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FEATURE RACE COMMENT

 

YEAR: 1982

1982 DOMINION TROTTING HANDICAP

The strength of the open class trotters in the north was further demonstrated when Cal Brydon downed Thriller Dee in a memorable Dominion Handicap.

Following on from wins by Jenner and Thriller Dee on the first two days of the meeting, Cal Brydon took the Dominion Handicap back to a northern stable for the second year in a row. Owned by Gordon and Brian Newberry and trained by Gordon at Clevedon, Cal Brydon was clearly the best horse on the night and none of the beaten drivers could offer any excuses.

Cal Brydon lost a good position in midfield over the first round, but was out to track Stormy Morn from the 2000 metre mark and strode to the front, entering the straight with a lap left. "I was a little worried about being in front that early," said Gordon Newberry afterwards but it didn't matter. The six-year-old was trotting a treat and skipped clear turning for home. Sir Castleton and Triller Dee lodged determined challenges but never looked like pegging the winner back.

The event was a race of constantly changing fortunes. Sir Castleton, the south's only real hope of stemming the northern tide, was first out and led Jenner and About Now, while Thriller Dee and Stormy Morn were well back early. Charlie Hunter took Jenner off the rail to lead passing the winning post for the first time then Sir Castleton moved out to get cover as Stevie Prestige moved around to sit in the open. About Now wound up in the trail. As the field travelled down the back with 2000 metres to go, Stormy Morn made his bid four wide around McShane, but was being tracked by Cal Brydon.

With a round to go it was Cal Brydon from Stormy Morn, Jenner and McShane trailing and Brother James three wide, followed by Sir Castleton. Thriller Dee was four back on the outer at this point. Stormy Morn was being niggled at down the back and Sir Castleton was off four wide as they passed the 500 metre peg. As they turned for home, Jenner, Sir Castleton and Thriller Dee lodged their claims but they were all struggling and Cal Brydon went to the line half a length up on the fast closing Thriller Dee and Sir Castleton, who finished within a head of each other.

Thriller Dee, driven by her young part-owner John Dickie, went a fine race, considering she was checked by the breaking Kimrock with a round to go. About Now "fought on in typical style" according to driver Kevin Townley to finish fourth, three and a half lengths away. Jenner wilted to fifth and Commander Crockett, who ran on well from a bad position on the rails, was next. The rest were a tired lot, headed six lengths away by McShane.

Cal Bryon trotted his last 800 metres in little worse than even time on his way to recording a smart 4:14.6 for the 3200 metres, three seconds outside Scotch Tar's race and New Zealand record. Cal Brydon must now be considered the top trotter in the country with a record of 62 starts, 17 wins and 23 placings for $101,225, $26,275 of which was earned from five wins and five placings from 19 starts in Australia.

Credit: Frank Marrion writing in NZ Trotting Calendar

 

YEAR: 1984

1984 TAUBMANS DOMINION TROTTING HANDICAP

Six hundred metres after the start of the $60,000 Taubmans Dominion Trotting Handicap the race was as good as over. It was at that point that Basil Dean took control and the point at which the remaining 11 drivers appeared to settle for fighting out the minor placings.

At the finish of the 3200 metres Basil Dean was two and three-quarter lengths clear. His time for the distance, 4:12.9, was the second fastest recorded in the race - only Alias Armbro's 4:12.3 being faster but that being set on a fine sunny day. Cal Brydon, after being very late clearing a pocket, charged home to snatch second from a gallant Jenner in the shadows of the post, with Tussle close up fourth.

Basil Dean is owned by trainer Bob Jamison of Ashburton and Tim Newton. He has now won 22 of 54 starts and over $154,000 in stakes. Basil Dean opened up a warm favourite, eventually returning $1.60 for a win and even money for a place. After taking control, Kerry O'Reilly took hold of Basil Dean and set only a steady pace for the remainder of the first mile. After that O'Reilly quickened the tempo, sprinting sharply from the 1000 metres and giving those at the back little chance to make headway. The Great Evander gelding turned for home with a handy lead and O'Reilly didn't even have to flick the whip at the eight-year-old as he coasted over his last 800 metres in 59.4 and final 400 in 30.

The race was certainly not an exciting spectacle. The only real race was that for the minor placings. Cal Brydon, back four places on the inside for much of the way, managed to clear a pocket inside the 200 metres and Peter Wolfenden sent him out after the leaders. He came quickly, taking second from Jenner, but had no chance of overhauling Basil Dean. Jenner's run was eye catching. Driver Jack Carmichael was left parked on the outside when Basil Bean assumed control. He eased Jenner back to sit on the outside of the third line for the first 2200 metres of the race. He gradually moved Jenner up going down the back for the last time and the horse fought on exceptionally well for third. "A good run," said Carmichael after. "He was doing his best without the whip. It was a good run after being left in the open."

Second favourite Sir Castleton was sixth. He bounded away from the start and added 30 metres to his ten metre handicap before Doody Townley could settle him into a trot. After catching the field with half the race completed, Townley got on to the back of Adiantum going down the back, but this proved more of a hinderence than a help. Brought wide turning for home, it was clear that he had no chance of returning a dividend, but the Game Pride eight-year-old finished on resolutely to deadheat with a tiring Game Command for sixth place.

The only real disappointment in the race was Noble Advice. A proven stayer, the gelding was backed into fifth favouritism but only battled into eigth place after enjoying a trouble free run.

Credit: Brian Carson writing in NZ Trotting Calendar



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