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YEAR: 1965

MR B A JARDEN

Mr Benjamin Alexander Jarden a former outstanding trotting driver and rider, and the father of the former All Black, R A Jarden, has died at Lower Hutt. He was 71.

He trained and drove the 1918 NZ Cup winner, Author Dillon, whose earlier successes included the NZ Derby, and who won the Metropolitan Free-For-All three years in succession, 1918, 1919 & 1920. Author Dillon was the glamour horse of his era, a lion-hearted performer and record-breaker.

Marie Tempest, Haunui and Waitaki Girl were among capable performers he drove to success in the twenties.

Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 27Oct65

 

YEAR: 1918

The Trotting Cup of 1918 is now purely a matter of history, but those present at Addington on Tuesday of last week were privileged to witness a race well worthy of the stake. The winner Author Dillon, has long since been recognised as a high-class horse, in fact a champion, and right well did he bear out his reputation, for not only did he win, but he did his work in such style and won so well as to cast aside from the victory any semblance of luck.

There were eleven starters, and handicapped on 3secs. B. Jarden's horse had eight horses in front of him, not one of whom he passed on the inside. He showed a fine burst of speed in the second half of the first mile which landed him in a good winning position and there he remained till the final lap was entered. Then Jarden called on his champion and the son of Harold Dillon, with a brilliant dash of speed, was with the leaders, Sungod and Moneymaker, at the half-mile. A little further on, Author Dillon drew out four lengths and swinging into the straight well clear, he finished up a brilliant winner by four lengths from Matchlight who was just three-quarters of a length in front of Sungod. Moneymaker was less than a length away fourth.

The trotting public quickly recognised the merit m the performance of the winner and rounds of cheering greeted Ben Jarden and his fine little horse as they returned to the enclosure. Both Sungod and Moneymaker ran a solid race all through, and Matchlight finished perhaps just as well as the winner, but lacked the necessary burst of brilliance to go with Author Dillon along the back the last time. Emilius did not strike a gait at the start but showed plenty of pace when he did settle down. Sherwood and John Dillon never looked to have a winning chance, but John Dillon was in a good position when he met trouble and was pulled up. Admiral Wood had no chance, but the big disappointment was Cathedral Chimes. Certainly he lost a second or more at the start but even then he showed no brilliancy at all, and from start to finish he ran last. With a mile gone his backers did not bother to look at him again but turned their attention to the great race Author Dillon was going. The times of the placed horses were: Author Dillon, 4m. 26 2-5.; Matchlight, 4m. 31 4-5.; Sungod, 4m. 34 4-5. Author Dillon's time was a record for the race.

In the smash in which five of the six runners in the Riccarton Handicap fell, the well-known reinsman, J. Bryce, sustained a broken leg. This necessitated another horseman being engaged to drive Bryce's horses at the meeting, and A. Hendricksen was selected. Pitiroa who was paying a good price, looked all over a winner when he fell in the Riccarton Handicap. Cora Dillon had two starts the first day, but failed to land a winning prize.

Imperial Crown downed a good field in rare style in the Middleton Handicap, and the son of Rothschild is a credit to his trainer, N. Price. Imperial Crown will work his way into the first flight of free-legged trotters. Norval King was going great guns for a mile and three-quarters in the Middleton Handicap, but he was gone when the final quarter was entered upon. One of these days he will see the two miles out and pay a price. Lady Patricia did not go kindly until the field had well settled down in the Middleton Handicap; and it was then too late for her to get to the leaders. Olive L. went a poor race m the Middleton Handicap, and at no stage of the race did she look to have a chance. Auckland Girl showed pace on the first day, but did not go solid all through.

Colenut made a rare exhibition of a dozen opponents in the Victoria Handicap, and when the last half mile was entered upon J. Burke's chestnut cleared out from the field winning pulling up by a dozen lengths. Nancy Stair should be called naughty Nancy after her run in the Victoria Handicap. Nancy will be coming home soon. George Hard was easy the first day. Lord Minto carried heaps of "minto" the first day, but though he ran a great race and finished second, his lordship had no chance with Colenut. A mile and a half race is well within Ramitiairi's grasp. He would win it by the length of his name. Dillon Eddy carried good money the first day, but it must have been Eddy's half holiday. General Link was beaten by acres, not links, in the Victoria Handicap. Two miles is enough if not too much for him. Sympathy spoiled her chance m the Victoria Handicap by going to a break very early. When she did settle down she showed plenty of pace and was close up to the placed horses at the finish.

Huon Patch would not settle down great pace in the St. Albans Handicap, cap and paddled along behind the field all the way. Fernlelgh went off the limit at a great pace in the St. Alban's Handicap, and this won the bay mare the race. Silver Quick got to her a long way from home and the pair raced locked together to the judge. Fernlelgh just had a shade the best of it all through.

Evelyn will step out in the not far distant future and make a lot of sweethearts. She is a fast Miss is Evelyn. Trix Pointer showed a fine burst of speed over the last quarter of the Hagley mile and made a job of the field. General Wilkes should be court martialled for deserting his large army of backers the first day at Addington. The admirers of Cathedral Chimes must have done a parcel over the three failures of the little bay. The fact of Cathedral Chimes being beaten by both Adelaide Direct and Admiral Wood suggests Bryce's horse is not at his best. Lord Minto was backed for pounds, shillings and pence in the mile saddle the last day but he never ever looked like getting to the leaders and was beaten all along. Cora Dillon is not always reliable at the peg but she left the mark all right on the concluding day and cast a mile behind under 2m. 13s. Needless to say, as she began off the limit, the others had no chance.

Ramaitiari and Vice Admiral raced themselves to a standstill in the mile and a quarter on Friday and when Stanley's Child came along neither had a kick left. Pitiroa was backed the final day as though he had only to jog round the track and get the prize but he treated his backers badly by doing the Highland Fling at the start.

Both Lord Roanchild and Electrocute were in good positions in the freelegged race the last day, but both were called off for going before their time.

B. Jarden had a great innings at the Metropolitan meeting. He only started three horses, Author Dillon scoring two wins and a second, John Dillon one win and one second, and Huon Paten two seconds. Anything from J. Bryce's stable generally commands respect from backers, but Joan of Arc was almost neglected when she won on the concluding day, and she paid a big dividend. Harold Lander was a strong tip for the Governor's Handicap. It was his only appearance at the meeting and the Harold Dillon gelding made a job of his opponents. Chub ran very consistently on the three days, securing two thirds and a fourth. Erin's Queen won the Lyttelton Handicap in a jog, and, as usual, paid a good price. Some day we will all wake to to the fact that she is good with a capital G.

The treat of the meeting was Author Dillon's performance m the Christchurch Handicap on the concluding day. Conceding up to 12sec. start he paced in rare style and just failed by half a length to reach Willie Lincoln. Author Dillon had to go on the outside of the field all the way, and in covering the two miles in 4m. 24 3-5s. he put up the finest performance yet registered at Addington.

Another race or two and Agathos will have his turn. He was improving as the meeting went on and on the final day ran a real good race. Sherwood had every chance each time he started, but he did not pay a dividend. Sir Fulham is a good horse In saddle. Two furlongs from home he looked a certainty in the Australasian Handicap, but the last bit found him out, and both Joan of Arc and Granger headed him off in the run home. Bridgewood only wants a race or two and his turn will come. Good money went on Peter Mac the last day. He was putting in good work on the last lap when he went to a break and settled a good winning chance. Pax has heaps of pace but does not go far with it.

Galician settled whatever chance he had in the Dominion Trotting Handicap by doing a tango at the start. He then plodded along behind the field all the way. Lady Patricia cannot go a solid two miles. Whispering Willie showed a rare burst of speed in the last lap of the Dominion Handicap and beat the opposition pointless.

After the fine performance of Adelaide Direct in the Free-for-All, it looked like getting money from home backing her in the Recovery Handicap, but she ran badly, finishing last in a field of four. John Dillon stepped to the front and that was the end, the Harold Dillon horse never letting the others in. Admiral Wood got up and cut Cathedral Chimes out of second money. When looking to have a particularly good chance in the Dominion Handicap, Olive L. petered put. Truganini is liable to bob up any time and reward T. Fox for the care bestowed on the Del Pasco mare.

With Cora Dillon going a mile in a tick under 2.13 off the front end of a mile saddle race, it is needless to say the others had no chance with her. She didn't only win, she walked in. Handicapped to do 4m. 54s., Craibwood, whom everybody had deserted long ago, came out on the second day and gave nothing a chance in the Whiteleigh Handicap, going 4m. 50 l-5. Mushroom battled on well in second place on the middle day of the meeting, but had no chance of getting to Craibwood.

It will be hard for Hannah M. to win in future. Harold Child set out to win the November Handicap from end to end, and he nearly did it. At the home turn he looked to be going well in front, but when challenged by Granger he fell to pieces and was beaten easily. Scottish Queen is not brilliant but is liable to win a saddle race at any time. Granger, who brought off a small surprise when he landed the November Handicap, Is trained by F. E. Jones, who also rode the Harold Dillon gelding. Peter Mac was nicely placed all through the November Handicap, but when expected to finish on over the last quarter, he fell away. Mahinga was well up for a mile and a half in the November Handicap and then faded out of the picture.

After his second in the Cup it was not surprising to see Matchlight win the big race, the Courtenay Handicap on the second day, but he only got up in the last few strides to touch Willie Lincoln off. Some day the public will tumble how good Erin's Queen is. Romped home again last week and paid the limit. Colenut got a bad passage m the Metropolitan Handicap. Six furlongs from home he got shut in on the fence and did not get out till two furlongs from home when be travelled very fast, but could only get third. Lady Haldane left the mark all right the second day, but she did not get in the money after having every chance. Ramitiariri did a polka at the start of the Metropolitan Handicap and took no part in the raoe. Nancy Stair showed a heap more pace in the Metropolitan than she did the first day, and she looked a winner till A. Fleming strolled along with Erin's Queen.

A better start than the Free-for-All could not be made, the whole off the four runners leaving together. Cathedral Chimes on the inside went on in front and led for three furlongs, when Author Dillon drew level. For the next furlong and a half the pair raced locked together, but then Author Dillon went on in front, and pacing in rare style, he came on to win comfortably from Adelaide Direct, who got to Cathedral Chimes two furlongs from home and beat him easily for second place. Admiral Wood was never dangerous.

Galician was a strong tip for the Sockburn Handicap, and he duly landed, but Imperial Crown was getting to him at the finish. The Railway Handicap was only a work-out for Sir Fulham, who is some good in saddle. He beat Huon Patch pointless after the latter had got to him early. Beckom made short work of a highclass lot in the Royal Handicap. Sprinting to the front less than half a mile from home he won with a bit in reserve.


Credit: Waimangu writing in NZ Truth 16 Nov 1918

 

YEAR: 1918

Author Dillon winner of the 1918 Cup
Author Dillon was acknowledged as the gamest and greatest racehorse to this time in the Southern Hemisphere. He won 18 races and gained 14 minor placings from 58 starts, then became a successful sire with 55 winners. He was raced and trained by Ben Jarden whose son Ron became one of NZ's most famous rugby stars.

 

YEAR: 1918

Author Dillon & Ben Jarden in the winner's circle
1918 NEW ZEALAND TROTTING CUP

Author Dillon had only just escaped the fire at trainer Ben Jarden's stables a year before with a singed tail, but on this occasion was far too quick for 10 rivals on Cup day.

A son of leading imported sire Harold Dillon and Authoress, a sister of Wildwood Junior, Author Dillon was the champion of the time and was so superior on this day, despite giving away starts of up to seven seconds, that he had the race in safe keeping half a mile from home.

Handicapped on the benchmark of nine seconds and out of the next two Cups, Author Dillon won three consequtive NZ FFA's, comfortably having the better of Cathedral Chimes off level marks, and went on to a successful stud career despite limited opportunities.

His credits in that respect included the dam of 1940 Cup winner Marlene.

**NZ HRWeekly 1Oct 2003**

The 1918 New Zealand Cup was billed as a match race between the two outstanding horses, Author Dillon and Cathedral Chimes, the former handicapped at 4:27 and Cathedral Chimes at 4:24 in the 11 horse field. Cathedral Chimes, bracketed with Matchlight and Sherwood, Author Dillon, bracketed with John Dillon, and Randle McDonnell's Emilius carried three-quarters of the 11,158 10s invested on the race. Agathos and Admiral Wood, both of whom had lost all form, had little support. From the front, Sungod had a 10-second start from Cathedral Chimes and seven seconds from Author Dillon. But that huge advantage was not enough.

Sungod, driven by 19-year-old F G Holmes - having his first drive in the race - and Moneymaker (Andy Pringle) made the early pace, but failed to stay the distance, finishing third and fourth. Second favourite Author Dillon paced a splendid race, being patiently handled an well driven by Ben Jarden. Itwas obvious four furlongs from the winning post the Author Dillon had the race in safe keeping and he won by four lengths from Matchlight (Albert Hendricksen), who finished a game second and rescued the James Bryce trio.

Emilius broke at the start and lost a lot of ground. He made several attempts during the race to get closer by following Author Dillon, but faded and finished fifth. Adelaide Direct failed to show any dash, while Agathos, Admiral Wood, John Dillon and Sherwood were never prominent. The biggest disappointment, however, was Cathedral Chimes, who began slowly and toiled in th rear, finishing a long last.

Author Dillon's time of 4:26.4 was a national race-winning record and, when retuned to the birdcage, he and Jarden received a great reception. Cheering broke out again when the club president, Charles Louisson, presented the silver cup to Jarden. Author Dillon was hailed a champion and his subsequent form confirmed his standing as th country's best-performed pacer to that time. Two days later he won the first of his three consecutive New Zealand Free-For-Alls, beating Adelaide Direct by two lengths, with six lengths to Cathedral Chimes, and the only other starter, Admiral Wood, beaten off. Author Dillon's New Zealand Cup - Free-For-All double at the same meeting has been repeated 25 times.

Willie Lincoln, by Lord Elmo, who was second behind Matchlight in the Courtenay Handicap, won the third-day Christchurch Handicap. However, Author Dillon provided th sensation. He started 12 seconds behind the winner and was beaten by only a half-length. He paced a world-record 4:24.6. The 2000 won by Author Dillon was the largest sum won at a harness racing meeting in New Zealand. Ben Jarden raced three horses at this meeting, John Dillon and Huon Patch being the other two. All were in the money, netting Jarden 2405. Author Dillon was the season's top earner with 2350.

Cup Day racing was marred by a fall in the fourth race, the Riccarton Handicap, in which James Bryce broke his leg. No other driver was hurtand no horses suffered injuries. While the fall sidelined Bryce for a considerable time, the family name was not absent from the tracks, because James Bryce junior made his appearance at the age of 16 and won the third-day Australasian Handicap with Joan of Arc.

Author Dillon started in two further New Zeand Cups, pacing a world race record of 4:21.6 in 1920 when finishing third. Over seven seasons he was the top earner only once, though in 1920-21 he was runner-up to Willie Lincoln. He eventually went into retirement aged nine, having raced 58 times, for 18 wins and 14 minor placings. His lifetime earnings reached 7760, won during a period when stakes were very low by today's standards. He paid for his brilliant performances with increasing handicaps and from early on was starting from near-impossible marks. At the time of his retirement, Author Dillon had lowered his mile time to 2:06.4. In addition, he held the two-mile(4:21.6) and one-mile-and-a-quarter(2:41.4)records, sharing the latter with Our Thorpe who, just before the 1918 Cup, set a mile record of 2:06.2 against time at Addington. Sungod, third in the 1918 Cup, eventually went to stud in Southland, where he was the leading sire for many years.

Ben Jarden raced a big team. He later moved from Islington to Yaldhurst, where he set up his Irvington Stud and in 1940 he moved to Lower Hutt and trained a small team at Hutt Park. The Jarden name was kept to the forefront in the 1950's through the deeds of Ben Jarden's son, Ron, who became one of New Zealand's greatest rugby stars. For a time Ben Jarden stood Author Dillon at his Irvington Stud, and later Sir John McKenzie stood him at Roydon Lodge. Author Dillon proved a successful sire. He produced two Cup-class offspring (Author Jinks and Lindbergh) and a Dominion Handicap winner in Writer. His daughters produced several good winners, among them Marlene(1940 New Zealand Cup winner), Knave Of Diamonds(placed in the 1947 Cup) and Indian Clipper.

Author Dillon's sire, Harold Dillon, was an outstanding producer who took over from Rothschild as the leading sire in New Zealand. He was at the head of the list for six seasons, from 1916-17 until 1921-22. He was foaled in California in 1903 and imported to New Zealand bt Etienne Le Lievre as a yearling. The American horseman Robert McMillan stood Harold Dillon at his Santa Rosa Stud, at Halswell, with outstanding success. Author Dillon was certainly his best offspring, but others who made Cup class were Paul Default, Dolly Dillon, Oinako, Lord Dillon, Sungod, Waitaki Girl and Adonis. Harold Dillon mares also produced nemerous winners, the best being the great race and broodmare Parisienne, dam of La Mignon and Mary Wootton, La Mignon ran third in the 1957 New Zealand Cup and later produced the brilliant Garcon Roux. Mary Wootton, to U Scott, produced Scottish Command, who also recorded a third in the New Zealand Cup, in 1961. Scottish Command left his mark at stud, producing Sole Command, who won the NZ Cup in 1977, and the Auckland Cup in February 1978, and Trusty Scot, winner of the 1978 NZ Cup. Scottish Command became the third New Zealand-bred sire, after Johnny Globe and Young Charles, to break the stranglehold that the imported sires held on the New Zealand breeding scene. He finished top sire in the 1977-78 season.

**Bernie Wood writing in The Cup**

Credit: NZ HRWeekly 1Oct03

 

YEAR: 1917

The New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club commenced its Spring meeting on Tuesday last in fine weather. After the second race a high wind sprang up. The track was in excellent order, and there was a very large- attendance. The New Zealand Trotting Cup, which has for some considerable time been the chief topic, reached its zenith when the horses went on to the track.

Of the 14 contestants, Cathedral Chimes, Author Dillon, Adelaide Direct and Agathos looked the best, all stripping fit enough to run the race of their lives. Enthusiasm was high as the horses did their preliminaries. Speculation was keen when the machine closed. Jarden's trio were better backed than Boyes's reps. The start was good, John Dillon broke up badly, and Hardy Wilkes put in a skip and lost ground. At the end of two furlongs Moneymaker was in charge from Soda, Agathos, Evelyn and Adelaide Direct, with the favorites making up their ground in good style. Passing the stand Moneymaker was just in front of Soda and Agathos with Adelaide Direct, Evelyn and Hardy Wilkes next, as they wheeled into the back stretch Moneymaker and Soda were just clear of Agathos, Evelyn, Adelaide Direct and Hardy Wilkes, with the favorites still improving their positions. On reaching the mile post, Moneymaker and Soda drew out a length from Agathos with Adelaide Direct, Evelyn and Hardy Wilkes in close attendance. Passing the stand the field bunched, the favorites being close up, racing down the back Evelyn ran to the front from Moneymaker and Agathos but three furlongs from home Adelaide Direct ran through and opened up a gap of two lengths from Agathos, Evelyn, Cathedral Chimes and Author Dillon. Rounding the top turn. Adelalde Direct increased her advantage, and turned into the straight five lengths clear of Agathos. In the run home Cathedral Chimes and Author Dillon challenged, and the greatest of all trotting Cups ended in a struggle between Cathedral Chimes, Agathos and Author Dillon for placed honors. Adelaide Direct won amidst great applause by five lengths from Cathedral Chimes, who finished a neck in front of Author Dillon, with Agathos a head further away fourth, with Evelyn fifth and Hardy Wilkes sixth.

King William was sent out favorite for the Spring Handicap for unhoppled trotters, two miles, under saddle. He began smartly and soon obtained a big lead which he held to the finish, he was well ridden by "Manny" Edwards, who trains him. King William should win again. Parkfield with his owner aboard trotted well and should be in the money before the meeting is concluded. Mushroom went a very solid race. He is short of work so should annex a stake when ready. Lady Patricia did not go too well. She is more at home in harness. Craibwood showed some of his old form. It will be hard for him to win a race, as the time against him for second money will tighten him up in the handicap. Wood Drift is very erratic. He might fluke a race. Bridgewood is an improved horse. He is very solid and stays well over two miles.

Stormy Way broke badly and lost all chance m the Empire Handicap. She did the same thing at Oamaru. Zara cost the public further money. She is not worth following. Rorke's Drift went a solid race but could not muster up enough pace over the concluding stages of the Empire Handicap. He finished fourth. Pita Roa is inclined to loaf. Had Jarden taken a whip out with him he would have been closer to the leaders. A mile and a half is more to his liking. Harold Direct broke at the start of the Empire Handicap, and lost a lot of ground. He showed a phenomenal burst of speed. Had he gone away kindly he would have walked in.

Brown Bell had every chance in the Riccarton Handicap, but broke up badly and finished fifth. Karryrie has a great burst of speed. At the end of a furlong in the Riccarton Handicap she broke and nearly stood on her head. Bryce got her going again with the result that she soon gathered up the field, and going to the front three furlongs from home, she won easily from Lady Rothsoon, who tired badly over the concluding stages. Frandocia ran his best race for some time past. He does not put any vim into his work. Lady Rothsoon has always been troublesome. At the start her tactics cost her a good deal of ground. At the start of the Riccarton Handicap had she began kindly she must have won. She is nothing more or less than a bundle of nerves.

Truganini has been very sore in her work. She trotted a surprisingly good race when she won the Middleton Handicap. Gay Wilkes broke up badly in the Middleton Handicap and lost all his handicap. Louie Drift refused to go away in the Middleton Handicap. Norval King still fades out badly at the end of two miles. Michael Galindo broke badly in the Middleton Handicap. He came very fast over the last half mile and finished fourth. Eruption was backed by his connections in the Middleton Handicap, but he broke up badly at the start, and refused to trot. At the end of two furlongs Franks pulled him up and joined the spectators. Kaikanui is hitting out freely in his work. He has always raced best under saddle. Red Bell is on the improve, and is one that should soon land a stake.

Imperial Crown goes good in saddle and stays well. King- Lear would try the patience of Job. It's a shame to waste good time with him. Miss Audrey is now trained by H. Gasken at Anerley. Marietta is still going with a hop behind. She is a nice trotter when right. Reter Peter is striding along very pleasingly at Addington. Ringleader is none too sound, and cannot be regarded as a great stake earner. Lady Linwood is one of the best maiden trotters seen out this year. She is worth owning. J. H. Wilson, the trainer of Admiral Wood, is slightly amiss and will not be at his best for November engagements. Moneymaker will be a winner at the Carnival fixture. The Christchurch Handicap perhaps.

Wallace Wood is coming back to his best form. On Thursday of last week he ran out a couple of miles m approved style. Emilius sustained a slight injury to his knee and in consequence was scratched for all engagaments at the Metrop. flxture. Michael Galindo is training on very satisfactorily. Commander Bell is m great buckle, and must soon replenish the oatbin. Antonio is under a cloud. His old legs are showing the worse for wear. Hardy Wilkes ought to deliver the goods in the Dominion Trotters Cup. Harold Direct does not look ready. The much inbred son of Harold Rothschild is a good horse when right. Denver Huon refuses to do his best in a race, and must be regarded as a past number. Winn All is showing glimpses of his best form. He still breaks badly.

Macwood is back with Pat De Largey for whom the erratic trotter went good. Gemma will catch a race before Spring Carnival is concluded. Sherwood is certain to collect a stake at the Spring Carnival. Steel Bell is at her best just now, and will be hard to keep out of the money.

The champion pacing mare, Emmeline has produced a colt foal to Wildwood Junr. and her full-sister, Aileen, a colt to Logan Pointer. Both mares are this season to be mated with Brent Locanda.

Willie Lincoln is very fast over a mile and a quarter. Lord Roanchild is in great buckle, and should be one of the hardest to beat in the two mile trotters events at the Metrop. Law Chimes has been doing attractive work. She takes a lot of heading over a mile in saddle.

Credit: The Toff writing in NZ Truth 10 Nov 1917

 

YEAR: 1917

Adelaide Direct (Manny Edwards) after the 1917 Cup
1917 NEW ZEALAND TROTTING CUP

Australian-bred mare Adelaide Direct added another one for the fairer sex when she outstayed what was considered the finest field yet assembled, with those down the track including Cathedral Chimes, Author Dillon, Win Soon, Agathos, Steel Bell and Admiral Wood.

The latter gave up to nine seconds start to some and not surprisingly made little impression when Adelaide Direct paced a race record of 4:27 4/5.

More excitement at the meeting was caused by an explosion of benzine in a store, causing a fire which destroyed the stables of Ben Jarden at Islington.

**NZ HR Weekly 1Oct 2003**

The Australian-bred mare Adelaide Direct made it three New Zealand Cups in four years for her sex when she outstayed what was considered a field of the fastest pacers assembled for a race in New Zealand. Adelaide Direct had shown form in a number of important races since making her first excursion to New Zealand in 1915, as a member of Manny Edwards' team. She was a 10-year-old by Directway (an American stallion at stud in Australia), from an Honest Harry mare.

From her seven-second handicap, Edwards had her well-positioned all the way. She settled in fifth place behind Moneymaker, Soda, Agathos and Evelyn at the end of half-a-mile. Edwards sent her to the front in the back straight on the last lap and she turned into the home straight ahead of Cathedral Chimes, Agathos and Author Dillon. She was not tested to win by four lengths from Cathedral Chimes, with a neck to Author Dillon and a similar margin to Agathos. Then followed Evelyn, Hardy Wilkes, Soda, Moneymaker, Oinako and Admiral Wood.

This success was the second in the New Zealand Cup for the Edwards family, and its last, despite several further attempts by subsequent generations. Adelaide Direct's winning time of 4:27.8 was a New Zealand race-winning record and gave her a great double, because at this time she also held the New Zealand mile record of 2:06.4, made against time at Auckland on December 29, 1916. Admiral Wood, who started from the back, conceding the front-runners nine seconds, had the fastest two-mile mark of 4:23.6, made against time. He was always a fair way from the leaders and found his long handicap too tough.

The 1917 event was an excellent spectacle, unaffected by the accidents that had dogged recent Cups. The Metropolitan Club, determined to eliminate the poor starts and performances of the recent contests, tightened the acceptance class by two seconds to 4:34, and was rewarded with a compact field of 14.

Some new and exciting horses had emerged during the previous 12 months. The one who captured most of the attention was a Harold Dillon five-year-old named Author Dillon, soon to earn the title of champion. Authoress, his dam, was by Wildwood from Thelma, thus a sister to Wildwood Junior. Author Dillon was trained at Islington by Ben Jarden, who had two others from his stable, John Dillon and Agathos, in the race.

Author Dillon won the pre-Cup Trial and covered the mile-and-a-half in 3:15.8, a New Zealand record. Having caught the imagination of the public with some wonderful performances, he was made race favourite. Handicapped on three seconds, he had only Admiral Wood behind him, but third was the best he could do in a fast-run race.

Cathedral Chimes, again a contender for James Bryce, formed a strong bracket with Win Soon and Soda. The latter raced prominently for most of the race but tired badly over the final three furlongs, while Win Soon lost her chance with a wretched beginning. Andy Pringle's Moneymaker, off the front line, led almost from the outset, but six furlongs from the finish he surrendered his lead and gradually dropped back, while Erin's King, the National Cup winner in August, was always well back. Hardy Wilkes, the only trotter entered, and well supported, ran a fair sixth, while the sole North Islander, Steel Bell, was outclassed.

The excitement between the first and second days of the meeting came fron Ben Jarden's Islington stables. An explosion of Benzene in a store caused a blaze that razed his stables. The fire started at 8pm on the Wednesday and within an hour his building had disappeared in flames. Jarden lost all his gear, but fortunately boys on the premises saved his horses. It was a narrow escape, so narrow, in fact, that Author Dillon had his tail singed. However, he contested his first New Zealand Free-For-All in gear that Jarden borrowed, finishing second behind Cathedral Chimes, with Adelaide Direct, who attempted to lead all the way, a creditable third.

Author Dillon continued to amaze harness racing followers and paced an outstanding race on the final day, finishing fifth in the Christchurch Handicap, won by Sherwood (James Bryce). Sherwood, who enjoyed a nine-second advantage, covered the two miles in 4:29, so Author Dillon's run showed that the 4:20 goal was within reach, although not eventually bettered until 1926.

Olive L, in front all the way, won the Dominion Handicap decisively in 4:39.6, from Red Heather and the Cup contender Hardy Wilkes.

Cathedral Chimes, with 2130, was the season's leading earner and James Bryce, with 2185, was the leading owner (for the only time) and also the top trainer, with 22 wins. Once again Andy Pringle headed him off for the title of top reinsman, with 20 wins, while Bryce finished with 18.

With such outstanding horses at the meeting, the club achieved record totalisator turnover. Show Day betting reached a single-day record of 50,531 and the three-day total was 136,339.

**Bernie Wood writing in The Cup**

 

YEAR: 1981

Ernie Trist at one of his machines
TRIST & SMALL

Even before the turn of the century, E Trist & Co., the well known 'saddlers etc' were begging to announce that they had the 'Largest Stock of Trotting, Racing and Polo Boots to select from in the Colony and every description of Trotting Boots are manufactured on the premises...' And now, eighty years afterwards, those at Trist & Small reckon they're the only saddlers in the country dealing in and manufacturing only trotting goods.

"Some of the boots, of course, can be used by other horses, but they're the exception - and then only by coincidence," one of the present principals in the company, Laurie Trist, explains. The other partner is Chris Owen, with Trist & Small since leaving school more than eleven years ago. There is not a Small in the place. There was once. But that was a long time ago, even before Laurie's dad Ernie can remember. And he's been taking notice of what went on in the firm since he was a youngster old enough to be taken into town by his mother and later to work there after school.

Ernie's grandfather, John Trist, started it all off. More than 100 years ago, 109 would be closer to the mark. "He was a tent and sailmaker by trade. I never knew him, never spoke to him...only ever say photos of him," the current senior Trist said when the Calendar visited the saddlery last week. That John Trist's business was eventually taken over by Ernie Trist's father John ('known as Bill') and uncle Ernest. Again they were into tents and sails as well as holding the 'largest stock of Trotting...' and so on. "They must have made good equipment. Only a year ago we had some harness in here to repair and it still had the 'E Trist' label on it. It must have been made last century.

Ernie Trist doesn't know when it was exactly that his father left the original family business and set up with a certain George Small. "It must have been round the turn of the century because they took a Gold Medal award at the 1906 NZ Exhibition," he explained. There's a faded, yet still impressive, framed certificate on the workshop wall to prove it. And an invoice sent out to a client in 1905 for work done on various pieces of leatherware. Working almost solely with leather has been the hallmark of the Trist & Small business almost from the beginning. Ernie Trist began a 5-year apprenticeship making racing and trotting equipment from leather in 1928. "And everything was done almost exactly the same way then as it is now. One of the few differences is that all the leather then was hand-stitched; today machines play a bigger part."

The firm had a name change for a couple years before Ernie Trist started work. For a while it as known as Trist, Smith and Jarden. Smith and Jarden were well-known names in trotting circles in those days. Robert Smith was an American who had a great influence on trotting here, being the man responsible for the importation of sires like Jack Potts to NZ. Jarden was a well-known trotting writer of the time as well as a handicapper and judge. But the partnership did not last all that long. Trist bought the others out after a couple of years and shanged the the name back to Trist & Small.

From the time the business was established until just after the war, it was located next door to Tattersalls Horse Bazaar, in Cashel Street in the heart of Christchurch. Regular sales took place there every Friday as well as the more spectacular events like the annual yearling sales. The bazaar was run by the Matson family, a name which has very strong links with the industry in NZ. Allan Matson was one of its leaders in the 1950s, president when the NZ Trotting Association and Conference combined. Trist & Small's had Tattersall's Hotel, itself gone now, on the other side. "We used to reckon all we had to do was knock a hole in the wall whenever we wanted a beer," Ernie Trist recalled with a smile. He also has a wealth of tales about the fun and games which often took place on sale day, the day when dozens of horses and gigs would be lined up after bringing prospective buyers and interested onlookers to the auction.

Horses weren't the only animals to be put under the hammer at the bazaar. Occasionally bulls took everyone's attention. "The bull sale at show time seemed to be of interest to the whole town. Crowds thronged to it." Perhaps it was excitement the people wanted , the minor chaos created when occasionally a recalcitrant bull would put his hoof down and refuse to go into the ring. Ernie Trist remembers one particularly wild specimen actually getting away from the bazaar and careering through the streets of downtown Christchurch before being caught. But all this was in pre-World War II days.

During the war Ernie Trist seved in the Pacific before coming home and being pressed into service under the 'manpower' regulations. Essential industries got the manpower they needed to meet wartime requirements, industries like mining and butter and cheese. Ernie Trist, leather worker, put in for the latter only to be told by the Labour Department that there were no vacancies there and he'd have to go into the coal mines. "There was no way I was going down into the mines and I told them so; I eventually ended up in building industry working for my brother until the restrictions were lifted."

Still, he used to work at the old firm on Saturday morning keeping his hand in. His father had operated the business throughout the war. And even then he was hard pressed at times to keep up with the orders. "I remember getting one letter while I was overseas which said he had 21 sets of hopples on order and six set of harness. The difficulty in those days was getting materials, especially English leather. We have always imported a certain percentage of leather from England, especially for overchecks, reins and tie downs. Trade and Industries have tried to convince us we don't need to but we have proved to them otherwise. When it comes to races, you have got to do everything you can to alleviate breakages which could have disastrous consequences."

When Ernie Trist started with the firm again it had orders for thirty sets of harness and a hundred sets of hopples. There was a waiting list of a year sometimes. Even now clients sometimes have to wait. It takes one man at least 45 hours to make a set of leather harness. "And even then you can never get a whole day devoted completely to the one job," Laurie Trist, 26, explains. It took one man the same amount of time years ago. The harness man worked on the 'black bench'. Chris Owens worked on that exclusively for three of four years when he first joined Trist & Small. He remembers it well. Remembers getting his hands pretty dirty. Ernie Trist, too, remembers what it was like in the early days. "We were the popular jokers in the dance hall. Funny how that stuff is hell of a hard to wipe off your hands and yet it got so easily onto the girls dresses.

The gear's the same now as it was fifty or sixty years ago. There haven't been many radical changes. Only hopple shorteners. And the price, of course. Ernie Trist recalled easily the times when a set of best leather race harness could be bought for 13/10/- or a couple of pounds cheaper for a lesser set. Hopples wer five quineas or 4/15/-, depending on the quality. That was round about the end of the war. Today leather race harness costs close enough to $700, hopples $250. "You could get a good class stock saddle for 13/10/-, a reasonable one for 8/7/6. Now they're hundreds of dollars, too." Trist & Small these days don't make or sell saddles but they did in the old days. And this highlights, perhaps, one way the trade has changed over the years.

Now, any one of the three men at Trist & Small can make a set of harness - or all three can work on the one set to get a rush order through. Back then, the saddler made all the straps and things. No saddles though. The saddlehand made those. The collar makers made the collars. It seems there must have been a bit of a class system in operation then. "The collar makers had the toughest time. He would freeze in winter, have sweat poring off him in summer. His was really hard yakka. I think there is only one alive in the country today, but I don't think he's working," Ernie said. "We on the racing side of things were regarded as 'refined' gentlemen of the trade."

Plastics have revolutionised the industrybut the Trists are convinced that nothing will ever replacereal leather for it's wearing qualities, among other things. Ernie Trist brings up about that recent repair job on harness that must have been well over eighty years old and still going strong. "Plastic is cheaper and it's easier to keep clean. But leather is the best." And while leather might be the best, the three tradesmen working away at their benches agree, too, that the quality of tools they have to work with has deteriorated over the years. Laurie Trist thinks he knows why. "In those old times, makers knew exactly what the tools were going to be used for. Saddlers were big business then. Now there's a small demand for specialist equipment so sometimes it is not as good."

The business is no longer near what used to be Tattersalls Bazaar. That was sold after the war and Trist & Small moved around the corner into Mancester Street and widened its scope to deal also in fancy leather goods, suitcases and the likes. Ernie's father retired from the business in 1956. Renie took over. Ten years later, another move, this time to their present home, upstairs premises in the industrial section of St Asaph Street on the outskirts of the city centre. With the move came a parting of the ways from the fancy goods side of the business. That remained with new owners in Mancester Street. The Trists wanted to concentrate solely on trotting goods. It was also Ernie Trist's intention to concentrate on manufacturing and selling wholesale. "There was such a phenomenal demand for out stuff then; there were no plastics to compete with. We wanted to get away from the mainstream retail trade, but before very long customers approached us directly. And we couldn't turn down old customers so we have remained retailers."

Chris joined the company straight from school in 1969 and five years ago bought into the business. Laurie started during school holidays when he was about 13 but went psychiatric nursing for two and a half years on leaving school. He then worked as a builder's labourer, getting his ticket later as a drainlayer before getting into the business, too, in 1976. "Too cold in winter" was his reason for getting out of the drains. Noe the senior Trist regards himself as "just the boy about the place. I'm convinced now that lives go in a complete circle." He doesn't have to get the lunches but he is the official tea-maker. "Mainly because he makes the best brew," the others agree. The others are three. Besides the two younger men there is Sadie Scott in the office. That's the total staff. At times there have been more. But for the next few months, things begin to slaken off a little and the present lot will be able to cope.

The company has a regular spot around the stables at Addington every racenight where they keep a range of their wares. The deal also in all facets of trotting goods and, for instance, are the only manufacturers of toe weights in Australasia. "We don't see as many races as we would like to, but we do have time for the odd bet. None of them owns a horse although Ernie's father owned a pretty useful trotter in Duke Bingen who raced uccessfully in the 1920s. The old chap was also a president at one time of the Canterbury OTB.

The workshop syndicate can't rate itself as one of the most successful around, but then it probably doesn't follow a system workers down in the Cashel Street establishment followed, especially on Cup Day. "For years, we would put out money on the horse whose owner bought new gear from us for the big race. It worked year after year. Indianapolis had new harness for his first two wins and again for his third. They probably didn't need that but they weren't going to take the risk," Ernest Trist, now 64, explained. "There were horses like Red Shadow, Lucky Jack...and more recently Lord Module." The system did come unstuck once though. Therewere four in the race with new gear. "And that confused us. We didn't know which way to go."


Credit: Graham Ingram writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 10Mar81

 

YEAR: 1965

Reta Peter with Trainer-Driver A G Wilson
RETA PETER

She was only a slight little thing of 15.1 hands. She had found out a string of trainers before she pranced into a stall at Alf Wilson's New Brighton stable one fine day in the year 1919: but she earned a place among the square-gaited immortals by defeating fields of pacers two years in succession in the NZ Cup.

Do you have a youngster in your family who wants to know why we call our premier event the NZ Trotting Cup when trotters no longer appear in it; haven't for years, in fact? And are you, like us, sometimes left wondering what a marvel of trotting speed, solidity and staying power Reta Peter must have been?

To the moderns it sounds almost like a fairy tale; bewildering to the younger generation who now so rarely enjoy the exhilarating spectacle of a trotter competing successfully against any sort of pacers. Reta Peter won the NZ Cup in 1920 and 1921, and she is the only trotter with two NZ Cups to her credit.

The late A G Wilson trained and drove Reta Peter for both her successes in the premier event from his famous training establishment, 'Myosotis Lodge,' New Brighton. The story of Reta Peter is set down here in Alf's own words:

"I had just returned from World War I and was not keen on starting training horses again," said Wilson. "In fact I had decided to give it up. But it wasn't to be. Frank Robson came to me and begged me to take Reta Peter to train. I said I'd give her a trial. The first thing I did was to have a look at her feet; she had 8oz shoes in front and 4oz toe-weights and I realised her feet were just murdered by too much weight. I decided on 5oz bar shoes and threw her toe-weights out altogether. When the late Bernie Fanning first examined her feet for me he drew my attention to her weak heels, which opened right out. After I had got her shod to my liking I sent her a mile on the grass track at New Brighton and she went 2:14, real time in 1919, when she did it, and she did it on her own. I got her about 15 months before the 1920 Cup, and that trial decided me - I was still a trainer."

"And she stood to me like the beauty she was; she won three two-mile events against horses of her own gait the first season I raced her. She was six then and already a champion. I remember one day she was giving away 16 seconds - they were handicapped by the bell then - and she was in front at the end of half a mile. Jack McLennan was driving one of the front horses and when Reta Peter passed him so early he shouted out to me, 'Where the hell did you come from'?"

"I realised I had something phenomenal in Reta Peter. I felt confident I could beat the best of the pacers and we thereupon set our caps at the NZ Cup," continued Wilson. "Reta Peter continued to increase our confidence. She did everything I asked of her, and more, and as the big day drew nearer I told everybody I would win. But most of them laughed. They couldn't imagine a trotter, something of a cast-off before she came to my stable, beating the pacers in the Cup."

"It certainly looked a tall order with Author Dillon in the field, but I never had any doubts about the result. Now I will try to go over the race for you again. She was on 9 seconds (the limit under modern handicaps)and began well for a trotter. She was in the middle of the field early. The last time round she was about seventh. She moved up for me at the half, and at the quarter post she came round wide out and won without being knocked about by the best part of a length from General Link and Author Dillon. The backmarker was Author Dillon, and Reta Peter's 4:30 2/5, forced him to go 4:21 4/5, a record for many years. When Author Dillon passed me with half a mile to go his driver, Ben Jarden, turned his head and said: 'Goodbye, Alf.' I replied: 'I'll see you later,' and sure enough, I did," chuckled Alf.

"The following season Reta Peter had no opportunity of a race before the Cup. She had been pin-fired in the meantime and I had to go very carefully with her. For her second Cup - 1921 - the limit was 4:32 and she was on the same mark as Sherwood, 7 seconds. Others in the field included Man O' War, 2 seconds; Albert Cling, 3 seconds; General Link, 6 seconds; Trix Pointer 6 seconds and John Dillon, 7 seconds. There were two false starts and she was first out in both of these. Eventually she got away well. With a round to go she ran up behind the leaders, Vice Admiral and Gleaming. Dil Edwards om Vice Admiral turned round and said to Bill Warren on Gleaming: 'Go on, Bill, here comes the bloody trotter.' She had he skin taken off both her front legs in the last half-mile and after finishing second to Sherwood she was given the race after an inquiry into Sherwood crossing her. I want you to put it on record for the benefit of those who don't know the full story that I didn't enter a protest against Sherwood. The Stipendiary Steward, Mr Mabee, took it up himself. Mr Robson showed Mr Mabee the mare's bleeding legs, and it was the 'stipe' who took up the case," asserted Wilson.

The NZ Trotting Register has the following: "Sherwood finished two lengths in front of Reta Peter, with Vice Admiral two lengths away third and Willie Lincoln a length and a half further back fourth. Sherwood, 4:29, Reta Peter, 4:29 1/5, Vice Admiral, 4:31. A protest was lodged by the owner of Reta Peter (F H Robson) against Sherwood for crossing Reta Peter in the straight. After consideration the stewards upheld the protest, placing Reta Peter first and Sherwood second and fining F G Holmes, driver of Sherwood, 25." This incident is still hotly debated by people who saw the race.

It was about this time that the bell system of starting gave way to the yards system and the standing start. Reta Peter's two-mile mark in the August Handicap, of 1922, a 4:34 class, was 60 yards; or 4:29. A third Cup victory was considered within her powers by Wilson, who related how well she was going in her training until a few days beforehand. "She actually broke down four or five days before the Cup," said Wilson. "She went behind, and there was no chance of mending her again. One of the most relieved men was Nelson Price, trainer of Agathos. Not that he wished Reta Peter any harm; but he rang me up and said his chances had improved since Reta Peter had gone out. He added that Reta Peter was the only one he was afraid of. Agathos duly won and only had to go 4:33 2/5 on a good track, so it certainly looked as though Reta would have been hard to beat again," said Wilson.

Alf describes Reta Peter as "Just a little slight thing, 15.1 hands." He remarked that she did not put up phenomenal times because she did not have to. He claims she trotted her last quarter of her first NZ Cup in 29 seconds, and that under the present system of handicapping she would have won a great fortune and improved her record by several seconds. "She had a lovely temperament," he said. "My grand-daughter used to brush her hind legs and was never in the slightest danger. She was a perfect and a treat to do anything with. Some idea of her quality will be given by the fact that the night before her first Cup I was entertaining some of my friends, including A J McFlinn, the well-known steeplechase jockey. When I showed him Reta Peter he said: 'Put a saddle on her, Alf, and she would not be out of place in the galloping Cup field.' She certainly had great quality and refinement for a trotter." added Wilson.

"You don't see many American sulkies on the racetracks today," remarked Wilson. "Reta Peter raced in a real American sulky, which is pounds lighter than most of the so-called speed carts in use here today. I contend the American sulky, which sits feet closer to the horse than a speed cart, is seconds faster. To begin with, the weight of the driver is not a dead drag or dead weight as in the speed cart. The weight of the driver in the sulky actually pushes the the cart under the horse, so to speak. The speed cart has to be pulled all the way, but the centre of gravity with an American sulky is actually forward of the driver's seat. That's the best explanation of the difference between the sulky and the speed cart I can give you. I hope it's fairly clear, because I think it's most important. I've taken particular notice of many good horses racing in speed carts of recent years and I feel more and more convinced that these carts are a dead drag on the shoulder or mouth of a horse."

"I do think that our best horses would improve up to 2 seconds on their times if they were trained and driven in American sulkies," continued Alf. "At the same time, I'm well aware of why the sulky went out of favour - the sulky, being a forward-weighted vehicle with it's centre of balance in front of the driver, frequently went underneath a horse when the horses reared at the start. There was a lot of this with sulkies. Speed carts do not run under a horse so easily, which is probably one of the main reasons why they have almost pushed the American sulky off the racetrack. The standing start also had a lot to do with this change. Under the old clock system of starting, horses were constantly on the move, and there was little fear of a horse rearing and over-balancing. The standing start altered all that and made the speed cart a safer vehicle for horses having to line up at the barrier. For all that, I think our champions would be able to do a lot better in American sulkies."


Credit: 'Ribbonwood' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 3Nov65

 

YEAR: 1964

EARLY SULKY DEVELOPMENTS

Recently the writer paid a visit to Bryant & Co's workshop in Dalgaty Street, Christchurch, in search of information on early sulkies. The above firm is now carried on by Mr W B(Bill) Cooper, and his son Russell.

Mr Cooper was unable to clear up the question as to who used the first real sulky in a race, but old records of the firm, dating back to 1890, show who were the first men to use the first sulkies manufactured by Bryant & Co. In 1890 the firm built the first high-wheeled sulky used in Christchurch. This vehicle had four-foot diameter wheels with solid iron tyres. A similar cart, of the same design, but with heavier wheels, was used for racing by Mr H('Soda Water') Mace in 1890. A Mr H Reece also used the same type of cart. In 1892 Mr J G Grigg, of Longbeach, purchased a high-wheel sulky. He bred many trotters from the imported mare Jeanie Tracey. A Mr Lascelles and a Mr McLean, of Hawkes Bay, were also the owners of this build of sulky about the same time as the Longbeach owner.

The first pneumatic tyred sulky built by Bryant & Co appeared in 1893, and it was owned by a Mr Jack McGregor. This cart was somewhat similar in design to the ones used today, the main difference being that the seat was set much higher. The hubs for this sulky were imported from America, and the wheel was built around the hub. The spokes and rim were made of wood, and the pnuematic tyre - tubeless - was bolted onto the rim. In 1894, Bert Edwards purchased one of these Sulkies from Bryant & Co, and no doubt he used it for racing, as also did M(Manny) Edwards who ordered on the same year.
A horse called General Tracey, who set a three miles record of 8min 15 1/2 secs back in the 1890s, pulled a sulky of this type.

These are only a few of the names of the earlier school of owners, trainers and breeders which appear in the records of the firm. Bryant & Co built carts of all types, and many of the high wheeled carts were only put to private use. However many of them were pulled by high-spirited trotters, and the owners were not averse to challenging one another in trials of speed on the roads.

During the 1920s - earlier and later - the wide, short-shafted American type of sulky made it's appearance, and all of these were not imported from America. Bryant & Co built a number of this design, but as fields increased in size, the wide sulky went out of favour. The last time the writer saw one on a racetrack was when the trotter When went against time at Rangiora just before her departure for America. The vehicles used almost universally in NZ today - for years past for that matter - are traditionally known as speed carts.

The firm of Bryant & Co was established in 1872, in Papanui Road, Christchurch: "fine carriages, dog carts, gigs, pagnal carts and racing sulkies" were among the special merchandise built by the 'old firm'. Records kept by Bryants from the eariest days embrace, over more than 70 years of production, such well known names as Bert Edwards, Manny Edwards, Jack McGregor, Andy Pringle, W J Doyle Snr, Geo Murfitt, A Kerr, H W Kitchingham, Alf Wilson, Free Holmes, Thos Roe, Dave Price, Ben Jarden, W J Morland, James Bryce, Tom Fox, Roy Berry, J J Kennerley, W J Tomkinson and D A Withers. There are legions more.

Credit: 'Irvington' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 29Apr64

 

YEAR: 1963

FINAL MEETING AT NEW BRIGHTON

The New Brighton course would now become Queen Elizabeth II Park and in 20 years time or so it could develop into the Hagley Park of the seaside suburb, said the Deputy Mayor of Christchurch (Councillor H P Smith) who was speaking at the closing ceremony of the club at its final meeting on its own course on Saturday. Cr. Smith said the New Brighton Club's gesture in offering the property to the City Council at much below the sub-divisional value was a magnificent one. The 'City Fathers' would be 'just as jealous of every square yard of it' as they were of Hagley Park, he continued. People would be able to enjoy recreation on the new park "for time immemorial".

The crowd of nearly 10,000 which attended on Saturday far exceeded expectations, and the 104,625 handled by the totalisator on-course was 32,000 more than last year. The main event, the A E Laing Handicap, carried a 50 trophy presented by Mr Laing, a former president who has been in hospital for some weeks. Five other presidents are still active officers of the club and races were named after them on Saturday's programme. They are Messrs W E Desmond, O Hutchinson, A G Jamieson, A McDonald and S J Moore.

Mr W F Stark, the president, in introducing the Deputy Mayor, thanked the public for their generous support in the past and extended to all a warm welcome to the club's future meetings at Addington. Queen Elizabeth II Park would be "real value for posterity" he said , and he was thankful that sub-division of such a fine place had been avoided. Officers of the club gathered in the birdcage for the ceremony, at which 'Now Is The Hour' and 'Auld Lang Syne' were sung.

A long list of champions, notable among them Wildwood Junior, Reta Peter, Adelaide Direct, Willie Lincoln, Agathos, Onyx, Peter Bingen, Great Bingen, Harold Logan and Josedale Grattan, were trained, at one time or another, on the New Brighton track. Between 25 to 40 years ago New Brighton was one of the busiest training centres in NZ, and trackwork was covered by the Christchurch daily papers - particularly when there were two morning and two evening papers - just as fully and prominently as the training activities at Addington.

Back in the late 1920s J N (Jim) Clarke trained a large team from Brooklyn Lodge (now occupied by George Cameron), and Peter Bingen, Great Bingen and Willie Lincoln were among the horses who occupied stalls in his stable. Contemporaries of Jim Clarke who come readily to mind included A J (Alf) Wilson, who trained and drove Reta Peter, twice winner of the NZ Cup; W (Bill) Warren, N L (Nelson) Price, J D (Doug) Smith, H (Harry) Frost, H(Harry) Aker, G (George) Robinson, A E (Arthur) Bussell and E R (Ernie) Husband.

Much earlier, the brothers W (Bill) and C (Charlie) Kerr, won renown with Wildwood Junior, Admiral Wood and others; M (Manny) Edwards took Adelaide Direct to the top; C Channing's Agathos was among the top flight of pacers in the early 1920s and Onyx, trained by J (Jack) Messervy, was the champion mare of the Dominion about the same period. Much later Pot Luck, trained by his owner H (Bert) Stafford, was a headline pacer trained at New Brighton, and F J ('Wizard') Smith used to quarter his team there on his regular visits to Christchurch meetings - Josedale Grattan and Nell Volo were among his great ones who had their final trials ay Brighton before important wins at Addington. W ('Tiger') Barron, was a prominent seaside trainer of over 30 years ago with horses owned by Mr D Rodgers.

There were others, many of them: the Jardens, the younger Kerrs and Smiths and Messervys, R (Dick) Motz and his son Arnold, E F C (Ernie) Hinds, D (Dan) Mahoney, E (Ernie) Hawtin, T H (Tom) Gleeson, G L (George) Mitchell, L C (Lester) Frost, F R (Fred) May, L (Lester) Davidson; and coming right down to the present day G (George) Cameron and A (Alf) Rhodes are among those still holding the fort along with A Richards, A Kendall, G Tisch, A L Mugford, W Ireland and a few others.

New Brighton at one time was as fast as any track in the country - Happy Voyage's 2.04 1/5, which stood as the NZ and Australian mile record for a season, was established on the track in 1923. In 1925 the champion mare Onyx, a lovely piece of horseflesh, went 3.13 against time for a mile and a half, which stood as a NZ and Australian record for a number of years. And on more than one occasion the peerless Harold Logan broke records from long handicap marks there - his 2.36 3/5 in winning the mile and a quarter Avon Handicap from away back on 84 yards (then a 'world's winning race record') will live on in the writer's memory as one of the greatest displays of good manners, brilliance and courage ever seen anywhere.

According to the late F C Thomas, a well-informed trotting historian of the early days, New Brighton is one of the oldest courses in NZ used solely for trotting meetings, and it is now more than 90 years since the first trotting event was held in the district. The New Brighton Club did not exist in those early days and was not formed until about 1890. For some time before that the New Brighton Racing Club held trotting meetings and mixed galloping and trotting meetings on the course. The New Brighton Trotting Club did not hold it's first meeting until 1895, when 190 was paid in stakes and totalisator turnover amounted to 1648.

Anyone prepared to dispute this statement is referred to the NZ Turf Register, 1894-95, which details the "New Brighton TC Inaugural" meeting, Saturday, March 16, 1895, "weather fine, going rough". The first race was won by J Gallagher's Swinton by "300 yards" in 6.01 for two miles. The mile Dash Handicap and the two miles Avon Handicap went to T Walker's Mistake in 2.54 and 5.54 1/2 respectively. The New Brighton Handicap, run over two miles in saddle, was won by H Mace's FB in 5.34. Other winners were J P Martin's Toby II(two races) J Barrett's Lily, and W Kerr's Felix.

The property was at that time owned by Mr Henry Mace, who with the club's first president (Mr H McIlwraith) and secretary (Mr A I Rattray) first gained Government recognition of trotting through the old NZ Trotting Association, which had been formed in Christchurch in 1888. On the death of Mr Mace in 1902, the course became the property of Mr H Button, who had a stud and trained thoroughbreds from the Brooklyn Lodge stables. The club continued to prosper and bought about half the present block containing the track from Mr Button in 1909, the same year in which the club's first course superintendent (Mr R Davidson) was appointed. Mr Davidson's son, L Davidson, has trained horses on the New Brighton course until recent months.

The course was very rough in the early days, but it gradually improved under Mr Davidson's care until he retired in 1924. He was succeeded by Mr W Stevenson, whose son, Mr T Stevenson took over in 1936. Mr T Stevenson will complete 27 years as course superintendent on September 27, and will remain on the course when the Christchurch City Council takes over on October 1.

The club did not secure the remainder of the property until the early 1930s.

-o0o-

Vanderford had to be good to win the A E Laing Handicap. He made his usual fast beginning and was quickly up near the leaders. Vanderford followed Kingsdown Patch, one out, till rounding the turn into the straight. At that stage Kingsdown Patch could do no better, and it appeared as though Vanderford's driver, M Holmes, was forced to make a forward move earlier than he would have liked. Vanderford had to race very wide turning for home, but shaken up a little, he soon collared the leaders, and once he did the result was in safe keeping. Vanderford won going away by a length, to record his fifth success on end, and his fourth for the season. He now requires only one distance win to become eligible for the NZ Cup. Rustic Lad was second, Flying Blue third and Avante fourth.

-o0o-

To the consistent Master Alan went the honour of winning the last race on the New Brighton course, and his success was a popular one. Earlier in the season Master Alan had been runner-up to Cardigan Bay at Hutt Park and second to Doctor Dan at New Brighton a fortnight ago. Master Alan raced in about the middle of the field until the turn and joined the leaders about the furlong. Master Alan responded in grand style to record 2.08 4/5, the last half being run by the leaders in 1.02 4/5, the final quarter in 31 2/5 secs, on a track which was not fast. Junior Royal paced a little roughly early in the race and was doing his best work in the concluding stages. Robin Dundee paced a sound race and made up ground for third. Doctor Dan was next, followed by Lordship, who had every chance. He is obviouslt not at his best.


Credit: 'Ribbonwood' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 25Sep63

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