YEAR: 1956


J Walsh, who has been one of Southland's leading trainers for well over 30 years, gained his most important success in the straight-out trotting section when he brought Cabra home at the head of a strong field in the Dominion Trotting Handicap.

Cabra owed his success to his solidness and reliability - no trotter in the top class at the moment is as imperturbable as Cabra; no amount of bustle or breaking of other horses around him will put him off. He keeps steadfastly on the beam, and any lack of brilliance on his part is more than balanced by his pronounced stamina.

In the Dominion, Cabra was always one of the first three, and he took the lead with half a mile to go, only to be outsped racing round the top by Scotch Paree. Scotch Paree drew away from Cabra and entered the straight with such a handy lead that he was being hailed as the winner. He was in difficulties at the half-furlong, however, and Cabra, who had kept on keeping on all the while, headed him with about 100 yards to go.

Prestbury, who had broken up when in the lead at the end of three and a half furlongs, was travelling fast in second place only a head behind Cabra, and a length back third was Recruit. Recruit showed remarkable speed after two breaks - the first costing him at least 50 yards - and on the running he could be regarded as a "racecourse certainty" beaten. He trotted his last mile and a half in 3:10. Several of the field broke badly at different stages, including Centennial Star, Enfilade, Slipstream and Quick Silver.

Cabra is a triumph for Walsh in more ways than one. A few seasons ago he showed little ability when sent north to a Canterbury stable and was sent back to his owners Messrs P J Bourke and A A Matheson, of Southland. Walsh, whose patience is proverbial, has succeeded in making a star performer out of a gelding who once went in danger of being a cast-off. Cabra, an eight-year-old gelding, is one of the few Dillon Hall progeny who favours the trotting gait - another top-class square-gaiter by him was Swanee River, and Shirley Dillon promises well.

Credit: 'Ribbonwood' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar


YEAR: 1959


A good winner last season in Annual Report returned to the winning list in the Dominion Handicap at Addington on Friday with a solid performance.

The race was a fine one from any angle and the winner's time of 4:19 2-5 from 12 yards shows that there was little loitering on the journey. Annual Report is big, long-striding trotter, and he did not appear a possibility till the latter stages, but once trainer-driver A Purdon asked him to do his best he got over the ground in fine style to gradually reduce the gap to Moon Boy, who broke under pressure. Moon Boy was actually second to pass the post but he was later disqualified, Hazel Grattan being promoted to second, Supervise to third and Cabra to fourth.

Dan's Choice, Lenvin and Rodger lost ground at the start and Ordeal broke at the end of two furlongs. Silver Son was then sent clear and he lead at the end of half a mile from Serenelli, Highland Glen, Mighty Brigade, With You, Moon Boy, Hazel Grattan, Supervise, Annual Report and Cabra, with three lengths to Ordeal, Dan's Choice and Recruit. With nine furlongs left to run, Serenelli had worked to the lead, but Moon Boy had taken over at the seven furlongs.

Trotting in his best style, Moon Boy led Supervise by three lengths approaching the straight, and it was obvious at the stage that he was going to be difficult to beat. However, Annual Report loomed up and he was not to be denied. It was unfortunate for Moon Boy that he left his feet as he had trotted a fine race to that stage. The winner deserves full marks and his performance was that of a true stayer. Full credit must also be given to A Purdon for the manner in which he has brought Annual Report back to his best.

Supervise was handy all the way but she was feeling the strain at the home turn. Hazel Grattan raced right up to her earlier efforts this season, and Cabra battled on for fourth. At one stage it looked as though Recruit would take part at the finish, but he had had enough shortly after turning for home. The rest were a tired lot.

Credit: 'Irvington' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar


YEAR: 1971


The death in Gore last week of Jack Walsh, aged 77, had me digging into the archives for a few words I penned on this gentleman in 1967. I hope you enjoy the reminiscience.


Walsh, who trained the champion mare, Robin Dundee, in the twilight of his career, was the leading Southland driver and trainer on numerous occasions. He rode or drove close on 400 winners and as a trainer, won more than 300 races.

Walsh was born in Nightcaps and his first job was in a grocer's shop there. He was quite content with the job, but, he recalled, "the owner asked me to manage the place, so I left." It was also at Nightcaps in 1917 that Walsh had his first introduction to trotting. A Nightcaps butcher, Mr J H Reed, asked Walsh to ride a pacer called Gladiola, whom he owned and trained. Although he had ridden in gentlemen riders' at galloping meetings, Walsh told him that he had no idea how to sit on a pacing horse in harness and he thought he would be certain to come down.

Mr Reed had greater faith in Walsh, and asked him to ride Gladiola in saddle events at the 1917 Forbury Park winter meeting. Walsh applied to Christchurch for his horseman's licence, but this had not arrived on the morning of the meeting. A hurried phone call to Christchurch confirmed that the licence had been granted and Walsh took the mount on Gladiola. Gladiola was beaten a head by Nihilist, but came out to on the second day to win the two-mile Dunedin Handicap. A 3-year-old filly, she gave away starts of 60 yards and won by two lengths.

From then on Walsh never looked back. He returned to Gore in 1926 and worked with trotting trainer J R McMurray for 12 months. Then as private trainer to Mr F Wallis, he prepared such good winners as Sea Hawk, Ding Dong Bell, Nelson Elwyn and Red Anthony. Later as a public trainer Walsh trained such winners as Kissing Cup, Heather Dillon, Pacemaker, Gildirect, Meg Mundy, Aspasia, Lauder Lady, Dame Sybil, Mooloo, Navigate, Cabra who won the Dominion Handicap, and Ley's Pride.

Walsh's best training tally was 18 wins in the 1956-7 season when he also drove 16 winners. Walsh's services as a horseman, were in keen demand and between 1930 and 1940 he rode or drove 121 winners. Walsh maintained the best horse he rode in saddle was Rocks Ahead, who holds the track record of 2:09 2-5 set at Forbury Park in 1936. Walsh developed Robin Dundee into the best pacing mare in Australia and NZ in the 1960s when she took a record of 1:59 at Harold Park and won more than $100,000.

Credit: Taylor Strong writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 4Aug71

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