorial Handicap.

Holmes cut down on travelling much further afield than Canterbury in the late 1960s after topping the drivers premiership for five consecutive seasons between 1961/2 and 1965/66 with totals of 54-50-60-45-48. Consequently his tallies dropped away though he still remained high on the national list each season. Last season(1972/73), urged on by his wife, Elsa, and 17-year-old son, Paul, Maurice revisited some of his old haunts in quest of the record. His brilliance as a reinsman did the rest. He drove a winner on 54 of the 62 days or nights he had an engagement and piloted at least one winner on 24 consecutive days or nights between December 23, 1972 and March 24, 1973.

To emphasise his skill he landed five winners - Wag, Robin's Sister, Armbro Jodie, Strauss and Great Time at the NZ Metropolitan meeting on March 7, 1973. Holmes had twice previously driven five winners on one programme at Forbury Park. He was successful with Jenny Dillon, Walnut Jimmy, Te Maru (twice) and Lady Inchape on October 13, 1951 when he also gained seconds with First Victor and Scottish Nurse. The other occasion was on February 5, 1955, when he piloted Recruit, Trueco, Belle Renarde, Sure Phoebe and Secure.

At the presentation to Holmes when he drove his 68th winner for 1972/3 - Grizzly Bear at Addington on April 7, 1973 - thus eclipsing his old record of 67, NZ Trotting Conference President, Dick Rolfe, said: "The Holmes family have shaped the destinies of NZ trotting and 1973 will go down as Maurice Holmes' finest year."

Another feat for Holmes was to train and drive the winners of both divisions of a race. The event was the Waiwera Handicap won by County Clare and Valola at the Banks Peninsula Racing Club's meeting on March 2, 1946. Holmes won the only other light harness event on that programme with County Clare.

Maurice has a remarkably clean record as race driver. He had his first suspension for 18 years when given a one day penalty for causing interference at the Morrinsville meeting an April 2, 1974. The previous time he was outed for a month when found guilty of causing interference as the driver of Super Royal which finished second to Loyal Cis in the Author Dillon Handicap at Addington on November 8, 1956.

Among his big wins in 1972/3 were the $16,500 Stars Travel Miracle Mile with Wag (who set a national record of 1:57 2-5); NZ Derby (Willie Win); Champagne Mile Final (Tonton Macoute); Bridgens Memorial and Stewards Free-For-All (Jason McCord).

It is fitting that Maurice should be associated this season with Noodlum (trained by his nephew, Freeman) as the colt rewrote the record book for a 2-year-old by winning 12 races and $23,162.50. Freeman drove Noodlum to win five of his first eight starts then offered the drive to Maurice to help in his quest to top the drivers' premiership in his last season. Maurice obliged by piloting Noodlum to seven straight wins including the triple crown of 2-year-old racing - the NZ Sapling Stakes, Juvenile Championship and Welcome Stakes.

Maurice has had his share of spills; enough to rule him out when he volunteered for the Second World War. At 65 years of age, Holmes is driving with the acumen of men many years his junior. His nerve has never wavered. Another remarkable feat he has achieved in his final season, is driving a winner at 18 of the 20 tracks where he has attended his last meeting. This he proved at Alexandra Park last Saturday in his final day of driving when he drove four winners, two seconds and a third. It was a remarkable achievement and showed him to be the 'Maestro' to the end.

Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 15Jul98

 

YEAR: 1973

J S (JACK) SHAW

J S (Jack) Shaw, who died in Christchurch on Saturday aged 76 after ailing in health for several months, will long be remembered in NZ racing and trotting circles for many fine accomplishments. But probably his greatest feat of all was blazing the trail to America for NZ standardbreds with that grand trotter Vodka.

It could be rightly said that someone had to be first in this role, but Jack Shaw overcame severe adversity to get Vodka into winning form in the United States in 1956. I was there with him at that time, and I believe no other horseman from this part of the world could have surmounted the difficulties that beset him on that trip and proved his point by leading the way across the Pacific to the hundreds of standardbreds that have followed.

Had Jack Shaw and Vodka failed in their mission, there would almost certainly have been great reluctance on the part of any other owners and trainers to take or send horses to America. The crack pacer Caduceus may not have been tempted to New York for International competition in 1960, there might not have been sufficient American faith in NZ performances to prompt the purchase of the mighty Cardigan Bay in 1964. And the keen demand for our standardbred product that arose through the deeds of our topliners in the United States transforming NZ trotting from a battler's sport to a flourishing industry, might not have developed.

Jack Shaw was just the man for such a significant crusade. Already by 1956 his name was a household word in NZ racing circles. His accomplishments, first in trotting with a string of outstanding pacers and trotters headed by the long-time NZ record holder for a trotting mile, Worthy Queen(2:03 3-5), and then with numerous gallopers headed by the outstanding classics and cups winner Beaumaris, had set the seal to his fame. And when the brilliant trotter Vodka, a gift to Jack Shaw from Auckland's Mr Trotting, Bill Hoskins, capped a fine NZ record by winning from 102 yards at 13 furlongs in record time at Addington early in 1956 in his final appearance, the stage was set.

The NZ trotting fraternity as a whole had every confidence that the Shaw-Vodka combination would prove winning ambassadors in their historic venture into the American harness racing scene. But events were to prove that it was not going to be all that easy. Jack Shaw took Vodka to America by ship. It was a bad trip, and Vodka and his master both travelled poorly. They reached New York down in health and Vodka, his condition aggravated by severe corn trouble, could not trot a yard when Jack set him to training at Yonkers. From being a star visitor with glowing advance reports to live up to, Vodka, when he looked and performed so poorly in first appearances on the busy Yonkers training scene, was reduced to something of a joke amongst the heartless grooms and touts of the area who knew nothing of the troubles of the visitor.

Jack Shaw was a man of great independence and pride. He refused to seek sympathy from raceway officials or to accept help from American horsemen - insistent in his own mind that he would overcome all the problems. But Vodka was proving more than a worry even for Jack Shaw, costs were running high, eating into the finance Shaw was legally restricted to. In desperation, Jack transported Vodka to the less significant Vernon Downs track in upstate New York, took moderate private lodgings, lived virtually on coffee and hamburgers for weeks on end while he devoted his every waking moment to patching up Vodka sufficiently to win with him.

In his day a robust but extremely fit man with a background that included a career in wrestling and wrestling refereeing, Jack lost several stone in weight and, I am sure, aged himself considerably in this ordeal. Jack by this time had refused to accept financial assistance offered him by globetrotting NZer Noel Simpson. He still wanted to do the job completely on his own. Boarding with him for a few days at that time, I found that despite all his woes, Jack Shaw still retained his sense of humour. When I mistakenly set the fire alarm for the whole township of Vernon going, thinking that I was using a telephone in the household, he laughed until the tears came.

Finally, Vodka was as ready as any hands could have possibly got him under the circumstances for his American race debut. Typically slow from the barrier in his first start, Vodka, though not half his former self, made ground into fifth at the wire. Though relieved that Vodka had shown sufficient to suggest he would be able to at least win minor races, Jack was nevertheless bitterly disappointed that he hadn't won first-up with him.

The following week, however, the NZ combination made no mistake, coming from another slow start to win handsomely. And history was made. Almost crying with joy, Jack invited me into the box with him and the horse after cooling Vodka out. As I tried to squeeze past Vodka's rump the gelding lifted his off hind leg as if to kick at me. I froze. "Don't worry about him. He won't kick you. If he does I'll send him back to NZ," said Jack. And fortunately for me, that great confidence that Jack Shaw had in himself and his horse was right once again. Vodka didn't kick me.

He was to win several more races under Jack and then a few more under an American trainer, Earl Nelson, who had been very helpful after Jack had finally befriended him. And though, before he died a year or so later while still in active racing Vodka did not win a really big race in America, he had proved a NZ horse could succeed in the States.

I related some of this story some months later to Karl Scott, long-time editor of the NZ Trotting Calendar and a top authority on NZ trotting. Karl said at that time: "Jack Shaw is not a trainer, he's a scientist with horses." I couldn't agree more.


Credit: Ron Bisman writing in NZ Trotting 14Jul73

 

YEAR: 1948

Harold Logan & Maurice Holmes at the start of a NZ Cup
HAROLD LOGAN

Harold Logan died last week at the age of 25 years. The owner, Mr E F C Hinds, stated that Harold Logan's heart weighed four pounds. His lungs were still perfectly sound, but his teeth and gums were gone.

Harold Logan was a horse who became an institution with the racing public. His name was a household word. He was almost human. Everybody idolised him. Can't you still hear the cry re-echoing through the grandstands? "It's Harold Logan coming through." The cry was taken up by thousands, until it swelled into a mighty roar as the hero of a hundred fights broke another world's record. Harold Logan's deeds live on as an epic. He was, indeed, one of Nature's finest little gentlemen. Homer never sang of a greater hero than this courageous piece of pacing dynamite.

Harold Logan rose from comparative insignificance. His dam, Ivy Cole, was never threatened with fame, and when Harold Logan was born in a yard at the back of the Springfield Hotel, he was regarded by the natives as just another horse. But what a horse! As near perfection in racing qualities as we are ever likely to see. Harold Logan's third dam, Charity, was a thoroughbred, but was a poor galloper, and her track performances would scarcely have done credit to a back-country hack. To Duncan Abdullah she produced Wisconsin. For some years Wisconsin did duty as a shepherd's hack. Later she was raced, but was a decided moderate. Her owner, Mr J J Coffey, mated her with King Cole, the result being Ivy Cole, a good-looking sort; but she was injured and did not race. Ivy Cole, if she had never left another foal, earned immortality as the dam of Harold Logan.

Harold Logan had his first race at a Waimate Hunt Meeting as a 5-year-old in the 1927-28 season, when with his owner, the late F R Legg, in the saddle, he won easily over the mile and a half journey. He raced four times as a 6-year-old, but without any return. In fact, it was not until he came into the ownership of Miss E Hinds, at the small outlay of 100, and joined the late R J Humphrey's stable, that he began to show his real worth.

Nothing succeeded quite like Harold Logan. His onslaught on the West Coast of the North Island curcuit in the 1929-30 season was one of the cleanest sweeps on record. He took everything before him, and was later successful at Addington and Auckland, in all sorts of going. Each of his wins was more impressive than the last, and already he was recognised as a coming champion. By the time he had passed the 8-year-old mark he was among the stars. His victory in the Oamaru Handicap that year is still regarded by many experienced observers as one of his greatest performances. Buffeted from pillar to post, he was apparently out of the contest more than once, and it was a supreme effort in the straight that enabled him to get up and win in a blanket finish between four of the best stayers of that time. The public could not believe the watch when the world's record race figures of 4.13 2/5 for two miles were hung up for his third placing in the Midsummer Handicap at Addington in 1931. The previous best figures were Peter Bingen's 4.18 4/5. Harold Logan was time in 4.11 from post to post. Already he was one in a million.

His first victory in the NZ Cup came when he was nine. A brilliant win in the Weston Handicap at Oamaru pointed to success, but in the first division of the NZ Cup he was driven wide out practically all the way and just managed to struggle into fourth place and qualify for the final. He was allowed to go out second favourite in the final, but, more judiciously handled, he came away from Kingcraft in the straight after pacing his last half-mile in the sensational time of 58 2/5secs. The Free-For-All fell easy prey to him.

Harold Logan had now reached ten years of age, and he celebrated his birthday by returning after a spell to down Red Shadow in the National Handicap. He set new record figures for a mile and a quarter when he finished third in the Avon Handicap at New Brighton in 2.38 2/5, and subsequently won the NZ Cup Trial, a prelude to his second victory in the NZ Cup, in which he set a new race record of 4.16 2/5.

The following season he created a surprise at the August meeting by winning from a long mark over a mile and a quarter. His dividend was well into double figures and many and varied were the tales of people who 'let him go.' But now was to follow a period of eclipse for the champion. He failed to gain a place in the NZ Cup, was beaten by Red Shadow and Kingcraft in the Free-For-All, and it seemed that the new champion in Red Shadow was entitled to the crown.

It was soon after this that the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club made arrangements for the Australian champion Walla Walla, to appear in match races with Red Shadow, Harold Logan, Roi l'Or and Jewel Pointer - and tremendous interest was displayed by the public in the track work of all these horses weeks before the event. Such an impression Red Shadow made by his NZ Cup and Free-For-All victories, that he was a firm favourite over Walla Walla and Harold Logan. The first of the invitation races was run over a mile, and Walla Walla, beginning very fast, set a new world's record of 2.04 1/5 from a standing start and narrowly defeated Harold Logan, with Red Shadow a fair third. This was the only race in which Walla Walla was seen at his best, and in all but one of the other five - run at Auckland, Forbury Park, Oamaru and Wellington - Harold Logan was the victor. These highly exhilarating contests - they put new life and enthusiasm into the sport throughout NZ - were the crowning glory of Harold Logan's 12-year-old career.

Enthusiasm knew no bounds when he opened up his winning account in the Avon Handicap, of a mile and a quarter, at New Brighton the following season. He started from the seemingly impossible mark of 84 yards. Those in front of him included such proven sprinters as Silver de Oro, Kingcraft and Craganour. Once again Harold Logan paid a large dividend; but winners and losers alike put their hands together and roared themselves hoarse when they realised that the irresistable Harold had bagged another world's race record. His 2.36 3/5 was then a world's winning race record.

This would have been enough for one season for most champions, but just by way of variety Harold Logan gave the record roster another jolt by finishing third from 72 yards in the NZ Cup and clocked 4.12 2/5. This was a world's pacing record for two miles, with no reservations whatsoever, and it stood for thirteen years. For this meeting a special two-mile Free-for-all, with lap prizes had been included in the programme, and Harold Logan was equal to outstaying Roi l'Or decisively after taking the prize from the second lap and collecting an additional 50. The mile and a quarter Free-For-All was just as easy for him.

Now wearing on for thirteen, Harold Logan was evidently at last beginning to take toll of his years, but his vitality still proved invulnerable, and he gained another victory in the NZ Cup Trial at Wellington. He did not contest the NZ Cup, in which his handicap would have been 84 yards. In the Free-For-All he was beaten out of a place. He again failed from a long mark at Easter, but one was still loath to write 'C'est finis' to a grand and glorious career.

And just as well, because, without Dr Voronoff or anybody else, he came back as a 14-year-old, finishing fourth in the NZ Cup, third in the Louisson Handicap, and winning another Free-For-All. He was given an official farewell at this meeting, and enthusiasm ran high when a garland of roses was placed around his neck by Mrs J H Williams. The crowd went hysterical with delight. One dear old lady showered the 'horse that time forgot' with rose petals, and children round the birdcage gave him a warm 'hand.'

Everybody loved this horse. His uncanny intelligence, unflinching courage, and perfect manners appealed to all. His terrific bursts of speed from rear positions round the best of fields always sent the pulse doing overtime and brought thousands to their feet to do honour to the horse who proved time and time again that nothing was beyond him.

At the barrier! He would stand there, the whole field in front of him, and, ears pricked and not a move out of him, he would watch the starter, as keenly as any driver ever watched him. And I heard one of his drivers admit that on more than one occasion old Harold was into his stride and full speed ahead before even his pilot realised that the barriers had been released. He has a sense of anticipation that would have lined up with Bert Cooke's!

In training Harold Logan was also little short of human. He knew the training track from the racetrack as well as any trainer, and he would not go any faster than he had to. But if any strange horse was brought along to work with him, he would go like fun to beat it, just to prove he could, and once he had done so he would not bother his head about it again. Now, that's one for Ripley, because it is on record that Harold Logan could size up his opposition as well as his trainer or driver. At the races, however, he was just the opposite, becausehe never stopped trying, no matter how gigantic the task.

They are not foaled better than Harold Logan.

-o0o-

Frank Marrion writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 8Feb84

Harold Logan was a gelded son of Logan Pointer and a non-standardbred mare in Ivy Cole, who was by King Cole (by Ribbonwood) from Wisconsin, she being out of a poorly performed thoroughbred mare. Harold Logan rose from total obscurity to become a household name in NZ, the idol of thousands. But it wasn't so much his perfect manners, devastating turn of speed nor undeniable will to win that saw him rise to such heights of popularity. It was his character. Harold Logan was virtually human, so intelligent he was known to train himself and run his own races. One famous instance was after one of his many wins at Addington, his driver commenting Harold Logan was into full stride before he realised the starter had let the field go.

Nobody had heard of Harold Logan when he began his first serious campaign as a seven-year-old, having just been purchased by Mr E Hinds for 100 and joined the stable of R J (Dick) Hunphreys. However, after a North Island campaign in the winter of 1930, where he was unbeaten in four starts at Wanganui, Hawera and Taranaki in the space of a fortnight, he was already among the stars. After winning at Addington, Harold Logan travelled to Auckland where he scored a double, his final start of the season resulting in a five length win in the featured Adams Memorial Cup.

He won his first three starts as an eight-year-old later finishing second in the Auckland Cup from 36 yards to Carmel (front) and winning the NZ Trotting Gold Cup at Wellington by four lengths. He was placed in his final three starts at Addington that season, including a third from 84 yards over two miles. Nobody could believe their eyes when his time of 4:13.4 was posted, the previous best being Peter Bingen's 4:18.8. He was timed from post to post in better than 4:11, figures unheard of and unequalled until Highland Fling appeared on the scene some 15 years later.

As a nine-year-old Harold Logan won his first NZ Cup, coming off a 48 yard handicap to easily beat Kingcraft (front), Free Advice (12) and Wrackler (36). The stake of 1500 sovereigns was half what the Cup had been run for in the mid 1920s. He also won the Free-For-All on the final day pointlessly. Harold Logan returned the following season to win the National Handicap from 60 yards, set new figures for a mile and a quarter in finishing third at Addington in 2:38.4, win the NZ Cup Trial at Wellington, and win his second NZ Cup from 60 yards, beating Glenrossie (12), Roi l'Or (24) and Red Shadow (12) by two lengths in 4:16.4, a race record.

Now trained by his owner at New Brighton, Harold Logan returned at the advanced age of 11 to win at Addington in August, beating Mountain Dell (front), and Red Shadow (36) from 60 yards over a mile and a quarter in 2:38 2/5. However, he was overshadowed by Red Shadow at the Cup meeting, finishing fifth from 72 yards in the Cup and being soundly beaten by that horse in the Free-For-All after uncharacteristically beaking in the run home. It seemed youth was about to be served, but Harold Logan still had other ideas.

Thus when Walla Walla stepped into the Addington birdcage to do battle with New Zealand's best, the scene was unprecedented, or at least for 30 years when Fritz and Ribbonwood had set the trotting world alight. It is impossible to recapture the excitement of the day in words now, so for a while we will step back into history, remembering we are 50 years in the past, and let the noted scribe of those years, "Ribbonwood" (or Karl Scott as he was better known) recall the events.

(Published April 5, 1934, NZ Referee).
"From a very early hour the trams and taxis did a roaring trade. People were seen walking to the course from 9:30am and by 11:30 traffic control at the course entrances was a most difficult task. They continued to arrive in thousands until the appointed hour of the Invitation Match, and by this time grandstand accommodation was at a premium. Inside and outside the course every possible vantage point was taken. The Showgrounds fence, and the back fence of the course, cattle trucks and carriages in the railway yard, the workshops roof, and the roofs of private houses adjacent to the course were loaded with humanity. From the crowd covering the lawns came a steady drone that could be likened to the roar of an Eastern market place.

"But the crowd round the totalisator dispersed much earlier than usual, and five minutes before closing time the totalisator was being patronised by only a few stragglers who were probably imbued with purely gambling instincts, and who were not particularly desirous of obtaining the best possible view of the race. It is safe to say that many thousands did not make any investment on the race. They went solely to see the champions in action, and monetary interests became a secondary consideration with many of the 22,000 present.

"The CJC as well as retailers, hotel keepers and bording house keepers have benefitted by the enterprise of the Metropolitan Trotting Club in arranging the match races. One incident will give some idea of the tremendous interest it has engended. Of nine men staying at one hotel, six admitted that it was the first trotting meeting they had attended. That is a large percentage and does not hold good in all cases. But one can safely assume that the increase of 11,985 in the totalisator investments on the first day was represented by the drawing influence of the Invitation Match.

Walla Walla was the first horse to enter the birdcage and when he was driven round by his owner, unstinted applause came from the dense crowd around the birdcage. It had an unsettling effect on Walla Walla, who got on his toes immediately and showed nervousness during the preliminary that his owner stated was due to the surroundings and a multitude his champion had never seen before. When Harold Logan appeared, prancing along to the plaudits that only a public idol receives, the hero of 'ten thousand' fights was given the warmest reception of all the contestants. He has gained a place in the estimation of the sporting public that will never be surpassed, even when his memory is dimmed with time. Red Shadow, the best conditioned horse of the field, made a marvellous impression in his 'Sunday waistcoat' as he was enthusiastically received. Roi l'Or, who, perhaps, did not look as though he had all his medals on, also came in for a tremendous round of applause, and little Jewel Pointer was received as a battle-scarred old veteran with a runner's chance.

"Walla Walla and Roi l'Or were both restive at the start, and they held up the despatch for nearly two minutes. Harold Logan stood like a statue, and Red Shadow and Jewel Pointer gave little trouble. Walla Walla continued to rear up and back out, but eventually they were all caught nearly in line. Walla Walla began ver fast and was soon showing out from Harold Logan and Red Shadow, while Roi l'Or and Jewel Pointer were slow to muster their speed. Walla Walla drew out by two lengths clear of Harold Logan at the end of a quarter, and Red Shadow was about the same distance back, and then Jewel Pointer and Roi l'Or at close intervals. Jewel Pointer moved up to be almost on terms with Red Shadow three furlongs from home, but from this stage the race was a duel between Walla Walla and Harold Logan. Walla Walla reached the straight with Harold Logan challenging on the outside of him.

"The crowd had cheered wildly from the outset, but when Harold Logan drew up to Walla Walla a furlong from the post, the mingled advice and exhortations were deafening. 'Harold Logan wins' came from thousands of throats and halfway down the straight the New Zealander certainly appeared to have the measure of the
Australian. About 50 yards from the post they drew level again, but Walla Walla had a little in reserve, and gradually drew out from Harold Logan, and passed the post a neck in front. Red Shadow, flat out, was three lengths away, Jewel Pointer four lengths farther back, and Roi l'Or about two lengths away.

"The crowd literally went mad with delight. They would have liked to see our champion beat Walla Walla, but the fact that the Australian came again when apparently beaten, and won the most hair raising duel ever witnessed at Addington, left them hoarse but satisfied. It took the police all their time to prevent a section of the crowd from mobbing the winner when he was returning to the birdcage, but more was to follow. On their way back to the sheds, Walla Walla and Mr Martin were effectively mobbed. Police protection had to be availed of, and, before the crowd dispersed, several volunteers had to be called upon to protect the police, or assist them. 'My greatest hope has been realised,' stated Mr Martin. 'The demonstration fairly staggered me.' 'The best horse won,' said Mr E F C Hinds, owner of Harold Logan. 'I am quite satisfied.'"

The best horse had won and in world record time for a standing start mile of 2:04.2.

The subsequent invitation races at Addington, Alexandra Park, Forbury Park, Oamaru and Wellington were understandably anti-climatic, with Walla Walla failing to reproduce his best.

The second day of Addington's Easter meeting saw Walla Walla, Harold Logan, Red Shadow, Jewel Pointer and Ces Donald's Lindbergh return for a clash over a mile and a half. Harold Logan won easily after Walla Walla had put his foot through Jewel Pointer's cart with about a mile to run. Walla Walla had begun slowly and was trying to get out of a pocket on the rails when the incident occurred. A youthful Maurice Holmes who drove Harold Logan throughout the series, received some criticism for "walking" the field in the early stages. With Harold Logan reeling of his last half mile in close to 59 seconds, he gave nobody a show, beating Red Shadow by a length with Lindbergh and Walla Walla six lengths away. Harold Logan recorded 3:16.4 for the journey, more than two seconds slower than Worthy Queen took in the main trot later in the day, recording 3:14.2 from 60 yards. Worthy Queen's time was to stand as a record for almost 20 years, Dictation reducing it in the early 1950s.

The third and fourth rounds of the invitation races were held at Alexandra Park. Harold Logan was an easy winner of the first, leading throughout to beat Auburn Lad and Red Shadow, but in the second he drifted off the rails at a vital stage and allowed Impromptu and Red Shadow through to beat him narrowly. Walla Walla had not travelled north but he and Harold Logan clashed at Forbury Park where the track was so bad they were forced to race in the centre of the course. Walla Walla set a strong pace in the early stages but had no answer when challenged by Harold Logan in the straight. The concluding invitation events at Oamaru and Wellington also fell easy prey to Harold Logan, with Walla Walla struggling. However it was later revealed that the stallion had been suffering from a severe cold.

For Harold Logan the series with Walla Walla could easily have been his crowning glory, but still there was much more to come. He returned the following season and stunned the trotting world when he won the mile and a quarter Avon Handicap at Addington from 84 yards. Eleventh favourite in the 13 horse field, Maurice Holmes got him home by a length in 2:36.6, a record which stood until the suicidal Gold Bar clocked 2:35 in 1942.

Starting from 72 yards in the 1934 NZ Cup, he found Indianapolis (12 yards) and Blue Mountain (front) impossible to beat, but on the second day he easily won a free-for-all over two miles, beating Roi l'Or and Red Shadow, and on the final day he won the mile and a quarter free-for-all by three lengths over Roi l'Or. In the Cup that year Harold Logan recorded 4:12.4, a record which stood for 13 years.

He was back again the following season to win the NZ Cup Trial Handicap at Wellington by three lengths after starting from 60 yards over a mile and a quarter, but did not attempt the Cup. Some idea of the ridiculous handicaps now imposed on Harold Logan was in evidence when he lined up on the second day, starting from 72 yards in a mile event. Indianapolis won fron 48 yards. He was a close fourth on the final day in the free-for-all won by Indianapolis over stablemate Tempest and Roi l'Or.

By now one could easily have been excused for writing "C'est finis" to a grand and glorious career but still Harold Logan had other ideas, returning as a 14-year-old in 1936 to finish a fine fourth in Indianapolis' third NZ Cup, then win the free-for-all on the final day over Tempest, Red Shadow, Roi l'Or and Indianapolis. This was finally Harold Logan's crowning glory and gave rise to a highly emotional scene when he was decorated in the birdcage afterwards. It was his last start for the season and seemingly he was retired with a record of 29 wins and 20 times second or third in 108 starts, earning just over 10,000.

But, incredibly, Harold Logan was leased and brought back into work as a 16-year-old, recording a couple more placings before the curtain fell on the career of a horse who really defied description. Appropriately Harold Logan's final start also brought to a close the career of his remarkable sire Logan Pointer, having been foaled only a year or so before Logan Pointer was fatally kicked by a pony, dying at the age of 15.


Credit: 'Ribbonwood' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 21Apr48

 

YEAR: 1934

Walla Walla
WALLA WALLA MATCH RACES

What would you say to a match race between Lord Module and Popular Alm, on a nice roomy track like Addington, with Delightful Lady, Bonnie's Chance and Armalight thrown in for good measure? Obviously such an event would be virtually impossible, to frame or to imagine, but that's just what happened exactly 50 years ago.

It was early in 1934 when the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club completed arrangements for the glamour Australian pacer Walla Walla to compete in a series of match races throughout NZ, against the best pacers New Zealand could assemble. Considered worthy of taking on such an illustrious foe were dual NZ Cup winner Harold Logan, in the twilight of his magnificent career as an eleven-year-old, most recent NZ Cup winner Red Shadow, ten-year-old Roi l'Or and Jewel Pointer, the latter representing the North Island.

Trotting in NZ has seen many changes since the turn of the century and the days of Ribbonwood and Fritz. Growth was the key word, checked momentarily by events of World War I, trotting had made splendid progress in NZ. Addington Raceway, undoubtedly the mecca of the sport in this part of the world, had seen many personalities, horses and men. Names such as Monte Carlo, Wildwood Junior, Author Dillon, Trix Pointer, Reta Peter, Great Bingen and Wrackler, the Bryces, Holmes, and numerous others had well and truly carved their niche. The period was also significant for the importation of stallions who reshaped the industry - the likes of Nelson Bingen, Harold Dillon, Logan Pointer, Rey de Oro, Wrack and Jack Potts. While economies had plunged into the depths of depression, trotting in the 1930s was little short of spectacular, spurred on by great horses and packed grandstands.

One of those horses was Harold Logan, a gelded son of Logan Pointer and a non-standardbred mare in Ivy Cole, who was by King Cole (by Ribbonwood) from Wisconsin, she being out of a poorly performed thoroughbred mare. Harold Logan rose from total obscurity to become a household name in NZ, the idol of thousands. But it wasn't so much his perfect manners, devastating turn of speed nor undeniable will to win that saw him rise to such heights of popularity. It was his character. Harold Logan was virtually human, so intelligent he was known to train himself and run his own races. One famous instance was after one of his many wins at Addington, his driver commenting Harold Logan was into full stride before he realised the starter had let the field go.

Nobody had heard of Harold Logan when he began his first serious campaign as a seven-year-old, having just been purchased by Mr E Hinds for 100 and joined the stable of R J (Dick) Hunphreys. However, after a North Island campaign in the winter of 1930, where he was unbeaten in four starts at Wanganui, Hawera and Taranaki in the space of a fortnight, he was already among the stars. After winning at Addington, Harold Logan travelled to Auckland where he scored a double, his final start of the season resulting in a five length win in the featured Adams Memorial Cup.

He won his first three starts as an eight-year-old later finishing second in the Auckland Cup from 36 yards to Carmel (front) and winning the NZ Trotting Gold Cup at Wellington by four lengths. He was placed in his final three starts at Addington that season, including a third from 84 yards over two miles. Nobody could believe their eyes when his time of 4:13.4 was posted, the previous best being Peter Bingen's 4:18.8. He was timed from post to post in better than 4:11, figures unheard of and unequalled until Highland Fling appeared on the scene some 15 years later.

As a nine-year-old Harold Logan won his first NZ Cup, coming off a 48 yard handicap to easily beat Kingcraft (front), Free Advice (12) and Wrackler (36). The stake of 1500 sovereigns was half what the Cup had been run for in the mid 1920s. He also won the Free-For-All on the final day pointlessly. Harold Logan returned the following season to win the National Handicap from 60 yards, set new figures for a mile and a quarter in finishing third at Addington in 2:38.4, win the NZ Cup Trial at Wellington, and win his second NZ Cup from 60 yards, beating Glenrossie (12), Roi l'Or (24) and Red Shadow (12) by two lengths in 4:16.4, a race record.

Now trained by his owner at New Brighton, Harold Logan returned at the advanced age of 11 to win at Addington in August, beating Mountain Dell (front), and Red Shadow (36) from 60 yards over a mile and a quarter in 2:38 2/5. However, he was overshadowed by Red Shadow at the Cup meeting, finishing fifth from 72 yards in the Cup and being soundly beaten by that horse in the Free-For-All after uncharacteristically beaking in the run home. It seemed youth was about to be served, but Harold Logan still had other ideas.

Red Shadow was by no means a slouch himself, in fact trainer James "Scotty" Bryce, who prepared no less than five individual NZ Cup winners, considered him the best. The chestnut was a six-year-old when he beat Harold Logan in the Free-For-All and had already won 22 races, including nine and the Great Northern Derby as a three-year-old. Red Shadow's sire Travis Axworthy, a chestnut himself imported from America as a two-year-old in 1924, was a fine upstanding individual and a pacer of top class, actually beating Harold Logan on more than one occasion a few years earlier. Red Shadow was one of those great "lucky to be alive" stories.

Bryce had arrived from Scotland in 1913, presuming his two mares Our Aggie and Jenny Lind would be waiting for him. He had shipped them off two weeks before departing himself. However, their ship had soon gone aground, forcing it back to port, and the mares had to be transshipped to another vessel, the Nairnshire. Two months after Bryce had stepped on to the Wellington wharf, the Nairnshire arrived. It had been a particularly rough and hazardous journey and Bryce's mares were strapped to the deck, the mate having suggested they be thrown overboard. Bryce had already shifted to Christchurch and was soon making "Oakhampton Lodge" at Hornby the most modern training establishment seen up to that time. Only months after arriving, Our Aggie was winning races for Bryce and later she produced Red Shadow.

Only three years after his arrival in the Dominion, Bryce was the leading trainer, a position he retained for seven consequtive years, then again in the 1923-24 season. He was also leading reinsman on five occasions. Apart from his NZ Cup successes with Cathedral Chimes (1916), Great Hope (1923), Ahuriri (1925,1926), Kohara (1927) and Red Shadow, Bryce won six Auckland Cups, three Sapling Stakes, three NZ Derbies, four Great Northern Derbies, four Champion Stakes, four Dominion Handicaps and a Rowe Cup, a record unapproached to this day. Other top class performers shaped by him were Admiral Wood, Man o'War, Shadow Maid, Taurekareka (the first horse to win the Sapling Stakes, NZ and Great Northern Derby), Whispering Willie, Moneyspider, Matchlight, Alto Chimes, Taraire and Whist.

Bryce was meticulous in detail, his horses were always fit and healthy, inside and outside, and he was one of the first horsemen to introduce swimming as a regular part of training. Bryce had arrived in NZ with his wife and five children. Two of his sons, Andrew and James junior, were also noted horsemen for many years while his daughter Rona was an accomplished horsewoman at shows and gymkhanas and was associated with the training of several galloping winners.

The 1930s saw a succession of champion performers and the 1933 NZ Cup meeting was no exception. In the event before the Cup, top four-year-old Indianapolis had come from a 36 yard back mark to win the mile and a quarter Empire Handicap by four lengths, while later in the day Huon Voyage won the Dominion Handicap from 60 yards. The Cup itself went pretty much as expected, with Mrs M Harrall's Red Shadow and Royal Silk finishing comfortably clear of the rest. This is the only occasion an owner has quinellaed the Cup. Red Shadow also won the final event of the day over a mile and a quarter. The meeting was also significant for the success of the six-year-old are Worthy Queen, who won twice on the second day and again on the third, beating top trotters Todd Lonzia and Huon Voyage. The NZ Derby was won by the unbeaten Man o'War youngster in War Buoy. The M B "Dil" Edwards trained gelding was out by six and twelve lengths over subsequent NZ Cup winner Morello and Gay Junior, the only other pacers that bothered entering the event. War Buoy who went on to win his first ten races, set a new race record for the mile and a half of 3:16.2.

So devastating had Red Shadow been at the meeting, winning all four principle races, that he was installed favourite over Walla Walla and Harold Logan for the first round of match races on March 31. However, everyone knew Red Shadow would be produced in his usual immaculate condition, so most of the attention was focused on the "veterans", Walla Walla and Harold Logan, who were both virtually twice Red Shadow's age. Roi l'Or and Free Holmes had beaten Harold Logan on his merits in their younger days, but his form was indifferent now and he was thought to be past his best. Twelve-year-old Jewel Pointer had been one of the north's best performers for many years, but with advancing years was only given a runner's chance.

Walla Walla was really something of a mystery, in fact most had not even heard of him, paying little attention to events across the Tasman. However, when some of his performances around the tiny Harold Park circuit were related, suddenly he took on awesome stature. Walla Walla's career had been along parallel lines to Harold Logan. He made his first appearances as a five-year-old in Sydney in 1928, winning the Gunning Show Cup and the Tooth's K B Lager Handicap. Hopples or no hopples, it made no difference to Walla Walla, and in July of 1928 he won his first registered start in Melbourne, unhoppled. It was the start of a record breaking career, culminating in his 2:02.4 mile at Harold Park in May of 1933, a time which was easily the fastest outside America. The NZ record for a mile was Acron's ten-year-old mark of 2:03.6 at Addington, while Harold Logan's best mile time was a 2:04.4 effort at Forbury Park, a track considered seconds faster than Harold Park.

Walla Walla was bred, owned and trained throughout his career by Les Martin, a grazier and storekeeper of Dalton, New South Wales. Martin had been a great admirer of an outstanding pacer of the 1910s in Globe Derby, and when that horse was embarking on a stud career, purchased two mares in Princess Winona and Purple Ribbon to breed to him. Princess Winona, an unraced trotting mare by imported parents in Dixie Alto and Winona, duly produced a particularly handsome colt. However, as a two-year-old the colt was "all head and legs" and Martin lost interest in him. He was untouched until a late three-year-old and for a while fiercely resisted being handled. However, Walla Walla was soon proving himself a class above anything else in Australia and often so long were his handicaps, he was to become immortalised by the saying "further back than Walla Walla." Among his numerous successes were wins over 12 furlongs at Goulburn from 168 yards and at Harold Park from 180 yards, while his longest handicap was 288 yards in the 1929 Goulburn Cup when he finished third.

Thus when Walla Walla stepped into the Addington birdcage to do battle with New Zealand's best, the scene was unprecedented, or at least for 30 years when Fritz and Ribbonwood had set the trotting world alight. It is impossible to recapture the excitement of the day in words now, so for a while we will step back into history, remembering we are 50 years in the past, and let the noted scribe of those years, "Ribbonwood" (or Karl Scott as he was better known) recall the events.

(Published April 5, 1934, NZ Referee).
"From a very early hour the trams and taxis did a roaring trade. People were seen walking to the course from 9:30am and by 11:30 traffic control at the course entrances was a most difficult task. They continued to arrive in thousands until the appointed hour of the Invitation Match, and by this time grandstand accommodation was at a premium. Inside and outside the course every possible vantage point was taken. The Showgrounds fence, and the back fence of the course, cattle trucks and carriages in the railway yard, the workshops roof, and the roofs of private houses adjacent to the course were loaded with humanity. From the crowd covering the lawns came a steady drone that could be likened to the roar of an Eastern market place.

"But the crowd round the totalisator dispersed much earlier than usual, and five minutes before closing time the totalisator was being patronised by only a few stragglers who were probably imbued with purely gambling instincts, and who were not particularly desirous of obtaining the best possible view of the race. It is safe to say that many thousands did not make any investment on the race. They went solely to see the champions in action, and monetary interests became a secondary consideration with many of the 22,000 present.

"The CJC as well as retailers, hotel keepers and bording house keepers have benefitted by the enterprise of the Metropolitan Trotting Club in arranging the match races. One incident will give some idea of the tremendous interest it has engended. Of nine men staying at one hotel, six admitted that it was the first trotting meeting they had attended. That is a large percentage and does not hold good in all cases. But one can safely assume that the increase of 11,985 in the totalisator investments on the first day was represented by the drawing influence of the Invitation Match.

Walla Walla was the first horse to enter the birdcage and when he was driven round by his owner, unstinted applause came from the dense crowd around the birdcage. It had an unsettling effect on Walla Walla, who got on his toes immediately and showed nervousness during the preliminary that his owner stated was due to the surroundings and a multitude his champion had never seen before. When Harold Logan appeared, prancing along to the plaudits that only a public idol receives, the hero of 'ten thousand' fights was given the warmest reception of all the contestants. He has gained a place in the estimation of the sporting public that will never be surpassed, even when his memory is dimmed with time. Red Shadow, the best conditioned horse of the field, made a marvellous impression in his 'Sunday waistcoat' as he was enthusiastically received. Roi l'Or, who, perhaps, did not look as though he had all his medals on, also came in for a tremendous round of applause, and little Jewel Pointer was received as a battle-scarred old veteran with a runner's chance.

"Walla Walla and Roi l'Or were both restive at the start, and they held up the despatch for nearly two minutes. Harold Logan stood like a statue, and Red Shadow and Jewel Pointer gave little trouble. Walla Walla continued to rear up and back out, but eventually they were all caught nearly in line. Walla Walla began ver fast and was soon showing out from Harold Logan and Red Shadow, while Roi l'Or and Jewel Pointer were slow to muster their speed. Walla Walla drew out by two lengths clear of Harold Logan at the end of a quarter, and Red Shadow was about the same distance back, and then Jewel Pointer and Roi l'Or at close intervals. Jewel Pointer moved up to be almost on terms with Red Shadow three furlongs from home, but from this stage the race was a duel between Walla Walla and Harold Logan. Walla Walla reached the straight with Harold Logan challenging on the outside of him.

"The crowd had cheered wildly from the outset, but when Harold Logan drew up to Walla Walla a furlong from the post, the mingled advice and exhortations were deafening. 'Harold Logan wins' came from thousands of throats and halfway down the straight the New Zealander certainly appeared to have the measure of the
Australian. About 50 yards from the post they drew level again, but Walla Walla had a little in reserve, and gradually drew out from Harold Logan, and passed the post a neck in front. Red Shadow, flat out, was three lengths away, Jewel Pointer four lengths farther back, and Roi l'Or about two lengths away.

"The crowd literally went mad with delight. They would have liked to see our champion beat Walla Walla, but the fact that the Australian came again when apparently beaten, and won the most hair raising duel ever witnessed at Addington, left them hoarse but satisfied. It took the police all their time to prevent a section of the crowd from mobbing the winner when he was returning to the birdcage, but more was to follow. On their way back to the sheds, Walla Walla and Mr Martin were effectively mobbed. Police protection had to be availed of, and, before the crowd dispersed, several volunteers had to be called upon to protect the police, or assist them. 'My greatest hope has been realised,' stated Mr Martin. 'The demonstration fairly staggered me.' 'The best horse won,' said Mr E F C Hinds, owner of Harold Logan. 'I am quite satisfied.'"

The best horse had won and in world record time for a standing start mile of 2:04.2.

The subsequent invitation races at Addington, Alexandra Park, Forbury Park, Oamaru and Wellington were understandably anti-climatic, with Walla Walla failing to reproduce his best.

The second day of Addington's Easter meeting saw Walla Walla, Harold Logan, Red Shadow, Jewel Pointer and Ces Donald's Lindbergh return for a clash over a mile and a half. Harold Logan won easily after Walla Walla had put his foot through Jewel Pointer's cart with about a mile to run. Walla Walla had begun slowly and was trying to get out of a pocket on the rails when the incident occurred. A youthful Maurice Holmes who drove Harold Logan throughout the series, received some criticism for "walking" the field in the early stages. With Harold Logan reeling of his last half mile in close to 59 seconds, he gave nobody a show, beating Red Shadow by a length with Lindbergh and Walla Walla six lengths away. Harold Logan recorded 3:16.4 for the journey, more than two seconds slower than Worthy Queen took in the main trot later in the day, recording 3:14.2 from 60 yards. Worthy Queen's time was to stand as a record for almost 20 years, Dictation reducing it in the early 1950s.

A few days later Walla Walla, along with stablemate Auburn Lad and Worthy Queen, was back at Addington for a special attack on a 2:00 mile. Auburn Lad, also by Globe Derby, was owned, trained and driven by Bill McKay, who had accompanied Martin to NZ to drive Walla Walla. Auburn Lad had won well on the second day of the Easter meeting, beating Roi l'Or and Kingcraft over two miles. Several thousand enthusiasts were on hand to witnessthe time trials, but any chance of Australasia's first 2:00 mile were extinguished when one of those infamous Canterbury easterlies blew up. Walla Walla was the first to trial and sensationally raced up the Addington straight, into the wind, to pass the first quarter in 28 seconds, carrying on to the half in 58.4. Not surprisingly, he tired noticeably over the final quarter, taking over 34 seconds to complete the mile in 2:03.8. More sensibly handled by McKay, Auburn Lad went through the sections in 29.6, 60.8, amd 1:30.6 and stopping the clock at 2:02.4, equalling Walla Walla's Australasian mile record.

However the star of the show was Jack Shaw's sleek little trotting mare Worthy Queen. Trotting in the style she had become so admired for, Worthy Queen passed each quarter in close to even time, and although tiring as she completed the journey, recorded 2:03.6, a mark which stood as the fastest in NZ for no less than 30 years. Worthy Queen failed to win a race afterwards, being handicapped out of most events and more often than not competing against pacers, where she was placed three times, including a third to Indianapolis at Wellington later in the season. She had her last start in the 1934 Dominion Handicap over a mile and a half, finishing fourth after sharing the back mark of 36 yards with the winner Trampfast, Huon Voyage, Olive Nelson and Wrackler, the latter three being past winners of the event.

The third and fourth rounds of the invitation races were held at Alexandra Park. Harold Logan was an easy winner of the first, leading throughout to beat Auburn Lad and Red Shadow, but in the second he drifted off the rails at a vital stage and allowed Impromptu and Red Shadow through to beat him narrowly. Walla Walla had not travelled north but he and Harold Logan clashed at Forbury Park where the track was so bad they were forced to race in the centre of the course. Walla Walla set a strong pace in the early stages but had no answer when challenged by Harold Logan in the straight. The concluding invitation events at Oamaru and Wellington also fell easy prey to Harold Logan, with Walla Walla struggling. However it was later revealed that the stallion had been suffering from a severe cold.

Walla Walla returned to Australia to enjoy a long and successful stud career at the property of his owner, dying in 1952 at the age of 30. He sired numerous top class performers, including Radiant Walla, Wirra Walla (grandsire of Apmat), Bruce Walla and the dam of Ribands, but unfortunately nothing anywhere near his own class.



Credit: Frank Marrion writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 8Feb84

 

YEAR: 1914

BERTHABELL

BERTHABELL(1909 Peter The Great-Corona Mack). Dam Corona Mack was by Wilkes Boy(sire of Grattan, great Canadian family) with her third dam being the founding mare of USA family Kate by Highland Chief; placed as a pacer, $111; 16 foals, 11 winners. Breeder: C G Thompson, Kentucky, USA. Imported by and all her foals bred by E X (Etienne) Le Lievre, Akaroa(Oinako Stud).

The immortal trotting broodmare, Berthabell, was foaled in North America and was imported to NZ by Etienne Le Lievre in 1914 together with a filly foal by Bingen(Bell Bingen) and in foal to The Harvester whose colt foal died within days of birth. Imported at the same time was Nelson Bingen who went on to be a leading stallion. Le Lievre successfully imported from North America a number of sires including Harold Dillon, Wallace L, Great Audubon, Guy Parrish, Travis Axworthy and many mares apart from Berthabell(Miss Spear, Muriel Madison, Grattanette, Solon Gazella).

Berthabell raced as a pacer on five occasions producing three placings(two seconds and the third). Berthabell's female progeny included six daughters all of whom bred on leaving large families. It is only possible to provide a subjective snapshot of some of the better performers.

Bell Bingen was her first, foaled in North America and crippled when shipped to New Zealand with her dam. She did not race but produced many foals most of them were female, including Belita: grand dam of Au Fait(Trotting Stakes-three, Dominion Hcp) and sister Precocious(ID Trotting Final, Dominion Hcp, NZ Trotting FFA), 5th dam of Admiral Holliday(VIC Derby, Golden Nugget);Mavis Bingen: 4th dam of Spry(NZ/Kaikoura Cups) and Berkleigh(NZ Derby, Ashburton Cup), family of iron horse, Ldle Scott(219 starts-46 wins[36 at Alexandra Park}/75 placings $1/2m, Rowe Cup, National Trot twice, NZ Trotting FFA, Trotter of the Year, NZ Hall of Fame), Tip Your Hat(Qld Derby); Mavis De Oro: Kotare Knight, Deep Court, Henschke(SA Derby); Cyone: left a son of Logan Derby in Vodka(Dominion Hcp, NZ Trotting FFA, first Australasian winner in North America, NZ Hall of Fame), Mi Coconut(VIC Queen of Pacific), Die Wondering(NSW SS-2f); Parrish Belle(Rowe Cup); Young Travis(Westport Cup).

Bell Nelson, unraced, was the 4th dam of top performer Our Mana(Easter Cup, twice second in NZ Cup/second AK Cup) and a good mile performer(NZ Flying Mile, Down Under Miler/Waikato Flying Miles twice). He was the winner of the inaugural $10,000 West Coast bonus for winning three races on the Christmas circuit. Bertha Bingen, was the winner of two pacing races at Wanganui and grand dam of Indomitable(Rowe Cup). Bessie Bingen, twice a winner whose major credits were Contender(GN Stakes-2, GN Derby) and trotter Bessie Parrish. Corona Bell, winner of one trotting race when raced as a four- to eight-year-old, left Hopeful(Taranaki Cup). Bertha Parrish, Berthabell's final foal, was dam of Sea Gypsy who left NZ Cup winner Our Roger(Louisson Hcp, Ashburton Flying Stakes).

From Berthabell's female branch of the Kate family have come three winners of the Rowe Cup - 1937 Parrish Belle, 1950 Indomitable and 1990 Idle Scott.

Many of Berthabell's male progeny were successful in the breeding shed. Great Parrish(Guy Parrish) raced from a two-until a ten-year-old and was the winner of 14 races including two as a two-year-old (Hawkes Bay), GN Derby and an Auckland Cup at six, the latter two wins for J.T.(Jim) Paul. His 41 winners included Otahuhu Cup winner Parrish Lad, Bonniedene(GN Derby), Bold Venture(AK Cup trial, 2nd AK Cup) and damsire of Indian Parrish(Rowe Cup), champion Australian mare Angelique(VIC Oaks, SA Cup), Gold Horizon(NZ Trotting FFA and NZ Hambletonian twice), Pleasant Smile(Otahuhu Cup). Ringtrue(Travis Axworthy), was the winner of ten races(Five as a three-year-old), nine of which were at Alexandra Park and FPTC's, sire of 46 winners(Parshall) including 21 pacers in Australia having stood at Inverell(NSW) in early 1950's.

Berthabelle produced six brothers by Nelson Bingen who finished top of the sires list in 1928-29 and 1929-30, was five times placed and left 219 winners with stake earnings approaching 191,000. The one gelded son was trotter Great Nelson whose five wins were spread over 6 seasons including NZ Sires Produce - 3T at Forbury Park.

Her siring sons were led by Great Bingen, a high class pacer whose 26 wins(22 NZ, four AUS)including a NZFFA, Australian Championships(four wins, beaten by Taraire in final), Dunedin and Exhibition Cups at Forbury, Christchurch and New Brighton Hcps. He won the York Hcp(108 yards behind) at New Brighton before the Duke of York,(later to become King George VI). He was placed second twice in NZ Cups, fourth on one occasion as well as twice fourth in Auckland Cups, often from lengthy marks. During his career, Great Bingen won six Free-For-Alls. His 2:07.6 placed him among the first hundred NZ horses in 2:10 and in finishing third over two miles in 4:19.8(108 yards) at Alexandra Park, he was the first horse outside America to go under 4:20. Great Bingen was leading stake earner in 1925/6(4,015) and his total stake winnings of 14,120 stood as a record for 17 years.

Great Bingen was the first stallion to stand stud duties for Sir John McKenzie leaving 46 winners including Taxpayer/Double Great(NZ Derby), Refund/Great News(Welligton Stakes - 3) and dual gaited Dark Hazard. His broodmare sire credits included Bintravis(WA Cup), Bonnidene(GN Derby), Powerful Lady(NZ Oaks), Tapuwae(Rowe Cup) and Crocus, grand dam of Sole Command(NZ/AK Cups, Horse of Year). Great Bingen died in May 1945 in his 26th year at Roydon Lodge.

Peter Bingen started his career as a trotter which included a second in the NZ Trotting Stakes - 3. He became a high class pacer, his 16 wins including consecutive NZ Cups and a NZFFA(three times second), National Cup and Canterbury Hcps. He was also placed second in an Auckland Cup and a division of NZ Cup. His 2:07.0 placed him among the first hundred NZ horses in 2:10.

Hid 45 winners included three time Otahuhu Cup winner Double Peter, Peter Smith (FFA/big stake winner), Peters Find (GN Derby) and damsire of NZ Derby winner Single Medoro. Worthy Bingen, recorded four wins in his three seasons of racing. The sire of 33 winners of whom 21 were trotters, he was rated the best sire of the brothers by journalist Karl Scott. He sired Worthy Queen whose T2:03.6TT(took 5.4 seconds off previous record) set in 1934 stood as a NZ Trotters mile record for 28 years and Tan John(Dominion Hcp). Great Peter had three wins as a three-year-old including GN Derby and the final running of the Champion Stakes at Addington in 1927 before its transfer to Ashburton. He won again at Auckland at both four and five before his final three victories(eight in total) came as a six-year-old during the Auckland Summer carnival. He retired after being unplaced at seventh but died shortly thereafter. Baron Bingen won seven races and was exported to the United Kingdom to stand at stud.

Berthabell died at Oinako Stud aged 23, her progeny won close to 100 races and over 35,000 in stakes, much of it during the depression years.

Credit: Peter Craig writing in Harnessed 2014



In the event that you cannot find the information you require from the contents, please contact the Racing Department at Addington Raceway.
Phone (03) 338 9094