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FEATURE RACE COMMENT

 

YEAR: 1944

Trainer Roy Berry, Owner W J Suttie and Driver George Noble
1944 NEW ZEALAND TROTTING CUP

"Black Sheep" of the last trotting Cup field, and looked upon until he joined R B Berry's stable as a pacer who had missed his mission in life, Bronze Eagle showed his real worth on Saturday by as game a performance as any ever put up by a Cup winner. Trained to the minute by R B Berry, and driven with consumate judgement by G B Noble, Bronze Eagle proved that years and years of near misses and frustrated endeavour had not left him with any inferiority complex.

It takes the great to make history; it takes a horse like Bronze Eagle to bury a mediocre past, toss precedents to the wind, and shine forth as one of the greatest stayers of his time. Here was the horse that went dangerously close to being eliminated from the last Cup. This was the 'ghouri' that broke in that race, caused interference, and led the committee to sigh and express a heartfelt wish that they had included Bronze Eagle among those eliminated. And here also is the horse that has sent one of the writer's long-cherished precedents for a six right out of the paddock! We have been telling you for years that horses that fail signally in the Cup do not win in later attempts. Well, Bronze Eagle has put 'paid' to that pet theory with a vengeance; we promise you it will not rear its ugly head again.

We can only admire Bronze Eagle's delayed-action triumph. His redemption, which began when he won the principal event at a Patriotic Meeting in July, came late, but now that it has come, we are glad to concede this handsome chestnut stallion his rightful place among the champions of his decade; to acknowledge that, after all, he was no Sunday horse when he worked well enough in training years ago to win any race in the land. He was merely hiding his light under a bushel, and waiting for the day when a combination par excellence, such as the Bronze Eagle-Berry-Noble trinity, should eventually come to pass.

Bronze Eagle's share of the Cup stake is 3250, and in addition, his owner, Mr W J Suttie, receives the handsome gold cup valued at 100. Bronze Eagle's total winnings now exceed 8000. He was bred by Mrs M A Tasker, Christchurch, and is an eight-year-old chestnut stallion by Wrack 2:02, from Lady Bridget, by Guy Parrish (imp) from Bridget Galindo, a full sister to Michael Galindo, one of the best trotters of his day and winner of the Dominion Handicap. Bridget Galindo was by Galindo (imp) from Mavoureen, by Prince Imperial from Moino, by General Tracey. This is a stout pedigree, and should give Bronze Eagle a stud value later on. Wrack was the leading sire of the Dominion for three seasons and is still prominent on the list. Wrack has now sired the winners of five NZ Cups, namely Wrackler (1930), Indianapolis(1934-35-36) and Bronze Eagle. Guy Parrish sired some good winners and trotters, notably Wild Guy (National Cup), Great Parrish (Auckland Cup) and Biddy Parrish, 2:08 trotter. He was a full-brother to Arion Guy, 1:59, sire of the dam of Certissimus. Galindo sired some good horses of both gaits. Prince Imperial was one of the most potent breeding forces of his time, and his blood is prominent in the pedigrees of Haughty, Gold Bar and other great ones. General Tracey, by Berlin (imp) from Jeanie Tracey (imp) was one of the best-bred horses of the early days.

Phenomenal is the only way to describe Integrity's effort to run second after losing, at a conservative estimate, 84 yards at the start. He did not settle down until Haughty, the backmarker, was well clear of him, and he could actually be counted out with half a mile covered. He certainly made up most of his lost ground by the time the last quarter was entered upon, but with Haughty now in the lead, and Pacing Power, Bronze Eagle and Countless among the others also in front of him, few were prepared for his spectacular dash down the outside of the track which took him momentarily to the front. He had disposed of Haughty, Pacing Power and Countless, and for a split second he looked like the winner, but then Bronze Eagle flashed through on the inside, where the going was not so good, and he outstayed Integrity by a length and a half.

Bronze Eagle has found a warm spot in the hearts of horselovers who know all about his struggle to reach the top, and enthusiasm knew no bounds when the horses were returned to the birdcage. Thousands literally broke the barriers and crowded onto the track to give Bronze Eagle and George Noble a memorable reception. Again, when Mr A L Matson, president of the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club, and Mr Forde, Deputy-Prime Minister of Australia, spoke to the presentation of the Cup, the crowd showed approval in whole-hearted fashion.

It was a magnificent race, a popular victory, and the largest crowd ever to attend Addington watched it with bated breath. The totalisator investments on the race, 31,758, are a record, and the 154,064/10/- put through the totalisator for the day is a record for the South Island.

It was another red-letter day in a chain of red-letter days that bedeck the history of the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club.

Full Result

1st: W J Suttie's BRONZE EAGLE. Trained by R B Berry, Yaldhurst and driven by G B Noble, started off 24yds.

2nd: V Leeming's INTEGRITY. Driven by D C Watts, started off scratch.

3rd: G Lancaster's PACING POWER. Driven by R B Berry, started off 36yds. Bracketed with the winner.

4th: F McKendry's COUNTLESS. Driven by G McKendry, started off 24yds.

The winner won by a length and a half, with three lengths to third and a further four lengths to fourth.

Times: 4:24 4-5, 4:30 1-5, 4:28 2-5, 4:30 2-5.

Also started: Clockwork scr, Hardy Oak 12 and Haughty 60 bracketed; Parshall scr; Shadow Maid scr; Burt Scott 12; Gold Bar 12; Horsepower 12; Indian Clipper 12; Loyal Friend 12.

Credit: 'Ribbonwood' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar

 

YEAR: 1945

1945 NEW ZEALAND TROTTING CUP

Nothing looks quite so pathetic as to-day's Form at a Glance the night following the races: unless it is last week's Cup story. As a rule, caution and sporting writers are first cousins. A sort of animal cunning comes to the aid of most people who follow horses with a pair of binoculars and a pencil, but for once in a while it deserted the press gallery at Addington on Saturday.

Free Holmes, sage of the light-harness world, once delivered a homily from a sulky seat to the effect that "it is time enough to count any horse out of any race when it is dead." Free was dead right. Just how many times he has been right since he became trotting's philosopher No.1 we have lost count of. How the old general must have chuckled to himself when Gold Bar's Cup victory on Saturday came home as a crushing rebuke to all scribes and form experts(?) who rushed into print with such high-sounding phrases as "his stamina must be on the wane," "he is not likely at this late stage of his career to finish any closer than fourth," "his function is not to win Cups but to carry the field along at break neck speed"; and so on.

Free, by the way, is "next of kin," to the owner, the trainer, the driver and the winner of this year's Cup. He is, as everyone knows, Allan Holmes's father; and Gold Bar's sire, grandsire and great-grandsire were all imported from America by Free. Gold Bar is by Grattan Loyal, who came from Ontario, Canada, in 1930. Gold Bar's dam Imperial Gold, is by Rey de Oro, who left Los Angeles, USA, for this country in 1922; and Imperial Gold's dam was Imperial Pointer, who came from California to the Dominion in 1915.

What a trotting saga! Nat Gould would have revelled in it. But Nat Gould is dead, so you will just have to put up with the vapourings of the scribe who told you in all seriousness last week that Gold Bar had about as much chance of winning the Cup as Hirohito has of becoming President of the United States. The influence of Free Holmes's importations on the Cup field did not end with Gold Bar, because Integrity, the second horse, is by Trevor de Oro (by Rey de Oro-Logan Maid, by Logan Pointer) and Integrity's dam, Cheetah, is by Grattan Loyal. Furthermore, the fourth horse, Countless, is out of Purple Patch, by Rey de Oro.

The unrestrained enthusiasm that greeted Gold Bar and Allan Holmes when they returned to the birdcage was a richly earned tribute to a horse and a driver who have been leading actors in the principal events of the Dominion for five years or more. Most people will agree that Gold Bar has 'made' the Cup race ever since he joined the select circle. It would be difficult to name his parallel in light-harness history. Vesuvius is the nearest approach to him most can remember; horses that stand out as individualists, pacemakers whose acceleration to top speed from barrier rise led to the survival of only the fittest in each and every race they made, or disorganised, whichever you will.

It was in an atmosphere charged with enthusiasm, and pervaded with a glamour Addington has never known before, that the official party, led by the president, Mr C S Thomas, foregathered in the birdcage after the race for the presentation to A Holmes of the Gold Cup. Thousands of wildly-excited people literally broke all barriers and crowded round the enclosure. Mr Thomas paid a richly earned tribute to Holmes and Gold Bar for the part they played in the Cup race for the last five years. He referred to Saturday's race as "probably the greatest light-harness contest ever staged in the Dominion" and to Gold Bar and Holmes as a champion combination that had consistently provided thrills for the trotting public. Mrs Thomas decorated Gold Bar with a garland of flowers and deafening cheers attended the ceremony.

Gold Bar, who is nine years old, has now won 21 races and 12,078/10/- in stakes and trophies, which places him second to Great Bingen as a money-winner. Of Great Bingen's total of 14,120, 13,320 was earned in the Dominion, and 800 in Australia. If Gold Bar should win Friday's Free-For-All he will have topped Great Bingen's Dominion total, and he now looks likely to become the biggest light-harness stake-winner of the Dominion and Australia. A bloodstock agent made an offer of 5000 for Gold Bar towards the close of last season. The offer came ostensibly with a view to Gold Bar's stud value, but, as Holmes remarked at the time, Gold Bar, apart altogether from his racing career, was worth "a thousand a year at the stud." The thousand a year is now safe as long as Gold Bar lives, and since the offer was made he has earned an additional 5525 in stakes. So it would have been a bad sale, after all.

Gold Bar, after fighting off his only serious challenger, Integrity, won the 1945 NZ Cup by three lengths from Integrity, with Shadow Maid ten lengths away third and Countless a poor fourth. At the start Integrity broke and lost about 30yds, and Indian Clipper would not settle down, being soon out of the contest. Gold Bar went to the front practically from barrier rise and at the end of half a mile had opened up a break of ten lengths on Double Peter, who was followed by Dusky Sound, Shadow Maid and War Guard. Gold Bar increased his lead to 15 lengths with six furlongs covered, and reached the mile in 2:07 and the mile and a half in 3:10. There was still no sign of his weakening. Integrity went after Gold Bar with three furlongs to go, and he reduced the gap to five lengths by the time the home turn was reached, but from that stage Gold Bar fought on too well, and Integrity was not gaining on him at the finish. Happy Man, who led the attack on Gold Bar in the middle stages, tired and came back on Haughty three and a half furlongs from home. Haughty made several futile attempts to get through on the inside of Happy Man, but he eventually came over on her and she put a foot through his sulky wheel. This eliminated both horses just before they reached the quarter post. The mishap probably robbed the race of a good deal of interest, as Haughty appeared to be full of running at the time. Bronze Eagle and all the others had every chance. Bronze Eagle reached third place just after entering upon the final quarter, but he broke in the straight. The fifth horse was Dusky Sound, followed by War Guard, Loyal Friend, Double Peter and Bronze Eagle. The last mile occupied 2:09 1-5, and the last half-mile 1:06 1-5, indicating that Gold Bar's speed again became progressively slower.

Investments on the race were 34,955 and on the day 182,086/10/-

Full Result

1st: A Holmes's GOLD BAR. Trained and driven by the owner at Riccarton, started off scratch.

2nd: V Leeming's INTEGRITY. Driven by M Holmes, started off scratch.

3rd: G Chemar's SHADOW MAID. Driven by C C Devine, started off scratch.

4th: P A Watson's COUNTLESS. Driven by J McLennan Tnr, started off 24yds.

The winner won by three lengths, with 10 lengths to third and 10 lengths to fourth.

Times: 4:16 1-5, 4:16 3-5, 4:19 1-5, 4:19 3-5.

Also started: Double Peter scr, Dusky Sound scr, Happy Man scr, Indian Clipper scr, War Guard scr, Loyal Friend 12, Bronze Eagle 36, Haughty 48.



Credit: 'Ribbonwood' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 7Nov45

 

YEAR: 1946

Driver Doug Watts and Owner/Trainer Vic Leeming
1946 NEW ZEALAND TROTTING CUP

The contest for the NZ Trotting Cup, 1946, resembled a funeral march in B flat. It should have been a marathon. It wasn't. The bun rush that developed over the last half-mile, and the memorable photo-finish between Integrity and Josedale Grattan, came as poor compensation on top of the sit-down strike that was imminent for the first mile and a half. It just wasn't good enough for a stake of 7500. The basic constituent of harness racing is speed and stamina, but you will look in vain for either of these commodities in the sectional times for Saturday's race.

Without a doubt it was the worst stayers' Cup for years, because the void that occurred between Vesuvius
and Gold Bar yawns again. The king is indisposed - long live Gold Bar or his prototype. The Metropolitan Club was deserving of a better deal from the principal actors in what should be the Dominion's leading light-harness drama.

Integrity's victory was a gratuity for services rendered in past Trotting Cups - he was runner-up in 1944 and 1945. Possibly he would still of won no matter how the race had been run, but does a horse who has performed like a moderate between one Cup meeting and another really earn a cheque for 5000 at the conclusion of a dirge like Saturday's race turned out to be?

The power went off as soon as Double Peter took charge. The Gold Bar kilowatts were imprisoned in there generator up at Yaldhurst. So lethargic did Double Peter become with a mile covered that he nearly deposited himself in the lap of his trainer, R Young. Turtles would have looked like cheetahs alongside him. In Indian file, two abreast, they sauntered the third half-mile in 66secs after taking 2:14 for the first mile, speed that would not embarass any Timaru Nursery Stakes candidate worthy of consideration.

It is beyond comprehension why trainers prepare their horses to stay two miles in 4:16 or better and are then content to allow one horse to dictate the conditions of a race worth a fortune by looking on while a veteran slows up the field to an amble and reduces three-quarters of the race to a speed that a country cup winner could do in a hearse nowdays. The truth of the 1946 NZ Trotting Cup is that everything played right into the hands of a master craftsman in D C Watts. If he had had the race made to order he could not have wished for anything better. No one wanted to make the pace and no one did - ever.

The past of any NZ Trotting Cup winner should be great. A glance at the Index to Performers reveals that Integrity was unplaced in all of his eight starts prior to his Cup success, and it is difficult to reconcile his abject failure in the Hannon Memorial Handicap at Oamaru five days beforehand with his lightning half-mile thrust to wrest Cup honours from Josedale Grattan. But it must have been a case of strength through weakness because he was a raging favourite from the moment the machine opened. And once he left the mark Integrity had the dawdling two-miler type at his mercy. He is virtually a two-minute horse, though it is only about once a year he produces it.

Josedale Grattan, 300 times a father, and returning to racing afer 15 month's absence, put the younger generation of the field to complete shame. The pity of it was that he went to the post without the winding-up race that might have clinched victory for him. F J Smith's judgement in putting the 11-year-old stallion back into work because he summed up the Trotting Cup possibilities - with the sole exception of Emulous - as by no means of champion calibre, or past their best, was bourne out by the performances of the majority of Saturday's field. When Emulous went sore and did not have the opportunity of qualifying, Smith made no secret of the fact that he expected Josedale Grattan to win. How close he went to doing so, after faltering slightly about 100 yards from the finish, emphasises one of two things - either that Josedale Grattan is a super horse, or that our other Cup horses are mostly has beens. Lets grow old together!

The newest horses in the Cup field, Volo Senwod and Knave of Diamonds, were eliminated in the run home. Knave of Diamonds was literally climbing over everything with less than a quarter to go and eventually succeeded in doing so; he lost his driver near the furlong post. Even old Burt Scott, with many facets to angular shadow, was full of running with nowhere to go in the final furlong, and Countless also appeared to be looking in vain for an opening in the concluding stages.

Integrity is a breeding freak. He is a beautiful chestnut of porcelain quality and refinement, yet his pedigree is the most lowly of any Cup horses racing today. His sire, Trevor de Oro, was a ponified pacer of moderate performances, and his dam, Cheetah, was an unraced mare by Grattan Loyal, a line that, apart from Integrity, has produced nothing in the nature of a champion.

Now eight, Integrity was bred by A and R Gardiner, of Lower Hutt, and was purchased by his owner-trainer, V Leeming, as a yearling. Integrity has won 14,507 in stakes and trophies to date, and becomes the biggest light-harness stake-winner in New Zealand and Australia. The previous record stood to the credit of Great Bingen, who won 14,120, of which 13,320 was earned in the Dominion and the remainder in Perth.


Credit: 'Ribbonwood' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 6Nov46

 

YEAR: 1960

MR V LEEMING

The well-known Prebbleton trainer, V Leeming, died suddenly at his home last week.

Mr Leeming first came into prominence just before the beginning of World War II when he trained horses for Mr J Richardson, of Dunedin. Three of the best he trained for Mr Richardson were Colonel Grattan, Toorak and Belmont Hall, the latter now being a successful sire in South Australia. Colonel Grattan reached NZ Cup class and among other races, Toorak won the NZ Champion Stakes in 1936.

Integrity, who Mr Leeming raced, was his most successful winner. Integrity won over all distances and after finishing second to Bronze Eagle in the 1944 NZ Cup, and to Gold Bar the next year, he beat Josedale Grattan and Haughty in the 7500 race in 1946.

Unite, whom he bred himself, graduated to NZ Cup class with an Auckland Cup among his many successes. Esteem and Admit were two other useful winners for Mr Leeming. Among the other horses he trained were Lady Nairne, Aden and Notify.

Mr Leeming, who had a model training establishment at Prebbleton, also farmed extensively on the property. His horses were always turned out in first class order as was the gear they wore and the sulkies they raced in. He was most meticulous in this direction.

Mr Leeming was a prominent official of the Canterbury Trotting Owners and Breeders' Association for a number of years.



Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 5Oct60



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