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In the early 'eighties, coursing was a very popular sport in Canterbury, and for some time it flourished at the old Plumpton grounds, situated near Hornby. Subsequently, race meetings were held on the same property, but they never took on with the public. This led to a change of venue to Sockburn, where a body known as the Plumpton Park Racing and Trotting Club carried on for some years, with varying success. After some years the racing element dropped out, and then was formed the Plumpton Park Trotting Club, now known as the Canterbury Park Trotting Club.
Though its history is only a short one, no body in the Dominion did more to bring light-harness racing up to its present high standard than the Canterbury Trotting Club. In the year of its inception, 1888, meetings were held at Lancaster Park, Lower Heathcote, New Brighton and Plumpton Park. At that period totalisator permits could be had almost for the asking, and, indeed, there were more meetings then than there are at the present time. All these convincing-grounds, with the exception of Lancaster Park, were some distance from the city and not easy to access. Present-day racegoers who complain of the tedious transport to meetings do not know how well provided for they are. In the 'eighties the only public vehicles plying to the New Brighton course, for example, were drags, buses and carriers' carts most of which had seen better days. Packed in like sardines, the good-natured sportsmen made light of their troubles, even though these frequently included a breakdown in the treacherous bit of road leading from the Bower Hotel to the trotting ground.
To bring the sport nearer home a number of enthusiasts got together early in 1888 and resolved to utilise the Addington Showgrounds as a racing headquarters. That area was particularly well adapted for the purpose, as a small grandstand was available, and little trouble was experienced in laying out a half-mile track. So the Canterbury Trotting Club came into existence, and held its inaugural meeting on April 9, 1888.
A glance through the names of its officials should be instructive to those who retain the old idea that trotting had little standing in those times. That genuine sportsman Mr W Boag figured as president, with Mr J Deans and Mr J C H Grigg as vice-presidents. Prominent among the stewards were such well known men as Hon J T Peacock, Messrs George King, H Chatteris, A W Money, J T Ford, S Garforth, J Fergusson, and W Henderson. Most of these gentlemen were keenly interested in the welfare of the Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association, which owned the grounds. At that first meeting Mr George King acted as judge, and Mr F W Delamain as starter, and the handicapping was entrusted to Messrs A I Rattray and H Piper. Seven event constituted the day's bill-of-fare, and stakes of from £20 to £35, the total reaching only £160. What a difference the intervening years have made in prize money.
An auspicious start was made, for in the very first event the two handicappers had the satisfaction of seeing a dead-heat between J Baxter's Dexter and G Burke's Jane. As was customary, the dead-heat was run off later in the afternoon and Dexter made no race of it. The Akaroa-owned stallion Victor, driven by his owner, J Rodriques, scored an easy win in the three-mile saddle trot, from Oliff's Bluegown and W and C Kerr's Gipsy. The corresponding harness event, also run over three miles, went to E Young's The Rogue, who was followed home by W and C Kerr's Wait-a-While. It is estimated that over a thousand people were present at the gathering. Messrs Hobb's and Goodwin's totalisator handled £1484.
Bad weather mitigated against the Club's second venture, held a few months later, and as a result only about 400 patrons turned out, and £889 was the totalisator 'main.' Within the first year of its existence the new club held four meetings, which did much to establish it in popular favour. Its progressive officials were soon enabled to increase the stakes considerably, and eventually races confined to stallions and juveniles were instituted. So mixed were the competitors that enormous starts were necessary to bring the fields together. On one occasion Mr D Barnes's Richmond won the Association Grounds Cup from the 115sec mark, and such flyers as Victor and Young Irvington frequently were asked to concede up to 30sec in mile events.
The introduction of races for stallions in the early 'eighties did much to popularise the club's winter meetings. These brought out such well-known stallions as Specification, Brooklyn, Viking, Imperious, Electioneer, Kentucky, Wilkin, Berlin Abdallah, General Tracey and Emerson. Some years later the executive made another progressive movement by instituting a race for 2-year-olds, known as the Juvenile Stakes, with £200 attached to it. This was the first effort made by any club to introduce early speed, but results showed that it was a little in advance of the times. The first two of these races was won by Mr J A Buckland, with Valiant and The Heir, but it was quite apparent that few Canterbury trainers had sufficient knowledge to get their juveniles ready for 2-year-old racing.
After being in existence for 12 years the career of the Canterbury Trotting Club was brought to a conclusion in dramatic circumstances. Just before the present century opened, Lancaster Park Amateur Trotting Club decided to purchase a course at Addington, next door to the Showgrounds, and reconstituted itself as the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club. When it was pointed out to the Minister of Internal Affairs that the two clubs intended to race with only an iron fence between them, he stepped in and insisted on an amalgamation. The wisdom of this action, though it was resented by many at the time, has since become most apparent. Several of the Canterbury Trotting Club's officials were elected to similar positions with the new body, and any resentment originally engendered soon wore off. That the amalgamation was fully justified is evidenced by the phenomenal success that has attended the efforts of the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club. Its present headquarters are easily the best appointed in the Southern Hemisphere, and on its track most of the Dominion's time records have been established. Some years ago the course had another change of ownership, as a result of a deal between the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club and the Canterbury Park Trotting Club. Both these clubs now race on it, and are likely to do so for many a year.
Undoubtedly the biggest lift ever given trotting was the elimination of proprietary interests. Many of those who had the management of courses in the early days were thorough sportsmen, whose chief aim was the betterment of the sport. Unfortunately, others were not quite as scrupulous, and this, to some extent, may account for the decline of such clubs as those that raced originally at Plumpton Park, New Brighton and Lower Heathcote. Under proprietary conditions, stakes seldom amounted to much over a century, while it was not uncommon to find horses racing for £25 stakes. Naturally, this did not make for the cleanest racing, and many owners depended more on what could be made out of the totalisator than on the stake money. This unsatisfactory state of affairs gradually disappeared as a result of judicious legislation by the NZ Trotting Conference and the NZ Trotting Association, two bodies that must be given every credit for bringing the conduct of trotting up to its present high standard. In club management there has been a corresponding improvement, which is reflected in the conduct of all present-day meetings. Nowhere in the world has trotting made such swift advancement as in NZ during the past quarter of a century.
Credit: F C Thomas writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 28Mar51
CANTERBURY TROTTING CLUB
In January 1888 the Canterbury Trotting Club was formed and conducted its Meetings at the new A & P Showgrounds at Addington.
Also in 1888 there was a move by the Lancaster Park Cricket Company for the Trotting Club to assume a separate identity from the Cricket Company.
Most Clubs racing at this time were proprietary Clubs with the operating profits going to the promoters.
CANTERBURY TROTTING CLUB
The first trotting meeting for the 1892-3 season was held by the Canterbury Trotting Club on August 12, when the weather was fine but cold.
A feature of the day's racing was the Sires' Cup Handicap, for stallions in harness. The stake was £30 and silver Cup valued £10, two miles. The race resulted in a win for Blue Gown, who was one of the outsiders and paid a dividend of £62 12s. He won by three lengths from Kentucky Wilkes, with the scratch horse, Kentucky, third. The time was 5.59. Kentucky was a hot favourite. The other starters were Wilkin, Berlin Abdallah, Duncan Abdallah, Vanderbilt, General Tracy, Emerson and Lincoln Yet.
It is interesting to note that Duncan Abdallah sired Wisconsin, the second dam of Harold Logan; Kentucky sired the famous broodmare Thelma, and Lincoln Yet sired the first NZ Cup winner, Monte Carlo.
On the same day there was a pony saddle trot, of two miles, for £20. There were only three starters. Parnell ridden by the late R Reay, won from Toby II, who had 30sec start, the only other starter was Busy Bee, with 35sec start. The investments were £8 on Parnell, £2 on Toby II, and nothing was invested on Busy Bee. The dividend was £1 2s.
Extract from Star Friday 12 Aug 1892
Handicapper, Mr H Piper; Starter Mr H J Derrett.
The Spring Meeting of the Canterbury Trotting Club is being held at the Show Grounds to-day. The weather is fine, but cold, and there is an exceptionally large attendance of spectators. The following are details of the racing up to the time of our going to press:-
MAIDEN STAKES HANDICAP TROT (in saddle) of 20 sovs. Two miles.
Mr J White's ns b m May Queen (late Dearest Annie) aged 36sec (Moorhouse) 1.
Mr J Gaskin's br g Charlie, aged, 28sec (Harrold) 2.
Mr A Stewart's b f Trissie, 3yrs, 18sec (Owner) 3.
Duncan Abdallah scr, Oakland 28sec, Hard Case 28sec, Dick 28sec, Messenger 28sec, Bonniveen 28sec, Bide-a-wee 30sec, Cyclops 30sec, Orizaba 32sec, Dinah 32sec, Little Maid 34sec also started.
May Queen led from start to finish, and though Charlie ran up to her, three hundred yards for home, May Queen going on, won by twenty yards. Time 6min 9sec. Dividend - £5 6s 6d.
TELEGRAPH STAKES HANDICAP TROT (in harness) of 25 sovs; second horse 5 sovs. One mile and a half.
Mr C Hendrickson's ch g Tommy, aged, 29sec (Hammill) 1.
Mr R Sutherland's b m Paulina, aged, 29sec (Needham) 2.
Mr M Friedlander's br m Miss Hilda, aged, 4sec (Harrold) 3.
Sandgate 15sec, Butterfly 24sec, Erin's Hope 30sec, Timbuc 34sec, Jess II 39sec, Dick 39sec, Stable BOy 39sec, Black Bell 39sec, Miss Graham 39sec, Remedy 39sec and Bell 50sec also started.
Dick took command in the first quarter of a mile, but was passed by Tommy and Paulina three-quarters of a mile from home, and Tommy holding his position to the end won by three lengths. Time 5min 5sec. Dividend - £33 5s 6d.
PONY HANDICAP TROT (in saddle) of 20 sovs. Two miles.
Mr B Ray's br g Parnell, aged, scr (Owner) 1.
Mr J Martin's rn g Toby II, 5yrs, 30sec (Owner) 2.
Busy Bee 35sec also started.
Toby II led till a quarter of a mile from home, when Parnell caught him, and going on, won by thirty yards. Time 6min 5sec. Dividend - £1 2s.
SIRES' CUP HANDICAP TROT (in harness) for cup value 10gns and 30 sovs added. For stallions only. Two miles.
Mr T Oliff's b h Blue Gown, by Remedy-Arab mare, aged 22sec (Owner) 1.
Mr R Sutherland's b h Kentuck Wilks, by Kentucky, 4yrs, 34sec (Needham) 2.
Messrs Sutherland and Jardin's b h Kentucky, by Berlin-Jenny Tracey, aged, scr (Farrar) 3.
Wilkin 8sec, Berlin Abdallah 14sec, Duncan Abdallah 24sec, Vanderbilt 24sec, General Tracy 30sec, Emerson 30sec and Lincoln Get 33sec also started.
Kentucky Wilks passed Lincoln Get in the first two hundred yards, and at the end of the second round was leading with General Tracy and Blue Gown following in order named, and Kentucky going up at a great pace. In the next round Blue Gown collared General Tracy and, catching Kentucky Wilks, at the entrance to the straight, went on and won by three lengths, with Kentucky two lengths further away third, and General Tracy fourth. Time - 5min 59sec. Dividend - £62 12s.
ADDINGTON PLATE HANDICAP TROT (in saddle) of 75 sovs; second horse 10 sovs. Two miles.
Mr P O'Donnell's ch g Spider, 6yrs, 36sec (Corrigan) 1.
Mr E Bowes' ch g Roy, aged, 24sec (C Kerr) 2.
Mr J Farrell's blk m Winchester, aged 40sec (E Price) 3.
Wilkin 4sec, Tikaro 8sec, Barney O'Hea 14sec, Little Charm 14sec, Pansy 19sec, Miss Cave 19sec, Black Rose 22sec, Diana 24sec, Parnell 30sec, Mecca 30sec, The Frog 36sec and Dakota 40sec also started.
Winchester led for a mile, when Spider passed her, and going on, won by thirty yards from Roy. Time 5min 41 1/2sec. Dividend - £29 1s 6d.
Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 26Aug42
The Lancaster Park Amateur Trotting Club having initiated the establishment of a new Trotting track at Addington conferred with the Canterbury Trotting Club as the two Clubs had had an understanding that they should purchase a site where they could pool their resources for the provision of an up-to-date track with amenities. The Canterbury Trotting Club, whose sub-committee had not been successful in their search for a joint property, revealed an astounding reversal of their previous policy when they declined to join the Lancaster Park Amateur Trotting Club in the establishment of the track on the Twigger estate, the main objection being that the land was not freehold. This decision posed a real problem for the Lancaster Park Club as it could not see its way clear to finance, from its own resources, the purchase of the lease and the development of the project.
The two Clubs had enjoyed an amicable relationship up to this time which is understandable as a number were members of both Clubs and the Executive Officers and the Raceday Officials acted for both Clubs. The aims of the Clubs were similar, as they were to provide good sport on an amateur basis and make provision for the future by setting aside funds for development. The Committee and Members of the Canterbury Trotting Club, which was the leading Trotting Club in the country at that time, were generally in favour of the retention of the Club’s identity and, to this end, pursued negotiations with the A & P Association on the further development of its course at the Showgrounds. The President of the Club, Mr T Marr, strongly favoured the status quo, and was negotiating a further seven years lease from the A & P contingent on a number of improvements being carried out.
At the Annual General Meeting of the Canterbury Trotting Club held on 20th June, 1899 compelling reasons were put forward for seeking a joint venture with Lancaster Park but a motion “That the Canterbury Trotting Club cast in its lot with the Lancaster Park Club in taking over the new grounds” was defeated. This decision prompted a sharp reaction from the Lancaster Park Club which called its committee together on 22nd June, 1899 and decided to take the following action:-
A) That plans be prepared for the provision of grandstands and other necessary buildings and improvements on the newly acquired site at Addington.
B) That a 5 furlong track be surveyed, laid out and tenders called for its construction.
C) That the name of the Club be altered to the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club.
The last clause gave the new Club its official date of birth and immediate steps were taken to carry out the development of the new grounds. In some quarters it was felt that the new name selected by the Club was somewhat pretentious but most Trotting fans agreed that a Club which was prepared to stake all its assets in a bid to provide first-class racing conditions and amenities for Trotters and Patrons was entitled to exercise some degree of freedom in the choice of name. The Executive of the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club lost no time expediting the establishment of their new grounds which were to be ready for their November Meeting. Tenders were called for the erection of the grandstand and the formation of the 5 furlong track which was to be a chain wide except at the bends where it was to be slightly less.
Considerable difficulty at this time was being experienced in bringing the amalgamation of the two Clubs to fruition. The Colonial Secretary decided to take a more prominent part in the dispute and during an address delivered to a meeting of delegates from all Trotting Clubs assembled in Wellington on 20th July, 1899, the Colonial Secretary hinted that amalgamation of the two leading Christchurch Clubs was one of urgency and if not proceeded with the Clubs would have to make do with fewer permits. This created panic among some of the Canterbury Trotting Club members who hastily requisitioned a Special General Meeting to reconsider the Club’s attitude towards amalgamation. This meeting held on 11th August was characterized by noisy and often bitter debate as the two factions within the Club argued the issue. Finally the Chairman, Mr T Marr, accepted a motion supporting amalgamation but when put to the Meeting was lost by a single vote, he having exercised both his deliberative and casting votes against the proposal.
A number of the members of the Canterbury Trotting Club were also members of the newly formed NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club so at the latter Club’s first Annual General Meeting held on 20th August, 1899 its President, Mr V Harris reported on the steps which had been taken to persuade the Canterbury Trotting Club to join forces in the development of Addington. In face of such non-co-operation and the shortage of time before the inaugural meeting he recommended the letting of contracts for the development of the grounds and track to the extent of £1,350 and the preparation of plans for a grandstand and other essential buildings.
In view of the pressure being applied, the Canterbury Trotting Club decided to send a deputation to Wellington in an attempt to persuade the Colonial Secretary to change his attitude regarding the amalgamation. However, the Honorable James Carroll advised the deputation he would arrange for letters to be sent to both Clubs setting out his views and advising that after the announced meetings of the separate Clubs had been held, that is, after the current year, it would be necessary for the two Clubs to amalgamate. Following the National Elections in early December 1899 the office of Colonial Secretary passed to the hands of the Honorable Joseph Ward who made his views known. After the Canterbury Trotting Club had concluded its advertised meeting on 26th December, 1899 and 1st January, 1900 he arranged for the publication of the official list of permits allocated to the Clubs for the balance of the 1899/1900 season. The outcome of this was that the Canterbury Trotting Club suffered a reduction in permits but in spite of the fact that its permits for the season had now already been used the Club applied for its usual two day meeting to be run on May 24th and 26th, 1900. The New Zealand Trotting Association had on file an application from the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club seeking approval to race on the same dates at its new grounds and giving as its reason that its rival Club’s permits had been exhausted. This latter application indicated that the “Met” proposed to forego the usual Easter dates which it conducted when it raced under its former name of the Lancaster Park Amateur Trotting Club.
The New Zealand Trotting Association having sought further information from the Colonial Secretary was left in no doubt that no further permit would be issued to the Canterbury Trotting Club unless a firm arrangement to amalgamate was published by the two Clubs concerned.
In an endeavour to settle the dispute amicably, the Association decided its President, Mr P Selig, should see the President of each Club with a view to establishing an acceptable basis for amalgamation. The only success he achieved was to extract a promise from each President that a special meeting of members of the respective Clubs would be called as soon as possible. These meetings were to be held on the same date, 25th April, 1900 and while the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club called a special meeting of its members the Canterbury Trotting Club merely summoned its Committee together and the decisions reached by the two Clubs were sent on to be dealt with at a special meeting of the Association two days later. The “Met” advised it was willing to amalgamate in accordance with the wishes of the Colonial Secretary and had appointed a sub-committee to meet a similar sub-committee from the Canterbury Trotting Club for the purpose of drafting amalgamation proposals. On the other hand, the Committee of the Canterbury Trotting Club forwarded a copy of its decision which stated “that as the whole question was of vital importance to the welfare of the Club the Committee did not see its way clear to act on the matter until the Annual General Meeting of the Club in June”. Under these circumstances the Association felt it had no choice but to refuse to sanction the programme submitted by the Canterbury Trotting Club and to approve that submitted by the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club to race on the disputed dates, the 24th and 26th May, 1900.
The opposition to amalgamation by the Canterbury Trotting Club continued and at its Annual Meeting in June a motion supporting amalgamation was defeated by 26 to 6.
It was also agreed to approve the re-negotiation of the lease from the A & P Association for a term of 7 years provided arrangements could be made to extend the track to 5 furlongs. Also approved were plans foe improvements and a programme for a two day meeting to be held in August as well as the appointment of a deputation to wait upon the next meeting of the Trotting Association to ascertain why its submitted programme for May, which fulfilled all requirements, had not been approved.
The deputation was not successful and in view of the opinion of the Colonial Secretary the Association provided a list of proposed dates for the next season showing Canterbury Trotting Club being allocated a single conditional permit, the conditional being that it must race on the Metropolitan Trotting Club’s course. This, however, was not possible during August as the grounds and track would be in a contractor’s hands for alterations and the completion of some building projects so the Trotting Association recommended to the Colonial Secretary that the Canterbury Trotting Club conduct its meeting, which would be the last, on the Showground Course. When this meeting held on 15th and 17th August, 1900 had been concluded, amalgamation appeared to be a probable reality. The two Clubs appointed sub-committees to consider amalgamation and it was agreed that the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club take in the whole of the membership of the Canterbury Trotting Club, and that the names of the present Committee and Stewards would be submitted to arbitration and that each Club would appoint an Arbitrator who in turn were empowered to appoint an umpire.
The Canterbury Trotting Club provided further complications for a successful amalgamation in that they approved the election of the 13 Committeemen as life members of the Canterbury Trotting Club and also appointed one of the Committeemen as Arbitrator. This was not acceptable to the Metropolitan Club and eventually the Canterbury Trotting Club appointed another Arbitrator as they were becoming aware of the attitude of the Press and the public to their continued opposition to amalgamation. They also rescinded their decision to appoint all their Committee as life members, only one, Mr H Mace, being appointed.
The final act of surrender by the Committee of the Canterbury Trotting Club was embodied in a motion authorizing payment of the accumulated funds of the Club to the Arbitrators when requested. Early in December, 1900 the Presidents of both Clubs received letters from the Arbitrators, Messrs P Selig and T H Davey, advising that the following Officers had been selected to act as Committeemen and Stewards of the amalgamated Club, for the balance of the season.
Committee: (ex NZMTC) Messrs E Clarkson, V Harris, C Louisson, G H McHaffie, G Payling and L Wilson
(ex CTC) Messrs W Hayward, T Marr and J S Slade
Stewards: (ex NZMTC) Messrs V Harris, C Louisson, G Payling and G B Ritchie
(ex CTC) Messrs J S Berry, W Hayward, H Mace, T Marr and J S Slade
Also appointed a Steward was Mr E C Jagger who was not associated with either Club
Of the aforenamed Officers of the Canterbury Trotting Club Mr J S Slade was its Vice President, Mr T Marr its Treasurer and Mr H Mace a Committeeman. Mr Mace was also an Officer of the New Brighton Trotting Club.
Credit: NZMTC: Historical Notes compiled by D C Parker
THE MILE RECORDS
This season the mile trotting record for NZ and Australia has been lowered to 2.02 4/5 by When; but the mile record for horses of both gaits has remained intact since Caduceus paced 1.57 3/5 against time at Addington in 1959. It does not apply with equal force today, but in early compilations of standardbred records for the two colonies, NZ and Australian pacers and trotters were thrown together from year to year.
In 1881-82, the late Mr Robert Wilkin, a wine and spirit merchant, established in Hereford Street, Christchurch, imported to his 'Holmwood' stables, Holmwood Road, Fendalton, two American stallions, Berlin and Vancleve. The latter he sent to Australia, to the stud of Andrew Towns, who then sold Vancleve to Mr John Arthur Buckland, a pioneer of the light-harness sport in Australia, and one whose activities had also an important bearing on the history of the sport in NZ. Berlin remained with Mr Wilkin to do stud duty, and one of the foals he produced Fraulein (from Woodburn Maid), was sold to Mr W Fraser Martin, of Sydney, who later passed her on to Mr Buckland.
Mr Buckland mated Vancleve with Fraulein for several successive seasons, but it was three years after their first mating that Vancleve, in an exhibition run at the Dubbo Show, in May, 1893, took a colonial mile record of 2.28, previously held by Mystery at 2.29½. Another Melbourne-owned trotter, Osterley, by the famous Childe Harold, after whom Harold Park was named, lowered Vancleve's record to 2.25 in 1895.
Two years after that, Fritz, the product of the first mating of Vancleve and Fraulein created a sensation on the Moonee Valley mile track by trotting 2.14 4/5 from a flying start.
In November of the same year (1897) at the Plumpton Park Club's meeting in Christchurch, Mr A Sefton's Blackwood Abdallah gelding, Little Willie, romped home in the one mile Final Handicap to record 2.26 1/5; and according to 'Honesty' in the 'NZ Referee', this was "the fastest mile in harness from a standing start that has yet been accomplished in NZ." The mile record was already regarded as the hallmark of standardbred speed, and trials against time at this distance were frequent and popular attractions in NZ and Australia.
Around the turn of the century, Mr Buckland's Fritz became the undisputed light-harness champion of Australasia. He trotted his way to success after success before being brought by his owner to NZ, in company of eight other first-class Australian horses in 1898. On that trip he established himself as a great favourite with the Canterbury public by beating Monte Carlo (who was later to win the first NZ Cup) in a free-for-all at the Canterbury Trotting Club's meeting, held on the old Show Grounds track. On June 2, 1898 Fritz made three attempts at the Riccarton racecourse to lower his 2.14 2/5. At his first attempt he trotted 2.18 2/5, and at his next two attempts he equalled 2.14 4/5. The track was reported to be very slow. Returning to Australia, Fritz lowered his record to 2.14 on the Brighton course, Sydney.
At that time, the Californian-bred Ha Ha (2.22¼ from a flying start) was the fastest horse in NZ and next to Fritz's his record was the next best south of the line. Next to Fritz and Ha Ha in NZ came the imported Wildwood, who had recorded 2.24 2/5 in a match race against Prince Imperial. In his prime, Wildwood was timed to trot a half-mile in 1.06 2/5 on Mr H Mace's track at New Brighton.
In the summer of 1898-99, Fritz again visited NZ, and it was on this trip that, for a purse of 100 sovereigns, he made an attempt to lower 2.15 against time. A totalisator was opened on the result, £35 being invested. Fritz was entrusted with £27 10s, and '2.15' with £7 10s. Without being really extended at any part of the journey, he trotted around the Show Grounds track in 2.13 - a new record. The dividend was microscopic!
Fritz made further trips to the Dominion, his last being in 1903, when he was brought from semi- retirement, in a typical sporting gesture by Mr Buckland, to meet the young Christchurch pacer, Ribbonwood, who had by this time become the idol of trotting followers in the Dominion. Advancing years and a very hurried preparation were mainly responsible for Fritz going under to the late Mr Dave Price's 'little black demon', but Ribbonwood proved that his victory in three straight heats was no fluke when, on the third day of that February meeting in 1903, held on the five-furlong Addington course, he recorded a new record of 2.09 for a mile against time from a flying start. Ribbonwood was by Wildwood from Dolly, by Young Irvington out of a thoroughbred mare. At the end of his great career in NZ he went to Australia and made history as a sire.
His mile record stood for eight years, until 1911, when it was reduced to 2.08 3/5, in a trial against time at Addington, by one of his sons, 7-year-old King Cole. The chestnut King Cole was the NZ champion of his day. He was raced by Mr R O Duncan and trained by the late Newton Price. His record-breaking mile run was watched by 300-odd votaries of light-harness racing, who gave him a great ovation. He was from Kola Nut, by Rothschild from Kola, by Harold Childe, a son of Childe Harold. King Cole was later sold to Australia, where he ended his race career.
A year earlier, in 1910, the Canterbury-bred Dan Patch, at that time owned by Victoria, on a visit to the Dominion, set an Australasian grass track record of 2.09 2/5 at Auckland. Also in 1910, Revenue, a son of Rothschild, and Mr J Manson's great-producing mare Georgina, trotted a mile in saddle in 2.11 4/5 on the Forbury Park track to displace Fritz as holder of the Australasian trotting record. In May, 1912, at Forbury Park, an Ashburton-bred Rothschld mare, Mr R McDonnell's 5-year-old, Emmeline, made an attempt at Forbury Park against Revenue's track record. She paced her mile in 2.08 3/5, and in doing so equalled King Cole's Australasian record. A month earlier at Addington, Emmeline had won a major event in the race record time of 2.10 4/5.
About that time, another fine mare was making a name for herself. She was Mr W J Morland's Country Belle (Wildmoor-Bonnie Belle). In 1915 Country Belle was nearing the end of her racing career, but before announcing her farewell performance Mr Morland decided to make an attempt to lower the 2.08 3/5 held by King Cole and Emmeline. The trial took place on the Metropolitan's grounds at about 6.30 on the morning of Thursday, December 16, 1915. Driven by her owner, Country Belle had the assistance as pacemaker of the well-known hurdler, Kingsway, ridden by Free Holmes. She paced her first half in 62secs and, to the delight of her admirers, the full journey in 2.07 1/5.
This record was to stand to 1917, when the Australian-bred Directway mare, Adelaide Direct, paraded in an attempt against it, for a purse of 100 sovereigns, on the second day of the Auckland Club's summer meeting. With the late, M Edwards behind her, she covered her first half in 64secs, and flashed home in 2.06 2/5 - a truly brilliant performance at that time.
In September, 1918, Mr A Fleming's speedy 8-year-old, Our Thorpe, whose career had been interrupted by mishaps, attacked Adelaide Direct's record at Addington. Driven by his owner-trainer, the Cheviot-bred OYM stallion clipped 1/5sec off the previous record; and he was to hold the honour for nearly five years.
It lasted until April 14, 1923, when, on the New Brighton Club's grass track, Happy Voyage, an Australian-bred Direct Voyage entire who had won his way almost to enforced retirement in the Dominion, was piloted over a mile against time in 2.04 1/5 by owner-trainer W J Tomkinson. This constituted a world record for a grass track. Later that year Happy Voyage equalled that time on the six-furlong Auckland track.
November 13 of the following year was the date of one of the most memorable mile contests in the Dominion's history. Five champions stepped out for the free-for-all on the second day of the Cup meeting at Addington. J J Kennerley paraded Logan Chief and Acron, W J Tomkinson Realm, J Messervy Onyx and J Bryce Taraire. In spite of the flying start, Taraire broke and was pulled up by Bryce. Realm made the pace to the half-mile in 60 3/5, and it was then obvious a new record was in the making. Logan Chief reached the lead at the tanks, with Acron alongside him and Realm dropping back to trail. Acron had Lagan Chief's measure at the furlong, but then Realm came at Acron to run the late Sir John McKenzie's champion to a neck. Acron's time - 2.03 3/5. By Logan Pointer from Millie C, who was a daughter of Wildmoor from a mare by Ha Ha, Acron was purchased by J R McKenzie for 2000gns after winning at his initial attempt. He was extremely temperamental, but when in the right mood there was no saying how fast he would go.
Acron's record was to stand for 10 years, but some very creditable miles were paced and trotted in the interim. The year 1925 saw Acron pace 2.04 3/5, Great Bingen 2.04 4/5, and the Australian Machine Brick 2.05 3/5, all at Addington. In 1928, Native Chief paced 2.04 1/5 to beat Great Bingen in a match race at Addington; and in May, 1930, Todd Lonzia marked his introduction to the public at Forbury Park by trotting eight furlongs in the Australasian 2-year-old record of 2.22 2/5. On the Forbury Park track in 1932, Todd Lonzia lowered Revenue's 22-year-old record of 2.11 3/5 by 3/5sec. This was reduced soon after by Olive Nelson, who trotted 2.11 at Westport. In the following year Todd Lonzia was again sent against time at Addington, and registered 2.09. However, he broke several times and it was not a good exhibition upon which to hang a record. Todd Lonzia was by the imported American horse, Lorene's Todd, from Daphne Dean, a daughter of Copa de Oro, sire in America of the successful importation, Rey de Oro.
The year of 1934 had an important bearing on the history of the mile record. This was the date of the visit from Australia of two champion pacers in Walla Walla and Auburn Lad. Walla Walla contested invitation match races against NZ's best at the Easter meeting of that year, winning the mile contest from Harold Logan in 2.04 1/5, a world race-winning record from a standing start. Walla Walla struck trouble in the second match race over a mile and a half, and finished out of a place.
On Tuesday, April 17, 1934, 2000 people gathered at Addington to watch Walla Walla, Auburn Lad and J S Shaw's brilliant NZ Trotting mare, Worthy Queen, race against the watches at a matinee meeting. Walla Walla was first to step out. A fairly stiff breeze was blowing, and after pacing his first half in 58 2/5, he tired considerably to record 2.03 4/5. He was suffering from a heavy cold. Worthy Queen (J S Shaw) then came out with Olax (galloped in sulky with Free Holmes) as pacemaker. At her first attempt she broke at the end of a furlong, but at her second try she never put a foot wrong. She trotted her first half in 60 4/5, and the full journey in the remarkable time of 2.03 3/5. Her record (against time) actually still stands to this day, because Dianthus Girl, 2.03 2/5, and When, 2.02 4/5, put up their times in special match races. Shortly before Worthy Queen's trial, Biddy Parrish had trotted a mile in 2.08 2/5 - a record which stood for but a few minutes.
Although not officially announced Auburn Lad next attacked the record. His pacemaker was no use to him, as he took charge of his driver, and was always about 100 yards in front. Driven by his owner, W McKay, Auburn Lad paced his first half in 60 2/5secs; but unlike Walla Walla, he did not tire so visibly in the final section. He time 2.02 2/5 was posted, and he became the fastest standardbred in Australasia.
Another champion had won his way up the ladder about this time. This was Mr G J Barton's Wrack stallion, Indianapolis. At the NZ Metropolitan Club's Royal meeting in 1935, without any special preparation, he paced an exhibition mile in 2.01 2/5, after covering his first mile in 61secs. Later in the day, he won the main sprint by six lengths. After winning his third NZ Cup in November, 1936, Indianapolis, in a trial against time, clipped a second from his fastest time, failing by 2/5sec to achieve the distinction of being the first 2.00 horse outside America. The same year he took a track record of 2.03 3/5 at Forbury Park against time.
The main mile of note in 1937 was the 2.04 recorded at Auckland by the Pedro Pronto gelding, Nervie's Last. The following year, Mr E Tatlow's Globe Derby horse Van Derby, paced a brilliant mile in the world grass track record time of 2.00 2/5 from a flying start at Auckland; but this grand effort took second place to a performance by his elder half-brother, Lawn Derby.
This was at Addington on Friday, November 11, 1938. Mr J F MacKenney's free-legged Australian champion paraded before a record crowd and, after being given a short warm-up by trainer-driver W J O'Shea, the Robert Derby horse raced past the mile post (with Golden Direct, in sulky driven by Mr Free Holmes, as a galloping pacemaker), and proceeded to 'burn up the clay'. He reached the half in 58 4/5, and stuck to his work in solid style right to the end. The posting of his 1.59 2/5 brought from the great crowd an appreciation befitting the momentous occasion. At last two minutes had been broken outside America; and Lawn Derby's time is still a free-legged record for this part of the world.
The year after, Lawn Derby recorded 2.04 4/5 in a race at the Auckland meeting, and 2.02 2/5 in an attempt aganst time on the six-furlong grass track at Claudelands. Also in 1939, Van Derby paced a mile against time at Epsom in 2.00 2/5. The best mile in 1940 was Lucky Jack's 2.01 1/5 against time at Addington, while in 1941 Gold Bar established a world record from a standing start when, ridden in saddle by M Holmes, he won the Clarkson Handicap from Mankind and Colonel Grattan in 2.03 3/5 on the second day of the Cup meeting. Nine months earlier, Smile Again had won in saddle over this distance at Addington in time only 2/5sec slower.
At Epsom in December, 1941, Josedale Grattan, the NZ Cup winner of that year, recorded 2.02 in a mile against time. A month later in a trial against time at Addington, Gold Bar became the second in the Southern Hemisphere to break 2.00, reeling off the distance in 1.59 3/5. Gold Bar was matched with R Grice's NZ Cup winner Haughty, in a special race at a patriotic meeting held at Addington on Match 27, 1943. B Grice's Nelson Derby-Regal Voyage mare (driven by O E Hooper) beat A Holmes's brilliant stallion (driven by Free Holmes) by two lengths, accomplishing a match-race record of 2.00 2/5. After missing out in her attempt to win her third NZ Cup the following year, Haughty was put against the watch on the second day of the November meeting, and recorded 1.59 3/5. She is still the only mare to have officially broken two minutes out side America.
In 1945 good judges sat up and blinked a little when a 2-year-old named Highland Fling recorded 2.10 for a mile, bettering by 4/5sec the Juvenile record, set at Timaru five years earlier by the young champion, Walter Moore. Highland Fling then became unruly and faded into obscurity for a time before being taken over by a master trainer in L F Berkett. Under Berkett he won his way into fortune and also into the hearts of all trotting enthusiasts over all distances and in all conditions.
And it was on May 1, 1948, that he was stepped out for what was to be the first of a series of phenominal performances against time. This was at Forbury Park where his mission was Indianapolis's track record of 2.03 3/5, established 12 years earlier. A strong southerly wind and a chilly atmosphere were obviously only minor difficulties, for the 'Fling' reeled of eight furlongs in 2.01, pacing his last half mile in 57. His victory, an hour earlier in the Otago Pacing Free-for-all, in which he covered his last mile in 2.03 3/5 had served as a convenient warm-up!
During the following season, Highland Fling made four more attempts against time over one mile. After winning his second NZ Cup in the world race-winning record time of 4.10 3/5 he delighted his admirers by lining up on the second day of the November meeting for a crack at Lawn Derby's long standing record of 1 59 2/5. The ease with which he equalled this record was remarkable. He appeared to be but coasting around, so deceptive was his smooth stride; and his appearance on his return to the birdcage gave the impression that he had not been extended. It was than announced that he would make another attempt to break the record on the third day of the meeting.
Berkett, unorthodox as always, dispensed with the usual strong work-out and galloping pacemaker, and Highland Fling streaked alone around the Addington track to record 1.57 4/5 and become the fastest standardbred outside America. The trainer-driver and Mr A T Kemble's champion were cheered to the echo. Six hours later he won the NZ Premier Sprint Championship in 2.37 2/5, after being left flat-footed at the start. The following January Highland Fling made another attempt against time at Forbury Park, and lowered his previous record for the track from 2.01 to 1.58 - only 1/5sec outside his Australasian record. It was another phenomenal effort. A fortnight later, at Hutt Park, Highland Fling paced his fourth two minute mile of the season, registering 2.00 flat to establish a world grass track record for the distance. The previous record was held by Van Derby, who recorded 2.00 2/5 at Epsom in 1938.
Highland Fling's performances that season overshadowed a very creditable performance by the Bill B gelding, Single Direct, who paced a mile against time at Claudelands. Also in February, 1949, Highland Kilt, a 2-year-old brother of Highland Fling in an attempt at Addington against Todd Lonzia's long-standing juvenile trotting record of 2.22 2/5, lowered those figures to 2.19 1/5, covering his last half in 68secs.
The year 1951 saw an attempt by the brilliant square-gaiter, Dictation, against Worthy Queen's 2.03 3/5. However, J Wilson's Josedale Dictator gelding, after trotting his fist half-mile brilliantly in 61secs, spoiled his display by tangling. He settled down again after losing valuable seconds and recorded only 2.07 2/5. The trial was at New Brighton. However, Dictation enjoyed his full share of other records.
Another sensation arrived on the scene in 1953, in the form of Brahman (Gold Bar, 1.59 3/5-Haughty, 1.59 3/5). He was paraded at Addington in June of that year in an attempt to lower Convivial's Australasian 2-year-old record of 2.08 4/5, established in Melbourne in 1951. Few before the attempt ever imagined that Brahman would do what he subsequently did - a mile in 2.02 1/5, after pacing the first half in 60 2/5. B Grice's mercurial juvenile raced at least one sulky-width out from the rail all the way and, although he did not nearly break the world record of 2.00 held then by Titan Hanover, USA, he amazed the critics.
In December of the 1953-54 season, Johnny Globe, the then idol of NZ enthuisiasts, added to his laurels a new world grass track record of 1.59 4/5 in an attempt against time at Epsom, a record which still stands. Other miles of note in 1953 were Burn's Night's 2.02 3/5 from a standing start to win the Au Revoir Free-for-all at the Easter meeting at Addington: Johnny Globe's improvement on this to 2.01 1/5 to win the Flying Sprint Free-for-all at the following Cup meeting; an exhibition mile by D G Nyhan's new champion in 2.00 1/5 at Kaikoura; and 6-year-old Highland Kilt's 2.04 3/5 in a trotting exhibition, also at Kaikoura.
In July of the same season J D Litten's Royal Mile (Fourth Brigade-Sure Romance), in a trial against time at Addington, lowered Highland Kilt's 2-year-old mile trotting record to 2.16 1/5. Later the same month a bay colt by Gold Change from Princess Yenot paced a mile against time at Epsom in 2.18 3/5 - an Australasian record for a yearling. This was sensationally lowered by Blue, who put up the world yearling record of 2.09 1/5 at Addington in 1957.
Perhaps the greatest mile race in Dominion harness history was that in which Tactician established the Australasian mile race record of 1.59 4/5. That was in 1957 at the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club's Easter meeting in the Flying Stakes. From a moving start Tactician (M C McTigue) won by a nose from Caduceus, who went 2.00 for second. Local Light was three-quarters of a length away third in 2.00 1/5, and Merval was fourth in 2.00 3/5. There have been other stirring mile contests in recent years, but none in which such speed was attained as in the Flying Stakes.
Highland Fling's 1.57 4/5 stood safely out of reach for 11 years until finally lowered by the narrowest of margins by his full brother-in-blood, Caduceus, who went 1.57 3/5 against time at Addington in 1959. And there the mile record remains. Royal Mile's 2-year-old record was lowered to 2.13 1/5 by Au Fait in 1957, and stands to this day. Dianthus Girl, in 1962, in a special trotters match race at Addington, won in 2.03 2/5, thus lowering Worthy Queen's 1934 time of 2.03 3/5 by a fraction. And this season When has reduced the mile trotting main to 2.02 4/5, also in a match race.
Credit: 'Ribbonwood' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 5Jun63
NZ TROTTING ASSN: AMALGAMATION NEGOTIATIONS
The monthly meeting of the New Zealand Trotting Association was held last evening; present - Messrs P Selig (chairman), D McLean, T H Davey, L E Myers and C Howell...A letter was read from the Colonial Sectretary's office, in reply to a letter from the Association regarding the Canterbury Trotting Club's permits, referrring the Association to a letter addressed to the Canterbury Trotting Club, dated August 12, to the effect that, pending some arrangement between that club and the New Zeraland Metropolitan Trotting Club (the late Lancaster Park Amateur Trotting Club) as to amalgamation, the Colonial Secretary would probably deem it expedient to reduce the number of permits hitherto granted...
Credit: Star 5 Apr 1900
A special meeting of the New Zealand Trotting Association was held on Saturday afternoon to consider applications from the Canterbury Trotting Club and New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club to pass programmes of meetings to be held about the same time next month. The President, who was in the chair, detailed the correspondence on the subject, and stated that on receipt of another telegram from the Colonial Secretary, stating that there would be no permit for the Canterbury Trotting Club's meeting, he thought it desirable to summon a special meeting. After considerable discussion it was unanimously resolved — " That the Chairman, Mr Howell and Mr King be a committee to interview the Presidents of the Canterbury Trotting Club and New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club, with a view of bringing about the amalgamation of the two clubs, the applications for passing the programmes to be held over in the meantime." The committee subsequently had an hour's conference with Messrs T. Marr and V. Harris (presidents of the clubs), the result being that each undertook to convene special meetings of members of his club to consider the matter. It is expected, that the meetings will be held on Thursday.
Credit: Star 23 April 1900
1899 CANTERBURY TROTTING CLUB - Amalgamation Debate
In response to a requisition signed by seven members, a special meeting of the Canterbury Trotting Club was held last evening to re-consider the advisableness of joining the Lancaster Park Trotting Club in acquiring their new ground. There was a good attendance of members, and the President (Mr T Marr) occupied the chair.
At the opening of the meeting, the Chairman said he would refuse to put any motion that was proposed, as he ruled that, according to Rule 16, the matter, having once been decided, could not be re-opened during the financial year. This ruling caused a heated discussion, several members contending that it applied only to committee meetings. Finally, the Chairman, under protest, agreed to allow the meeting to proceed.
Mr W Tonks moved and Mr G Payling seconded - "That it is desirable for this club to join with the Lancaster Park Club in acquiring the land known as the Twigger Estate, situate at Addington, on lease for the purpose of erecting stands, fencing, etc, and forming a track for holding future meetings."
In the discussion, the supporters of the motion said they were not in favour of the clubs amalgamating to form one club, but wished to see the Canterbury Club join forces with the Lancaster Park Club in securing an up-to-date track.
Mr H Reynolds moved and Mr J H Thompkins seconded an amendment, expressing the desirableness of sending a deputation to interview the Colonial Secretary to ascertain whether, in the event of the clubs joining to secure a track, the permits would be granted as at present.
After a long discussion, the amendment was lost by thirteen to twelve; and on the motion being put it was lost by fourteen to thirteen, the Chairman exercising both his deliberative and casting vote against it.
Credit: Star 12 Aug 1899
In February 1898 it was reported that the Lancaster Park Amateur Trotting Club and the Canterbury Trotting Club had each appointed sub-committees to meet and discuss the purchase of suitable land adjacent to Christchurch for the establishment of a Trotting track with facilities but the joint committee did not meet with any success. In July 1898 the Lancaster Park Ground Company acquired more land and signified it was agreeable to the track being extended to a half mile if the Lancaster Park Amateur Trotting Club would take up a five year tenancy. At the Annual General Meeting of the Lancaster Park Amateur Trotting Club held on 15th August, 1898, a Committeeman stated that more effort should be made by the joint sub-committee to find a new ground and that if they continued to be unsuccessful then the Club should enter into an agreement with the Lancaster Park Ground Committee. The Deans property at Riccarton had been explored as a possibility. It was advocated at the time that Lancaster Park Amateur Trotting Club and Canterbury Trotting Club should join forces provided there was no reduction in total permits now held by the two Clubs (Lancaster Park 4, Canterbury 6).
Credit: NZMTC: Historical Notes compiled by D C Parker
1899 CANTERBURY TROTTING CLUB SPRING MEETING.
The Spring meeting of the Canterbury Trotting Club commenced today (Wednesday, 16 August). Results:
INNOVATION HANDICAP (saddle) of 50 sovs. Two miles. - Lalla Rookh, 19sec, 1; Jean Valjean, 19sec, 2; Simon R, 17sec, 3. There were 13 other starters. Won by four lengths. Time 5min 51 2/5sec. Dividend £6 16s.
PONY HANDICAP TROT (harness) of 40 sovs. One mile and a half. - Agnes, 24sec, 1; Amelia, 3sec, 2; Farewell, 24sec, 3. Ten others started. Won very easily. Time 4min 41sec. Dividend £7 18s. A protest against Agnes on the ground of having been trained by an unlicensed person was dismissed, but the owner of Amelia gave notice to appeal to the Trotting Association.
HIGH-CLASS HANDICAP (harness) of 120 sovs. Two miles. - Vickery, 1sec, 1; Cling, 5sec, 2; The Baron, 10sec, 3. Three others started. A fine race; won by three lengths. Time 5min 16sec. Dividend £2 14s.
INTERMEDIATE HANDICAP (saddle) of 75 sovs. Two miles. - Lexington, 2sec, 1; Rarus, scr, 2; Miss Brownwood, 5sec, 3. Nine others started. Won easily. Time 5min 33sec. Dividend £3 8s.
PROGRESSIVE HANDICAP (harness) of 70 sovs. Two miles. - Toronto, 26sec, 1; Hazeldean, 5sec, 2; Johnnie II, scr and Wandering Willie 2sec, 3. Five others started. Thelma won the race, but the stewards awarded the stakes to Toronto, upholding a protest against Thelma of blocking Toronto on the back of the course. The owner of Thelma gave notice to appeal to the Trotting Association. The stakes and dividend were withheld pending a decision. Time 5min 39sec. Dividend £15 16s. Thelma's dividend would have been £2 4s.
SPRING HANDICAP (harness) of 100 sovs. Two miles. - Almont, 4sec, 1; Collector, 2sec, 2; Elfock, 10sec, 3. Five others started. Time 5min 24 1/5sec. Dividend £2 2s.
ELECTRIC HANDICAP (saddle) of 75 sovs. One mile. - The Member, 11sec, 1; Wilkin, 7sec, 2; Cling, 2sec, 3. Thirteen others started. Won very easily. Time 2min 40sec. Dividend £2 12s.
DASH HANDICAP (saddle) of 75 sovs. One mile. - Val, 4sec, 1; Moana, 6sec, 2; Carolina, 10 sec, 3. Four others started. Time 2min 47 1/5sec. Dividend £1 8s.
Credit: Otago Daily Times 17 Aug 1899