YEAR: 1961

Invicta & Steve Edge returning to scale

Invicta, the veteran of the field, came through on the inside from fourth place at the home turn and hung on in determined style to hold off the strong finishing Patchwork in the 1961 NZ Trotting Cup at Addington. His official wining margin over Patchwork was a neck, and two lengths further back came Scottish Command who beat Lookaway by a head. Lady Belmer was fifth.

From the limit Invicta clocked 4:14.4 for the two mile journey after receiving a good run all the way. He was driven a most patient race by trainer S D Edge, who was never bustled at any stage of the race and reserved his run until the right moment. The race was a good one and few excuses could be offered for those who finished behind Invicta. The win favourite Sun Chief had every chance but he was a beaten horse soon after reaching the front early in the run home.

At the start Lady Belmer, Panui, Scottish Command and Diamond Hanover were slow and the early order was Queen Ngaio, Highland Heath, Robert Dillon, Zany, Fourth Edition, Patchwork, Invicta, Sun Chief, Damian, Fitment, Guiseppe, Scottish Command, Diamond Hanover, Lookaway and Lady Belmer. After covering half a mile Zany took over the role of pacemaker and was showing the way to Fourth Edition, Queen Ngaio, Highland Heath, Invicta (down on the rails), Robert Dillon, Patchwork, Sun Chief, Damian, Fitment, Guiseppe, Lady Belmer, Scottish Command, Diamond Hanover, Lookaway and Panui, with the field in fairly close order, mostly running in pairs.

Excitement quickened when Sun Chief moved up to be one place behind Zany on the outside of Fourth Edition. With a mile to run Zany still had charge and the order was much the same, and with a round to go Diamond Hanover made a forward move but was three wide, and Sun Chief was one out without a trail alongside Fourth Edition. Lookaway was also starting to improve from the back. Zany and Sun Chief turned for home almost together with Diamond Hanover next and Invicta on the rails. Lookaway was coming into the picture wide out and Patchwork, Fitment and Scottish Command were also handy. Sun Chief appeared to be pulling hard approaching the home turn and it looked as though driver M Holmes only had to let him go to race right away from the rest.

Sun Chief headed Zany, but was done almost immediately and Invicta shot through to gain an advantage a furlong out. Patchwork lived right up to the form she had shown in recent weeks and her effort to get within a neck of Invicta was a good one. Scottish Command was one of the tail-enders for a good part of the way and there was a good deal of merit in his placing. Lookaway's performance shows he has lost very little of his brilliance, and Lady Belmer made up a big stretch of ground. Next to finish were Queen Ngaio, Sun Chief, Damian, Guiseppe, Highland Heath, Robert Dillon, Diamond Hanover, Fitment, Panui, Zany and Fourth Edition last.

Of those who finished behind Invicta, Patchwork, Scottish Command and Lookaway were the most impressive and Lady Belmer must be given credit for her fifth placing. Sun Chief looked as though he had done his fair share of work but lack of racing took its toll when it came to the run home. After a slow beginning Diamond Hanover covered some extra ground in the middle stages. Zany was responsible for most of the pace but had had enough at the home turn.

An 11 year-old bay gelding by Sandydale from Globe's Advice, Invicta is a member of the famous Thelma family, which also produced Wildwood Junior, the winner in 1909 and 1910, and Author Dillon, who won in 1918. Invicta is the oldest horse to win the Cup in recent years. He was making his third appearance in the race, having finished out of a place in the 1959 event and fourth last year.

Invicta is the first foal of Globe's Advice, and was bred by Mr L Duff, a steward of the Forbury Park Trotting Club. Mr Duff has raced Invicta throughout his career, which began under the guidance of C C Devine. Globe's Advice was got by Springfield Globe from Bingen's Advice, by Great Bingen (who finished a close second to his full brother, Peter Bingen in the sensational finish to the New Zealand Cup in 1928), from the grand race mare in Free Advice, by Blue Mountain King-Intaglio, by Logan Pointer-Cameos, by Galinlo-Thelma, by Kentucky.

Globe's Advice was bought by Devine from her breeder, Mr C M Archer, of Southbrook, for Mr Duff, who did not know at the time what he was getting. On the journey from Rangiora to Dunedin, Globe's Advice was dropped off at Oamaru to be mated with Sandydale, and Invicta was the result of the mating.

Invicta's present trainer-driver, Steve Edge, has had the horse since he was seven years old and has done particularly well with him, taking him right through to the top classes. Edge and Invicta had the satisfaction in the past of beating the mighty False Step twice - in the Ollivier Handicap at Addington last season and in the Timaru Centennial Cup in 1959, a race which was run under invitation conditions. Edge belongs to the younger brigade of trainers (he is 30 years old). He has only been training horses for six years but has enjoyed his fair share of success. Interviewed after the race, he said: "I got a good run all the way and Invicta had some in reserve when it came to the home run." Invicta is the defunct sire Sandydale's first Cup winner, but two other champion pacers he sired were Captain Sandy and General Sandy.

The race was run at a solid pace from the start. The first half-mile took 64secs, the six furlongs 1:37, the first mile 2:10, the mile and a quarter 2:42.4, mile and a half 3:14.4, the last half in 60secs and the last quarter 29.4secs. Investments on the race were: On-course 21,328; Off-course 28,234 10s. Last year's on-course total was 21,673.10s, and the off-course total 25,977.

The day's racing was held under almost perfect conditions on a fast track, but due no doubt to the curtailment of complimentary tickets, the attendance was down on last year. This year's figures were 18,000, compared with 19,600 last year. On-course the totalisator handled 185,496 5s (including 21,571 5s on the double), compared with 189,199 15s last year. Off-course investors wagered 198,872 (including 98,020 on the double), compared with 182,914 5s last year. The combined on and off-course total was 384,368 5s, compared with 372,114 last year, an increase of 12,254 5s.

Credit: 'Irvington' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 8Nov61


YEAR: 1960

Jim Smyth receives the presentation from Barbara Davidson

False Step, leaving the barrier with machine-like precision, had cut his handicap to ribbons within half a mile, and in a tense final dual with Sun Chief he gained the ascendency in the last 50 yards and won his third New Zealand Cup in a row with bulldog courage.

False Step was still at least two lengths behind Sun Chief with a furlong to go, and when False Step was inclined to hang in it momentarily looked like Sun Chief's day, but sheer grit and superlative staying power saw False Step gradually reduce the gap and draw alongside Sun Chief, with the last 50 yards all False Step's - his official margin was half a length; his last mile was run in a torrid 1:59 1-5, last half mile in 57 4-5secs. - a phenomenal effort - and his concluding quarter in 29 4-5. His full time, 4:09, has only once been bettered in the world, by Johnny Globe in his record-breaking 4:07 3-5 in the 1954 New Zealand Cup.

"The greatest horse in the world," declared a veteran sportsman who has seen all the Cup winners and legions of others before the Cup was established. Perhaps the finest stayer, anyway.

The race was the best seen for years, and one of the cleanest. There were no incidents during the running apart from the bobble put in by Lookaway fairly early, and no excuses could be made for those who finished behind False Step.

Sun Chief lived right up to the high opinion held of him, paced a grand race, and was far from disgraced in going under to a pacer of the calibre of False Step. His driver, D Townley, who had him well placed all the way, said after the race, "I thought I had my first New Zealand Cup won half way up the straight, but the other horse was too good." Sun Chief just failed, in a game attempt, to do what Lookaway did, win the Cup at four years. Sun Chief's share of the stake, 1350, brings his total earnings in New Zealand to 8915. He has also won something over 3000 in Australia, a grand effort for one of his age. In his year, Lookaway won 10,285 in the Dominion. Lookaway, who bobbled during the journey, finished five lengths behind Sun Chief, beating Invicta by three quarters of a length. Lookaway stripped in good order and although well beaten by False Step and Sun Chief, paced a creditable race, his first at a totalisator meeting this season. He was given every assistance by driver M Holmes.

Robert Dillon broke at the start, taking no serious part in the contest, and Lady Belmer was very slow. Lady Shona, Invicta, Blue Emperor and Fourth Edition were the most prominent early, and Con Scott, Sun Chief, Responsive, Auditor, Scottish Command, Lookaway, False Step and Thunder were next. At the mile and a quarter, Con Scott lead Invicta, Fourth Edition, Lady Shona, Sun Chief, Blue Emperor, Scottish Command, Auditor, Responsive, Lookaway, False Step, Thunder and Lady Belmer. With a round to go False Step made a forward move but was forced wide at the showgrounds bend. Going down the back straight False Step was following Sun Chief and when the last named hit the front shortly after turning for home, False Step was followed by Lookaway and Invicta. When pulled out to challenge it momentarily appeared as though False Step would not get Sun Chief, but his undoubted stamina combined with his perfect condition carried the day. After Invicta came Auditor and Fourth Edition with the rest beaten off. Invicta paced a sound race for fourth after being close up all the way. He turned for home in front but could not match the finishing runs of the first three. He was produced in first class order by trainer-driver S D Edge, and raced right up to his earlier form this season. Auditor's effort for fifth points to his being seen in a winning light before very long.

False Step, who with his bracketed mate, Thunder, was sent out favourite on both machines, received a wonderful reception on return to the birdcage. False Step paced the first half mile in 61secs, mile in 2:08 2-5, mile and a quarter in 2:39 3-5, mile and a half in 3:09 4-5, and full journey from post to post in 4:07 3-5. His success on Tuesday brought his record to 20 wins and 29 placings for 31,860 in stakes, including approximately 1000 won in Australia. False Step's win gave C C Devine his fifth training and driving success in the race. Only one trainer has turned out more winners, the late James Bryce, whose score was six, and Devine is still a mere lad as trainers go. False Step's next big mission will be the Inter-Dominion Championships at Addington, possibly followed by a visit to Yonkers Raceway in the United States later

False Step was bred by his owner, Mr J Smyth, is an eight-year-old horse by the Light Brigade horse Fallacy, a New Zealand Derby winner, from Dainty Direct, by Dan Direct-Queen Betty, by Four Chimes-Dot Robbins, by Frank Robins. As in previous years, False Step's Cup preparation was timed with his trainer's usual finesse, and on the day it is doubtful if False Step has ever looked better.

Interest had been mounting weeks before the event and tension was running high as the horses were called into line by the starter. One of the biggest crowds, 20,000, seen at Addington for years filled the lawns and stands on Tuesday to see False Step do what Indianapolis did - win his third New Zealand Cup. On-course investments on the race were up on those of last year as also were the off-course figures. This year the on-course total was 21,673 10s as against 20,925 last year. Off-course, 25,977 was wagered, compared with 24,670 10s last year.

On-course totalisator figures at Addington on Tuesday reached 189,199 5s as against 160,348 10s on Cup day last year, an increase of 28,771. Off-course figures also showed a substantial rise, investors wagering 182,914 compared with 139,038 10s last year.

Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 9Nov60


YEAR: 1961


As a student with duties I missed the 1961 NZ Cup. My first question as I hopped on the Lincoln bus home was, "Who won the Cup?" Bus drivers knew a lot about racing in those days. I was told, with disbelief on both sided, that it had bee Invicta. Invicta? How did that happen?

Happen it had. Given the run of the race by Steve Edge one of the younger trainers to have won a Cup, the old horse, an eleven-year-old, held out the unlucky Patchwork in a desperate finish. Nothing approaching that age has won the Cup since. As became known, Edge had employed staff especially to walk Invicta up to five hours a day on the roads through the winter of that year but could still give him only two lead up starts, unplaced runs in the Flying Stakes and the Hannon Memorial. So it was no surprise he paid 19 pounds to win. In spite of his chronically bad legs, Invicta managed to make the post in the 1962 Cup but the magic was long gone.

The irony was that but for a racing scandal Invicta may have been Cecil Devine's unprecedented fourth successive Cup winner. When Devine and Jack Litten were given six months over the 'whip incident'(suspensions were what they meant in those days) Devine dispersed several of his racing team. Invicta then going through the grades was won of them. Owner Les Duff gave the horse to his son-in-law Edge who was then training a small team at Rakaia. Edge also later trained a star in Light Lord from the same family as Invicta for the Duff family.

Ironically Percy Watson whose Purple Patch breed was then one of the most famous in the country, gave Lady Belmer to Devine to prepare for the Cup but she broke early and ran exceptionally well for sixth. Two years earlier her driver Maurice Holmes had been tipped from the cart in the race. Watson's other runner in 1961 was Patchwork. One man's luck in racing is inevitably another man's poison.

Credit: David McCarthy writing in Harnessed Feb 2016

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