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The death was reported recently of the grand trotting mare in Sea Gift.
Sea Gift was champion trotter of her era; she raced with conspicuous success for eight seasons and she took a record of 4.21 2/5 for two miles which was a record for some years. One of her greatest performances was at Forbury Park on November 28, 1936 when she downed a good field of pacers in the President's Handicap, the principal event. Sea Gift won by three lengths and returned the good time of 4.26 for the two miles. Included in the field were such pacers as Gunfire(2nd), Grace McElwyn(3rd), Iraq(4th), Pot Luck, Rocks Ahead and Bonny Azure.
Sea Gift was bred by the late H F Nicoll, Ashburton when the depression was at it's height; horses were a liability, even the good ones, and Sea Gift went under the hammer at a Durbar Lodge dispersal sale at the gift price of 6gns. Her purchaser was Mr D McNeill, but she made her first race appearance in the ownership of J Bryce, who also trained her. Foaled in 1929, Sea Gift was by Wrack (who sired innumerable high-class trotters), from an un-named mare by Paul Huon. This un-named mare was also out of an un-named mare by Franz and nothing more in known about the pedigree of Sea Gift.
Sea Gift commenced racing as a 3-year-old in the 1932-33 season and at her first start she finished third in the Longbeach Handicap at Ashburton on June 10, 1933, when trained by J Bryce and driven by A Bryce. She was unplaced at her next attempt but quickly made amends in the Foxhill Handicap on the second day of the Nelson meeting in June, the same season. This was Sea Gift's third and last start as a 3-year-old and she won by a length, beating Alf Parrish and Sister Mary.
At four years, Sea Gift started 15 times and gained four wins and three places. At her fifth start at that age - in the ownership of Mr T Smith - she won the Summer Handicap at Greymouth, beating Wahnooka by three lengths, Worthy Star being third. By this time Sea Gift was being trained by the late E J Smith, who drove her in the Summer Handicap. Sea Gift's other three successes that season were in the Peninsula Handicap at Forbury Park, the Winter Handicap at Wellington and the Progressive Handicap at Canterbury Park. These three wins were gained in succession and Sea Gift had passed into the ownership of the late Mr C M Archer and Mr D McFarlane, for whom she was still being trained by E J Smith. She was driven at Forbury Park by M Holmes, but E J Smith held the reins in her other two wins.
The 1934-5 season was a very succesful one for Sea Gift. In all, she won seven races and was placed once for £1049 in stakes, a small reward on today's standards. Her most important successes that season were in the Autumn Handicap at the Metropolitan Easter meeting and in the Elevation Handicap at Canterbury Park. In the later event, Sea Gift started from 72 yards and beat Explosion, who was on 60 yards, by a length, and ran the two-mile journey on a heavy track in 4.40 2/5. Teviot Downs, driven by J Fraser, Jnr was third and Standby was fourth.
As a 6-year-old in the 1935-6 season, Sea Gift won the Steward's Handicap on the first day of the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club's August meeting and followed this success with a clear-cut win by two lengths in the Dominion Handicap. This event was then run over one mile and a half and Sea Gift, driven by her trainer, E J Smith, started from 36 yards and won by two lengths. Runner-up to Sea Gift was Stanley T(24 yards), who was driven by R Young. Lough Guy(Limit), driven by owner R Townley was third. Sea Gift was also placed on two occasions that season, finishing third to First Wrack in the Middleton Handicap, from 84 yards and third in the High Class Handicap on the second day of the Easter meeting at Addington.
Her first appearance in the 1936-7 season as a 7-year-old resulted in a win for Sea Gift. This was in the Steward's Handicap at the August meeting at Addington. She started from 84 yards behind and beat Teviot Downs by a short head, running the mile and a half journey in 3.37 on a holding track. Sea Gift was now forced to race from long marks against those of her gait and her chances were becoming fewer and fewer. At her third start for the 1936-7 season she was beaten into second by Wrackler in the Addington Handicap and she then took on the pacers in the James Buchanan Handicap at Forbury Park. This was her first attempt against the pacers and she was beaten into second place by a good pacer in Willow Wave, driven by O E Hooper.
Despite her good showing in this event, Sea Gift was allowed to go out 8-7 in the betting in the President's Handicap on the second day, which she won by three lengths. Her next two starts resulted in two third placings and in the latter she beat all but Lucky Jack and Village Guy in the Timaru Handicap, trotting the two miles in 4.29 3/5. Sea Gift's last success as a 7-year-old was in the Halswell Handicap at the Addington Easter meeting. A field of high-class pacers lined up for this event, including Morello, Rongomai, Pot Luck, Big Author and Rocks Ahead. Trotting in her best style, Sea Gift beat them all, having a neck to spare from Morello at the post with Rongomai in third place. She ran the two-mile journey in 4.27 3/5.
This gallant little mare had 17 starts as an 8-year-old and although she failed to win a race, she was placed four times. She finished third to King's Play and Nervie's Last in the Canterbury Handicap at Addington, third in the Burwood Handicap at New Brighton to Pot Luck and Isabel Derby, second to Parisienne in the Lyttleton Handicap at Addington and second to Isabel Derby in the Timaru Cup. It was no disgrace for Sea Gift to have to go under to pacers of the calibre of those who beat her that season.
Sea Gift was nine years old in the 1938-9 season and 'father time' combined with a busy career was beginning to catch up on her. She was not a spent force however. At her second start for that season, she took her place in the National Challenge Stakes, run on the second day of the August meeting at Addington. This was a special event for trotters and pacers and was run over two miles. The field comprised King's Warrior, Sea Gift, Wahnooka, Peggoty, Waikato Prince, Ginger Jack, Lucky Jack and War Buoy. The trotters in the field started from the limit and the pacers were handicapped on 72 yards. Sea Gift trotted a gallant race and led into the straight from Wahnooka, Peggoty and King's Warrior. In the run to the judge, King's Warrior, driven by the late F J Smith, proved too good and he beat Sea Gift by two lengths with Wahnooka in third place.
Two more minor placings came Sea Gift's way that season before she managed to run home a winner. She finished fourth to Logan Derby, Southern Smile and Morello in the President's Handicap at Forbury Park and fourth in the Forbury Handicap at the same meeting to Logan Derby, Morello and Renown's Best. Before the season closed, Sea Gift returned to winning form in the James Memorial Handicap at Forbury Park, a race in which she beat Marsceres and Marlene, in the smart time of 4.24.
Sea Gift started three times at the age of 10 years, but her only glimpse of form was her fourth placing behind Marsceres, Horsepower and Silver Guy in the Queen Mary Handicap at the Addigton August meeting.
Sea Gift's record against the pacers must rank as one of the best compiled by one of her gait. She met and beat high-class pacers on three occasions and was placed nine times when racing against them. In all, Sea Gift won 18 races and was placed 21 times for £3889 in stakes. Of course stake money was microscopic then compared with 1952.
Retired to stud, Sea Gift produced Trade Wind to Lusty Volo in 1940. Trade Wind failed to win a race but on being returned to Lusty Volo, Sea Gift produced Sea Glory, who took a record of 3.58 for one mile and five furlongs as a trotter. Volo's Gift, also by Lusty Volo, was the 1942 foal of Sea Gift. He was also a useful trotter who took a record of 4.45 1/5. In 1945, Sea Gift produced Sandan to U Scott. Sandan was a good winner as a pacer in NZ, having a record of 3.18 1/5 for one mile and a half, and she has been a good winner in Australia as a trotter, where she is a record holder.
Credit: 'Irvington' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 17Apr57
1935 DOMINION HANDICAP
600 sovs: Unhoppled trotters: Two Miles
The Dominion Handicap served to show the public one of the most brilliant trotters ever raced in New Zealand, Sea Gift, who, giving away 36 yards, fairly outclassed her field over the concluding stages.
Lough Guy set out to win from end to end, and he did his task well for the greater part of the journey just ahead of First Wrack, Admiral Bingen, Stanley T and Raima, while Todd Lonzia, beginning very fast, was soon in a handy position, and Writer and Nell Volo were nicely placed.
At the straight entrance Lough Guy held the lead from Stanley T, First Wrack, and Raima, while wide on the course Sea Gift was putting in brilliant work. At the distance Stanley T, appeared a certain winner, but Sea Gift finished in most determined fashion and fairly buried the opposition for speed over the later stages, while the tiring Lough Guy was third, Raima fourth, and First Wrack fifth.
Sea Gift has come through her various classes in the manner of a champion, and it is doubtful whether any other trotter in New Zealand would match her over any distance. This was one of the best performances ever registered at Addington, and stamped Sea Gift as a genuine stayer and a brilliant sprinter.
Stanley T, evidently suited by the going went his best race for some time and he was in the firing line right to the finish. Lough Guy tried to win all the way and he put up a really good display. Raima's effort may be described as solid without being brilliant. Nell Volo gave a display that suggested the lack of a race and she should do better as the meeting advances. Norma Bingen failed to stay on and Todd Lonzia again showed an ineptitude to handle the going.
Credit: THE PRESS 13 Nov 1935
BARGAIN PRICED HORSES
Large prizes are the headlights of progress. They are the rewards which await those who own the fastest and stoutest racehorses. They increase values, and place the acid stamp of merit on the names of winners which, in time, become the basis of comparison with those which preceeded and those which follow them.
No owner of racehorses has ever complained that the stakes are too large, but it is a common lament on the part of sale-ring frequenters that 'they could have had for such and such a bargain price' a horse that surmounted its humble origin to flourish into one of the best compaigners of its time. The sale-ring bargains are numerous. Many of them changed hands at prices that must have been a considerable loss to their breeders, and, in the right hands, numerous cast-offs have richly rewarded the speculators with a keen eye for a passable bit of horseflesh.
Buying horses is a gamble and always will be. There are more bad ones than good ones sold or practically given away. On the same day that 400gns was paid for a good-looking filly, which turned out to be a duffer, Nicoya, a gelding by Wrack, was knocked down for 4½gns.
Here we digress for a moment. The Wracks became one of the greatest breeds we have had in this country, but their early stocks were low indeed. In spite of Wrackler and First Wrack coming from Wrack's first season, shrewd judges got the idea that the bulk of the breed were 'wasters.' So strong did the prejudice become that some owners did not so much as bother trying their young horses by Wrack. One well-known breeder even resorted to the desperate expedient of going on a shooting expedition among a paddock full of Wracks! This unwarranted prejudice was no doubt the reason why three of the greatest trotters of the breed, or any breed for that matter, were picked up at auction by lucky ringsiders for a few pounds each.
I have in front of me as I write a sale catalogue of H Matson & Co dated Easter Monday, 1931, in which a bay yearling filly by Wrack from a Paul Huon mare was sold on behalf of Mr H F Nicoll for 6gns to D Neill. That filly was none other than Sea Gift, who late found her way to J Bryce's stable, eventually to end up in the ownership of Mr C M Archer. Trained by E J Smith, Sea Gift won thousands, became the champion 2-year-old trotter - her record of 4.21 2/5 still stands - and beat good pacers after outclassing herself among her own gait.
Lot 13 turned up trumps for Mr R H Butterick, who went to Tattersalls Horse Bazaar on Wednesday, August 14, 1935, and paid no heed to superstition or anything else by bidding 4gns for the aforsaid lot, a bay mare, seven years, by Wrack from a Nelson Bingen mare. This mare was about the most unprepossessing piece of horseflesh imaginable, and it took Allan Matson all his time to 'give her away.' The mare, intended for a humble farm animal, by mere chance was tried for speed and became Peggoty, who won seven races on end, had a foal, and returned from the brood mares paddock to win the Dominion Handicap.
In another catologue I find that Nicoya was sold by the same firm, and on behalf of the same vendor, for 4½gns. Nicoya was described by a well-known trainer at the sale as "a big, soft-legged, carty gelding who might be useful in the harrows." The great majority who saw him sold evidenly sudscribed to this opinion, because Nicoya was knocked down to a West Coast sportsman for 4½gns. When he eventually came into the ownership of Mr J Manera, and was handed over to L F Berkett to train, Nicoya became a star among our best handicap trotters and finished up by beating Huon Voyage in the Champion Handicap, one mile and a half. The 4½gns cast-off was one of the greatest trotters produced in this country. It is certain that the best of him was never seen.
A 'Tasmanian buyer' secured a veritable goldmine when a NZ agent bid 37½gns, on his behalf for Ayr, who was sold at Tattersalls on behalf of Mr H F Nicoll on March 24, 1932. The 'Tasmanian buyer' was Mr E Tatlow, who bred from her Springfield Globe, Our Globe, Ayress, Van Ayr, Ayr Derby, and three younger ones all by Raider, the last of which, a colt, arrived in 1943. In view of the great track performances of Springfield Globe and Our Globe, it is reasonable to assume that any foal from Ayr today must be worth a tidy sum.
Karangi was bought at one of Mr J R McKenzie's dispersal sales for £10; Roydon's Pride (dam of Certissimus and Desmond's Pride) went under the hammer at Tattersalls for 27½gns, and Slapfast (dam of Gold Flight) for 12gns.
When 'money is scarce and hard to get' you should search round and try to happen upon something like Garner. But you would require a lot of luck as well as an eye for a likely sort to pick up such a rare bargain as Garner turned out to be for the late E C McDermott. This daughter of Sonoma Harvester and Pat Dillon was bought by McDermott for 16gns. She was a born trotter who showed unusual ability when only 2-years-old. As a 3-year-old she was the best trotter of her age that season, winning a double at Cheviot. At 4 years she put up a remarkable performance by winning the three principal trotting events at the Auckland Cup Carnival. Later she beat most of the best trotters in commission at Addington and took the two-mile record of 4.28 2/5. In her track work Garner trotted a mile in 2.09, and the last half mile in 62 4/5.
Thelma Wrack, when carring the Sapling Stakes winner, Moana Tama was sold for £2/10/- and the mare and foal were later passed on to Mrs G Bills for £10. It is related that Thelma Wrack was a hard mare to handle and that she could never be raced. At one time, I am informed, she was ordered to be shot, but she eluded all attempts to catch her. The frustration of those who had designs on her life is one of the fads of Fate, not new by any means.
Madam Templeton, in foal to Jingle, was knocked down at Tattersalls for £3/10/-. A colt foal duly appeared, to be named Rollo. He was raced for a time by Mr D R Revell, who sold him to Mr H M Allen, for whom he won thousands.
Mr E F C Hinds bought the then crippled Harold Logan for 100gns and won more than £11,000 with him. At Mr H W Aker's dispersal sale he had Tactless knocked down to him at 60gns, and developed him into a tidy stake- winner. Llewellyn's Pet, whom he secured for 14gns won several races.
Quality, one of the best staying mares of her time, was sold in 1927 on account of Mr A Bright, Ashburton, to Mr J O'Grady (her breeder and original owner, by the way), for 45gns. Quality won a considerable sum in stakes and qualified for the NZ Cup. She was one of the best investments that C S Donald ever had in his stable.
Billy Sea, when his sun was setting, as most people thought, was sold by Mr J A Mitchell, of Palmerston North, in 1927, to L Stobart, of New Brighton for 38gns. Stobart won the big race at New Brighton the following year with his purchase, and paid a huge dividend. Then N C Price trained Billy Sea to win a saddle race at Addington. Returned to Stobart, Billy Sea started in the Ashburton Cup, which he won at another large dividend. He was a hard wearing veteran, and it was remarkable the number of times his ability was under-estimated.
Kean John, sold by Mr M O'Brien to Messrs Barton and Trengrove in 1932 for 100gns won £1337 for those owners, while The Rook, sold in 1922 by A Hendriksen to A E Messervey for 27gns afterwards collected close to £1000 in prize money. Albert Logan, who was sold for 62gns by Mr A P Tutton to J W Thomas in 1923, won nearly £600. Tumatukuru, bought by a patron of W J Tomkinson's stable for 35gns, showed a handsome profit, as did Whakaku who was sold by Mr M O'Brien to a Perth sportsman for 75gns in 1926, and won distinction in the West. Lady Barrister, a well-bred mare in foal to Guy Parrish was sold in 1928 by Mr E Cambridge to Mrs W Balloch, of Melbourne, for 70gns. Her foal was Guy Parrister, a good winner, and she was raced again after rearing the foal, with good results.
Glenrossie, who was sold by Mr R M Morten to Mr J McDonald, for 80gns, won his way to the best company, crediting the Wellington sportsman with several thousands in stakes, and at times returning good dividends when his form should have pointed otherwise. Logan Park, another winner of thousands, was purchased by Messrs Armstrong and Johnston for 125gns, and Cannonball proved a bargain at the 105gns paid for him as a young horse.
Carmel, winner of thousands, changed hands as a youngster at 14gns. Mountain Dell, another big stake-winner, was sold as a juvenile for £10, and Impromptu, a great pacer, was sold as a 3-year-old for £45. Moneyspider was another that was passed on very cheap, and last, but not least, Monte Carlo, winner of the first NZ Trotting Cup, who once changed hands for £25.
Credit: 'Ribbonwood' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 20Sep44