YEAR: 1964


The death was reported recently of Snowflake, whose 3-year-old record of 4.18 for two miles, established in 1947, still stands. By Dillon Hall from Silk Stockings, Snowflake was registered as a 2-year-old as a skewbald filly, and won, and lost, her first and only race at that age. Snowflake won the Great Northern Stakes by three lengths, but was later disqualified on a registration technicality.

At her first start as a 3-year-old, Snowflake was beaten by half a head in the Canterbury 3-year-old stakes by Free Fight. At her next race attempt, Snowflake again had to be content with second place, this time to Branford at Geraldine. Three starts later Snowflake took her place in the NZ Derby Stakes, and once again Free Fight proved her master.

Snowflake later struck a solid patch of form, winning three consecutive races - the Great Northern Derby, the Bruntwood Handicap at the Waikato meeting and the Campbell Handicap at Auckland. Snowflake's record-breaking two mile effort came in the Liverpool Handicap at Addington, in which she started from 48 yards, her 4.18 lowering Indianapolis's long-standing record by five seconds.

Snowflake won at four and five years and gained one second at six years. Her career was brought to an end when she met with an accident. Snowflake won £6030 in stakes, the result of six wins and 12 placings, and at stud she has been represented by the winners Moray, Elegant and Reputation.

Credit: Írvington' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 28Oct64


YEAR: 1963


L F Berkett, best known as the trainer who persuaded Highland Fling to be reasonable when that champion pacer's racing career had arrived almost at a full-stop, was one of the most successful men - he was nothing if not original - associated with trotting over a lengthy period. He was the leading trainer and driver in the 1946-47 season. Leo Berkett's death occurred on Monday. He was 75.

Until he shifted from Nelson to Templeton in 1945, Berkett had been a farmer on an extensive scale, and with him trotting was not then the full-time occupation he later made it in Canterbury. Berkett made a sensational if unorthodox entry into the light-harness sport in the year 1920. Berkett's father before him farmed at Hope, but there was no strong racing affiliations in the family. In fact, until young Leo Berkett exchanged with a local clergyman a quiet hack for a grey mare, the latter ostensibly for farm work, he had never dreamed of becoming actively engaged in the trotting sport.

Up till that time Berkett had seldom been on a racecourse, but the grey mare known as Wairoa Belle changed all that. She at least had some good pacing blood on one side of her lopsided pedigree - she was by Dictator - and in skirmishes on the road with some fleet-footed harness horses in the district she acquitted herself with so much distinction that Berkett was persuaded to race her. A set of hopples was secured and Berkett went to work to train the "old grey mare" - she was aged by this time - for a race at Nelson. Minus a stopwatch and other appurtenances, Berkett trained tha mare from memory or instinct or something, but his system somehow worked wonders, because Wairoa Belle, after an unplaced performance on the first day, led all the way on the second day and paid the record NZ dividend of £1033 5s. Berkett did not participate in it.

After that Berkett soon rose to prominence. He will always rank as one of the keenest judges of horse-flesh ever associated with trotting. No doubt he had his share of luck, but he was successful too long and too often for luck to have been the mainspring of his success. Many of the horses he developed into winners were complete cast-offs. For instance, Nicoya, whom he bought at auction for 4½gns, and developed into a top class trotter; Douglas McElwyn who reached the free-for-all class among the trotters; Stop Press who cost him only a few pounds; and Karangi, who cost him £10. And there were others. An outstanding one was Nyallo Scott, who will be referred to at some length later.

A good horse that helped to put Berkett before the Addington public was Imprint, who won the National Cup in 1927 and reached Cup company.In Dilworth Bekett bought out a champion 3-year-old filly. Few better mares have raced in this country than the daughter of Travis Axworthy and Muriel Dillon. She won her way to NZ Cup company and at one time her 4.19 4/5 for two miles was a joint Dominion record for a mare.

Berkett took classic honours with the wonderful skewbald filly Snowflake, winner of the Great Northern Derby, and whose 4.18 for two miles at Addington at Easter, 1947, broke Indianapolis's long-standing 3-year-old record for the distance by five seconds. Berkett also won the NZ Trotting Stakes, for 3-year-olds, with Temple Star, whom he purchased as a 2-year-old at auction for 150gns; and the same race with Ariel Scott for Mr J Spiers. Berkett also owned and trained Toushay, who lowered the mile and a quarter trotting record for Australasia to 2.40 4/5 in 1948; and he trained and owned Keen Blade when that trotter for a period held the mile and five furlongs Australasian trotting record.

But Highland Fling was his finest hour; the U Scott flyer placed Berkett under the world spotlight.

Many of us still regard Highland Fling as the mightiest pacer ever to blaze the light-harness tracks of the Dominion. And he was only six years old when, with 'the world' virtually at his feet, he broke a sesamoid bone in a foot and had to be retired to the stud. Small consolation that his racing career terminated in a blaze of glory, because here was the horse of the century, here was the horse who might have proved the best in the world. Highland Fling proved himself a champion 2-year-old - his mile race record of 2.10 still stands - and a top 3-year-old.

The following season Highland Fling entered on his busiest period, but in his first nine starts, when was returned only once a winner, he began to earn the reputation of being both brilliant and erratic. He was not only refusing to move away from the barrier in reasonably good style, but he was also showing a disinclination to face up to the tasks asked of him in the running. Various types of harness were tried on him without bringing any marked improvement in his race-day manners. Highland Fling was regarded by many as a 'problem child' - a pacer capable of measuring strides with the best, but one with definite ideas of his own.

It was at this critical stage of his career that Highland Fling was taken over by L F Berkett, and this marked the beginning of a new era in his life. Highland Fling was about to arrive. In his first race under the Templeton trainer he ran second behind Gold Peg in the New Brighton Handicap, run at Addington, and the same mare, a noted mud lark, again defeated him later on the same day over a mile and a quarter. Highland Fling still retained a good measure of his unreliableness, but his brilliancy and stamina were strikingly revealed in his third start under Berkett, when he won the Craven Handicap, a 4.32 class from 36 behind. Highland Fling broke early and was all of 100 yards behind the leaders when he settled down. Most people counted him out when he was still in a seemingly hopeless position at the mile. To cut a long story short, Highland Fling was separately timed to run the last mile and a half in 3.07 and he won with astounding ease. He proved that he was a champion here, and to emphasise that he was still far from infallible, he failed badly later on the same day in an event run over one mile and a quarter. Highland Fling then commenced his rapid rise to the best classes, his last 11 starts as a 4-year-old resulting in six wins and one minor placing, and he was now assessed in NZ Cup company.

As a 5-year-old Highland Fling went from success to success, registering amazingly brilliant performances over all distances, and often still displaying a tendency to leave the barrier indifferently. His wins at this period included the Winter Handicap and Lightning Free-for-all, run at Addington in August; the NZ Cup; the Wellington Cup; the A I Rattray Handicap and the Otago Pacing Free-for-all. His earnings in that season amounted to £15,835 - a record total for a horse of any gait in NZ.

Highland Fling made history in 1948 by winning his second NZ Cup in the then world's race record time of 4.10 3/5 for the two miles, and this, combined with his subsequent and successful attempts against time, gained him world-wide recognition. It was then claimed of him that he was the best horse in the world, and that description could not in any measure be regarded as an exaggeration. Highland Fling in action was superb.

Highland Fling, winner of the last race he contested, retired with an unequalled record. He not only held the world's two-mile record, but his 2.10 race record as a 2-year-old still stands; he bettered 2.00 on three occasions, his best being 1.57 4/5 (since bettered by Caduceus 1.57 3/5); and he held the world's grass track record of 2.00 for one mile. His total stake-winnings, at the time of his retirement, exceeded those of any horse raced solely in NZ.

A week after his second NZ Cup victory Highland Fling went the mile against time in 1.59 2/5, equalling Lawn Derby's long-standing mile record established in November 1938, also at Addington. The following Friday Highland Fling again went against the record and his sensational figures of 1.57 4/5 were a further triumph for the unconventional training and driving methods of L F Berkett. The usual procedure in trials against time is a strong warm-up and a galloping pacemaker. Berkett dispensed with both and shattered the previous record, by 1 3/5 secs. The spectacle of Highland Fling's lone role was a thrilling one - propably much more so than it would have been with a pace-maker, and the public appeal of the trial was emphasised by packed stands and enclosures although the starting time for the first race was still half an hour away.

Berkett rated Highland Fling to perfection: the first quarter in 29 secs, half-mile in 58 2/5 secs, six furlongs in 1.28 3/5, and full journey in 1.57 4/5. The last half-mile showed 59 2/5 secs and the last quarter 29 1/5 secs. A warm ovation awaited Highland Fling and Berkett when they returned to the birdcage, and Berkett's deep satisfaction with the greatest mile paced outside of America was betrayed by his permitting himself one of his isolated smiles. Six hours after breaking the mile record, Highland Fling was harnessed up for the NZ Premier Sprint Championship, which he won by a safe margin after being left flat-footed at the start. Berkett's coolness and unconcern at this initial setback was not lost upon the crowd, and also made a profound impression upon many of the sports oldest adherents.

In the NZ Pacing Free-For-All the following day, the extent to which Single Direct and Integrity were stopping at the close was revealed by the fact they took 1.09 2/5 to run the last half-mile and 36 secs for the last quarter. This is no distraction from the performance of either; Integrity's effort to slip the field - he was 40 yards clear of anything else with half a mile covered - and Single Direct's lion-hearted run to overhaul him, set Highland Fling the impossible. Losing 60 yards at the start, Highland Fling had drifted nearly half a furlong behind the leaders with a mile and a quarter to go. He came his last mile in 2.07 2/5 on the soft track and only a veritable pacing machine could have made up 100 yards of this leeway from that point and finish third.

Highland Fling a few weeks later went 1.58 against time on the five furlong Forbury Park track, which compares most favourably with anything done on the best American half-mile tracks.

The editor of the NZ Trotting Calendar was surprised one afternoon in March 1949, to receive advice from tolls that Mr Bernard Kearney, vice-president of the Western Harness Racing Association, Los Angeles, California, wished to talk to him about Highland Fling. The editor lost no time in inviting Mr Kemble and Berkett to the Calendar office. They were all 'on their toes' awaiting the call, but it did not come through - Mr Kearney later cabled as follows: "We have races of $65,000 for which Highland Fling is eligible, October 8 through November 26 (1949), Hollywood Park. If owner interested cable us immediately, and I will telephone details - Bernard Kearney, Western Harness Racing Association."

Highland Fling's connections, obviously flattered by the American cablegram, said they had already discussed the idea of taking Highland Fling to the States to race, but that October and November would not suit their plans. One of their main ambitions was to win a third NZ Cup with their champion. Mr Kemble authorised the editor of the Trotting Calendar to reply to Mr Kearny as follows: "Dates mentioned do not suit. Definitely interested later."

Hot on the heels of the cablegram came this letter from Mr Kearney to the editor of the Calendar: Dear Sir, We have been reading, with great interest, stories carried in the American Harness Magazine, 'Horseman and Fair World' about the phenomenal feats of that world champion pacer, Highland Fling. To say the least it has everyone hereabouts really thrilled and excited. First, we wish to offer out heartiest congratulations to the owner, as well as the trainer and driver of this great animal. We are sorry none of the stories we have read tell the owner's name. Thus we cabled you hoping you would relay our message to the proper party. The Western Harness Racing Association, with headquarters in Los Angeles, California, offers this year one of the greatest stake programmes for just such a horse, the $50,000 Golden West Pace, which attracts the best horses from all over the United States. This event will be raced at Hollywood Park, Inglewood, California, one of the finest and most beautiful racecourses in America, on Saturday, November 12, at a distance of one mile and a quarter. Aside from this race there are others in our condition book in which Highland Fling could qualify to win a total of $65,000 in purses during a 35-day meet, which starts October 8 and continues through November 26, 1949. These races are outlined in detail in the condition book enclosed in this letter. We are exceptionally interested in the possibilities of the owner shipping Highland Fling to the United States for this race meeting. If interested there is plenty of time to ship the horse by water, or perhaps the owner would be interested in flying the horse here. In either case we are prepared to offer and international publicity campaign and build Highland Fling into the greatest public favourite that has ever come from the country 'Down Under.' This campaign would include newspaper reports, photographs, newsreel motion pictures, magazine articles and other forms of media publicity. This publicity, if the owner is interested, would make it possible to sell the horse in this country at a nice profit. The latter possibility is brought out only should the owner wish to sell after the campaign in America. If you would contact the owner and deliver this message we would be very appreciative. Thanking you in advance for your interest in this matter, we wish to remain, Sincerely yours, Bernard Kearney."

Early in 1949 another American visitor to NZ, Mr C Richarson wrote to the American weekly magazine 'Horseman and Fair World," as follows:
"Attracted by the brilliant record of Highland Fling, the idol of NZ, I resolved to see this sensational hoppled pacing son of U Scott and Queen Ayesha. On arrival in Auckland, I found that although the residence of his owner A T Kemble is there, the object of my quest was in Christchurch, the centre of harness racing in the South Island. When I reached Christchurch I got in touch with C S Thomas, president of the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club there. I had heard that Highland Fling had an injured leg, and was told that his trainer L F Berkett, was away, but Mr Thomas graciously took me to Berkett's place. Mr Kemble's son whom we found there, took us across the road to a pasture, in which was the horse I was most anxious to see.

Taking a halter lying by the gate he spoke to Highland Fling, who readily submitted to our inspection. He is a thoroughly relaxed horse. This 6-year-old wonder horse is about 16 hands high, rather on the lanky side, and is a dark bay with three white feet and a white spot on his forehead. He is a clean-cut individual and looked to be in splendid condition except for his lameness, the exact cause of which the younger Mr Kemble said he did not know.

Highland Fling's record is most interesting. Bred by Mrs K Bare, of Christchurch, his sire, as has been stated is the now 17-year-old U Scott, by Scotland. Highland Fling's dam, owned by Mrs K Bare, is Queen Ayesha, a bay pacing mare by Frank Worthy; dam Royal Empress by Logan Pointer. Both Frank Worthy and Logan Pointer were imported from the United States. Queen Ayesha is said to have shown early speed, but had no record, breaking down and subsequently being used as a broodmare. Mrs Bare sold Highland Fling as a yearling for a reported £100, and I imagine has regretted it ever since. As a 2-year-old he was surprisingly fast, pacing a mile in 2.10. As a 3-year-old he had an off year, not getting right until late in the season, and winning only twice. It was then that he was taken over by L F Berkett, a trainer who turned from farming to noteworthy success with harness horses.

Many stories are told of Berkett, one being that he puts his horses to the plough. He apparently never pampers a horse in the slightest, but either because of his rough and ready methods, or in spite of them, he has had remarkable results. Whether Highland Fling was used with a plough or not, his improvement was steady under Berkett's tutelage, and as a 4-year-old he won eight times and did two miles in 4.13 4/5. As a 5-year-old he won the NZ Cup and had nine wins. As a 6-year-old, besides winning the NZ Cup for the second time he made several records, including a mile in 1.57 4/5 and two miles in 4.10 3/5. He has been timed a quarter in 27 4/5 and a half in 57 4/5. The ordinary spectators are completely thrilled by his rousing finishes, and hail his victories with triumphant acclaim. Highland Fling's competitive spirit is tremendous and Berkett rarely has to put any pressure on him. His utter relaxation is shown by the fact that, while many horses won't eat right after a race, he eats like a plough horse. Highland Fling's racing career seems to be drawing to a close. He has beaten all his rivals; in fact there are only two or three that can give him any noticeable argument. The national appeal of Highland Fling is truly extraordinary. It was a distinct dissappointment to me that I did not see him race, because this darling of NZ sports lovers is, to all who have seen his amazing victories, a real superhorse."

That is what they thought of Highland Fling in the USA. They were prepared to build him into the 'greatest public favourite' ever to leave our shores, and what a worthy ambassador he must have been for us!

Leo Berkett always had a warm spot for Westport meetings, because it was at the Buller coal-mining centre that he first got his footing in the light-harness sport. 'Bunter' Connolly, then on the staff of the old 'Westport News' and now the Westport representative of a number of newspapers was good enough to write an article for the Calendar in January 1953, just after Leo Berkett had returned to the annual Westport meeting following a long absence from his erst-while 'happy hunting ground'.

"On this occasion," wrote Bunter, "Leo Berkett travelled in comfort with his three horses on the special horse train from Christchurch, in striking contrast to the strenuous excursions of his initial racing days of the early 1920s. Then it was one of the events of the year at Westport when Berkett's rodeo pulled into town, completing the long journey from Hope of more than three days. The horses, usually large strings of up to 14 to cover the West Coast circuit, were railed to Glenhope and from there the three-day trek through the windy Buller Gorge commenced.

Covering about 30 miles each day, the Berketts and their horses (the father was usually accompanied by his sons Colin and Noel, now leading trainers in their own right), made Murchison on the first night, then Inangahua Junction, and the final stretch was to Westport. On occasions the expert horsewoman Doris Berkett (now Mrs Prince, of Christchurch) accompanied her father and brothers, and she worked as hard as any of them in the training schedules. There was little pampering of his string by Leo Berkett, who trained many of his horses in the plough or with other heavy work. On arrival at Westport they were quickly turned out into open paddocks without the luxury of clean, tidy boxes, and then, on the following morning, they would be given fast work on the old Mill Street track. Usually the Berkett team was the first to arrive at Westport for these annual meetings, and no horses arrtacted more attention from the rail-sitters than the hardy bunch from Hope.

For a long time Leo Berkett had to do all his own driving, but as his sons gained experience, they made up a formidible trio, seldom failing to win their share of races. Then the call to higher circles tempted the father, and he moved to Canterbury, with outstanding success as the trainer of the champion Highland Fling and other brilliant performers. Leo Berkett topped both the winning trainers' and horsemans' lists in the 1946-47 season, and two horses trained by him, Nyallo Scott £7730, and Highland Fling £6685, were at the head of the winning horses the same season.

The success of Pipe Dream and Excellenza, two of his trio, on the last excursion [1953] recalled to mind the splendid record of the Berkett family on the old clay track, facing Mill Street. There they raced such fine performers as Imprint, Douglas McElwyn, Mae Wynne, Nelsonian, Plain Pearl, Bronte, Wairoa Belle, Gunman, Bulldozer and Juliana. Some of these horses went on to the best class at Addington, and drew attention to the unorthodox training methods of Berkett Snr. Leo Berkett, looking at fit as ever, was happy to get back to Westport, and the club there was very happy to have him, as no person in it's long history has made a greater contribution to the club's progress," concluded Bunter Connolly's tribute of January, 1953.

Nyallo Scott, who met with an injury as a young horse, was leased by L F Berkett from Sir John McKenzie as a rising 6-year-old in 1944, and during the following three seasons the U Scott-Nyallo gelding won 16 races and £9917 in stakes. In the 1946-47 season he won 11 races and £7730 and was the leading stake-winner of the Dominion that term. Berkett finally trained Nyallo Scott to win the Ferguson Handicap at Auckland, when he put in a remarkable performance from the 96 yards mark to beat Lone Raider (scr)and Single Direct in 4.20. Among Nyallo Scott's other wins were the 1947 Dunedin Cup, and the August Pacing Free-for-all at the NZ Metropolitan National meeting the same year. In the latter race he put up a mighty performance to defeat two champions in Emulous and Haughty, and among the unplaced runners were his renowned stablemate Highland Fling besides Gold Bar and Loyal Nurse.

Credit: 'Ribbonwood'writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 17Apr63


YEAR: 1939


When older breeders study the claims made for some recent imported sires and how well they are bred they can be forgiven a weary smile. To here some tell it, it is only in the last few years that NZ studmasters imported top-bred stallions, the inference being that sires of the past were practically given away by their American owners because no stud in that country would look at them.

This is, with respect, a load of rubbish. One example was Guy Parrish imported in the 1920s who was a full brother to the champion American pacer Arion Guy, and an even better one was Dillon Hall, five times leading sire and, if you probe below the surface, a good bet as the finest sire we have had. I would suggest to stud advertisement compilers who browbeat breeders with long lines of statistics and how impressive second and third placings were, that they have yet to be asked to design an advertisement for a better bred stallion than Dillon Hall, who was imported to this country by George Youngson and his wife in 1939, complete with a two-minute record, which was not all that easy to get in those days.

Dillon Hall, who took his two-minute mark at four years was by the Peter The Great horse The Laurel Hall, sire of two-minute performers and a success in the United States before being exported to Italy where he was very popular, his world record holding son Prince Hall, sire of Medoro, also being bought by the Italians. His dam, Margaret Dillon, was the champion pacing mare from 1922 when she recorded 1:58.2 - sensational going then - her record not being beaten for 16 years. She is rated as one of the three greatest pacing mares of all time. Her dam, Margaret Primo, was by Peter The Great, making Dillon Hall line bred to that great progenitor, and was a daughter of another champion racemare in Margaret O. The latter's dam was a full sister to the legendary sire Axworthy making Dillon Hall richly bred to the two greatest sires of this century. It is difficult to think of a better female line among sires imported here.

Dillon Hall sired 397 winners in this country and his cause was helped by his getting the great mudlark Acropolis in his first crop. Acropolis won 11 races and $25,000 but was not his sire's finest offspring despite the good start he gave him. Chamfer won 14 races including the NZ Cup and was a leading sire in Australia. Maori Home won 17 races and $37,000 and Parawa Derby was not far behind winning $32,000 from 15 victories. Blue Mist was a great Dillon Hall mare winning 14 races in NZ and setting a world record over 1½ miles in Australia of 3:03.2. Our Roger also won the Cup and 14 other races for $30,000 odd and Dragoman won 12. Lady Averill was a top performer and Maida Dillon won 13 races for nearly $20,000.

Perhaps one of Dillon Hall's finest sons was First Lord, who had a career interrupted by injury after winning 10 races. He was noted for his acceleration and did fairly well as a sire. Snowflake was another fine Dillon Hall mare, holding the 3-year-old two mile record for many years and winning six races including the Great Northern Derby. Heather Dillon won 12 and Belmont Hall numbered the Champion Stakes among his wins. Centennial Hall, Duncraig (9 wins), Aberhall (11) and Prince Hall (10) were other good winners, and one of his best trotting sons was Swannee River, who won ten races in all. It was surprising that Dillon Hall did not leave more good trotters for his sire was successful in producing horses of that gait in Italy.

These were the cream of his crops but he left a great number of 'bread and butter' horses who were sturdy and long lasting and who liked racing on any tracks, being particularly adept in heavy going. If Dillon Hall had made an indelible impression as a sire his mares were in great demand and today any Dillon Hall blood in the veins of a broodmare in considered highly desirable. And no wonder. Offspring of his mares have left more than 550 winners. To look at the tops there was Orbiter, winner of nearly $400,000, Robin Dundee, winner of 25 races in NZ alone and altogether winner of nearly a quarter of a million dollars. There was Inter-Dominion winner Free Hall, Student Prince, top pacer Don Hall and the brilliant Sun Chief, winner of 12 including the NSW Derby. Moss Hall and King Hal both won 11, Samantha won 15 including a Wellington Cup and Doctor Dan, Gildirect, Seafield Lad, Denbry and Tobacco Road were all top horses. Another was Smokeaway who won 12 races.

We could go on for hours but should mention Tobias winner of 17 here, Bramble Hall winner of over $160,000, Bay Foyle now at stud here, Stewart Hanover who has won over $220,000, top Australian pacer Imatoff, Monsignor (1:59) winner of 10, Twinkle Hanover, Smoke Cloud and Miss Step. Then there was Roy Grattan, a half brother to Don Hall, and winner of nine and Global Hall, from the same family, who won 10 trotting including the Rowe Cup. Tutta Bella produced eight good winners of over 45 races, Gaiety Hall produced five winners and Van Brabant has produced four. Maida Dillon has founded a successful tribe including Maida Million winner of over $200,000. Dilly Dally produced top trotter Annual Report and four other winners including Nocatchem and Luck's Way, and Marionette was dam of Inter-Dominion trotting champion Poupette. Doctor Barry, from the Dillon Hall mare Weekender, won 100 including the NZ Derby.

Janet Hall left the top pacer Sleek Line and her sister Ellen Hall left four Australian winners. Laura Dillon won five and left Glene, the dam of Fronto Prontezza, and her sister Laura Hall has left five Australian winners. Medium Blue, Flying Blue and Blue Emperor winners of 28 races among them came from Dillon Hall mares. Lauder Hall, who won nine herself, produced seven winners, a number of them doing well in the US. Dillon Hall was five times leading broodmare sire.

The stallion's success brought tempting offers for his owners. In 1946 the company of Matson's Ltd offered the Youngsons $10,000 for the horse allowing them to keep the full book on the lists for that season. This was a big offer but it was declined.

In all, the stock of Dillon Hall won 1507 races in this country for nearly $1½ million in prize money. His record of having been in the top three of the sire lists for 13 successive seasons is unparalleled when the length of his stud career is considered. When he won his third sire title in 1950-1 he set a new record for money won with $143,285. In Australia he sired top horses in Collaborate and Bruce Hall, the former being a leading sire in Western Australia and the latter being a success in that field as well. Chamfer was leading Australian sire seven times and Gentry, a top class pacer here, was also a successful sire in Australia and NZ. The Dillon Hall male line is defunct in this country but survives across the Tasman. First Lord ultimately went to that country.

One of the finest aspects of Dillon Hall's stud career is apt to be overlooked. That is that while he sired almost as many winners as the great U Scott he had a much shorter stud career than that horse, and shorter also than Light Brigade's. Whereas U Scott was at stud for more than 20 seasons, as was Light Brigade, Dillon Hall had but 15 seasons to make his mark. To be in the top three sires for 13 in succession underlines what a great progenitor he was. His stock generally responded to plenty of galloping and walking with a minimum of hoppled work. Properly handled their hardiness and endurance coupled with the breeding potential of his daughters made the two minute import second to none among imported sires this century.

Credit: David McCarthy writing in NZ Trotguide 13Jul77


YEAR: 1916

REFLECTION - Mystery Mare

In less than a decade the Reflection tribe through her daughter, Great Burton, a trotter of moderate ability, produced some astonishing performers virtually from nowhere. Unlike a lot of such overnight sensations this breed just went on, as the deeds of Elsu and a host of others testify. But it's beginnings seem to be almost too mundane to be true.

Michael McTeigue, who combined training with employment of the Islington Works, raced both Reflection foals Great Burton(2 wins) and Real Burton. Almost out of the blue those two really rocked the records when their respective foals, Burt Scott and Real Scott hit the tracks. McTeigue sold Burt Scott to Vis Alborn after an indifferent career start. Alborn won 10 of his first 12 starts with Burt Scott the following season, a new record for wins in one term. He was also the leading stake earner beating several famous names. These days he would have been a Pacer of the Year in virtually one season of racing!

Real Burton's foal, Real Scott,(Noble Scott) became something of a sensation in a similar style a few years later graduating to NZ Cup class from Noel Berkett's stable in one season(10 wins). That was extraordinarily difficult under the handicapping system as then operated where a horse went up a class after every win an sometimes even if second. No freebies until you got to free-for-all class.

Great Burton also left the stallion Scottish Star, the high class mare Zenith and Roydon Star ancestress of several top liners including Tobias, Take Care and Pocket Me. Zenith was prolific and it is to her Elsu traced along with stars like Tintin In America and De Lovely.

Two interesting asides, Great Burton was bred from largely by Ernest Johnson of Ellesmere, a breeder with an eye who had sold Prince Charming to Colin McLaughlin. Dick Monk carried the Great Burton line on with the Zenover branch. And from the somewhat mysterious Australian bred Reflection breed also came Silk Stockings the dam of Snowflake and other interesting skewbald pacers. Skewbald? Mmmm...that Reflection outfit was certainly different!

Credit: David McCarthy writing in Harnessed June 2016

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