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When a member of the present generation of the Jacobson family writes a further volume of "Tales of Banks Peninsula," many of us will be disappointed if we do not find between the covers a whole chapter devoted to those inseperables, the late Etienne Le Lievre and Berthabell.
In a previous issue of the Calendar we were glad to concede that Akaroa is famous for its cheese, its cocksfoot, its serene loveliness; that it is also renowned as the original nursery of all the beautiful weeping-willow trees that adorn the banks of the Avon.
But when we reminded you that perhaps Akaroa has a greater claim to your particular interest because here Etienne Le Lievre, who inherited his love of horses from his French pioneering father, Francois, installed Berthabell as the grand dame of his already famous "Oinako" stud.
Berthabell's name as a producer will ever remain imperishable. This blood-like mare was foaled in 1909, and in 1913 she had a filly by Bingen, which accompanied her to New Zealand when she was imported from America by Etienne Le Lievre in 1914. She had been stinted to The Harvester, 2.01, and on arrival in New Zealand she foaled a colt, which unfortunately died.
An impression existed for many years that Berthabell did not race in New Zealand, and this idea was probably firmly implanted in the minds of some people by the fact that she was bred from before she came to this country, and is shown in the Stud Book as produced for the next three years after her arrival here; but she managed to edge in a racing career somehow, and in her only five starts she was three times in the money. A pacer, she finished third in the Amateur Handicap at the South Canterbury Trotting Club's meeting in July, 1915, and at New Brighton the same year she finished second to Sinoda over a mile and a half in the Innovation Handicap, the winners time being 3.40 1-5. She also finished second to Sweet Agnes in the Telegraph Handicap of one mile at the Canterbury Park New Year meeting of 1916. The winner's time was 2.22, and as Berthabell started from the same mark as Sweet Agnes, and finished within two lengths of her, it is obvious that Berthabell must has registered at least 2.23, this when she was probably in foal, because the Stud Book shows that in the same year she foaled twins to Nelson Bingen, both of which died.
Is it any wonder, in view of these facts, that such a mare bred a line of champions when she was eventually allowed to retire to the matron's paddock? She found a ready affinity with the sire Nelson Bingen, for to him she left Great Bingen, Worthy Bingen, Peter Bingen, Bessie Bingen, Bertha Bingen, Great Peter, Baron Bingen and Great Nelson, all winners. To other sires she left Great Parrish and Corona Bell (by Guy Parrish), and Ringtrue (by Travis Axworthy).
The progeny of the great mare earned £35,535 in stakes, as follows:-
Great Bingen £14,120 including Australian winnings, Peter Bingen £8,629, Great Parrish £3,317½, Great Peter £2,850, Ringtrue £2,029, Baron Bingen 1,475, Great Nelson £898½, Worthy Bingen £691, Bessie Bingen £215, Corona Bell £175, Bertha Bingen £135.
None of the sons of Berthabell has proved an outstanding success as a sire, but six of them have got winners, namely, Worthy Bingen, Great Bingen, Peter Bingen, Great Nelson, Great Parrish and Ringtrue. Great Nelson's siring merit hangs on a very slender thread, as he left only one very moderate winner, but all the others have sired several winners. Of them all, the siring palm goes to Worthy Bingen, who was a fine trotter, and got Worthy Queen, whose records of 2.03 3-5 for a mile against time, and 3.14 1-5 for a mile and a half in a race still stand. The best horse left by Peter Bingen is Peter Smith, a Free-For-All winner with records of 2.36 for a mile and a quarter, 3.11 2-5 for a mile and a half and 4.15 for two miles. He was a big stake-winner, just fractionally removed from being a champion.
Great Bingen has been represented by several Classic winners including Taxpayer, Refund, Double Great and Great News. To date Taxpayer is probably the best horse he has sired, though Dark Hazard was a bigger stake-earner and a winner of good races at both gaits, while Karangi and Pre-Eminence are two present-day pacers by Great Bingen who should extend their records. Great Parrish has sired winners of both gaits in Auckland, and one of his best to date is Bold Venture, who finished second in an Auckland Cup, and took a two-mile record of 4.19 3-5.
Ringtrue is the sire of a high-class pacer in Parshall, winner of the last Auckland Free-For-All, besides being placed in Cup company at Addington. Parshall has records of 3.13 2-5 for a mile and a half (winning) and 4.15 4-5 for two miles, and will be a competitor in the next NZ Trotting Cup. Other winners left by Ringtrue included the trotter Paiahua, one of the comparatively few to beat the pacers.
Great Peter and Baron Bingen were other sons of Berthabell who at one time gave promise of reaching the best class. Great Peter won the Great Northern Derby, Champion Handicap (Addington) and other races, but he died as a seven-year-old when shaping like a Cup horse. Baron Bingen, who probably had as much speed as any member of the family, was a very excitable horse, and eventually became so temperamental that he was gelded late in life and eventually had to be given up as a racing proposition.
Berthabell's daughters were not a patch on her sons as racehorses. Bell Bingen, of course, was injured on her way out from America, and did not race, but the later fillies, Bessie Bingen, Bertha Bingen, Bell Nelson and Corona Bell never threatened to break any records. The best racemares among them were probably Bessie Bingen and Corona Bell, both trotters. Bertha Bingen won races as a pacer.
Bell Bingen has already established a good family of her own. She left Huia Bird, Mavis Bingen, Belle Axworthy, Parrish Belle, Pearl Parrish and Young Travis, all winners, besides Bertha Dillon, Bingen Bell, Sonoma Bell, Lambeth Walk and Paua Bay. Mavis Bingen's branch of the family has been quite a successful one. Her progeny were Cyone, 4.27 2-5, a good winner; Policy, 3.18 1-5, who also won several races; Range Finder, one of out best trotters of today; and Sonora. Cyone has already produced five winners - Toceetie, 2.40 1-5; Cyone Girl, 3.20 3-5; Cyone Maid, 3.27 2-5; and Manonee, 3.30 4-5. Toceetie is now at Mr E Tatlow's stud in Tasmania. Sonara has not fared so well. Of her seven foals, two died, and none of the other five so much as got to the races. But one of her daughters is now being bred from, and may revive the line, as so often happens.
Bertha Dillon produced only one foal, a colt named Jack Parrish, who did not amount to anything; there is no record of Bingen Bell having produced at all, but Sonoma Bell is the dam of a useful winner in Surprise Potts.
Belle Axworthy, herself a good winner, looks like being a real success as a brood mare, for already she is the dam of Modest Maid, one of the best trottters in Auckland at the present time, and Young Pointer, who won races and ended up with a mile and a quarter record of 2.44 3-5. Belle Axworthy's later progeny include two by Indianapolis.
Pearl Parrish has produced Pearl Scott and Pearloro, 2.50 2-5, but there is no record of Parrish Belle, who at one time held a mile and a quarter trotting record of 2.46 3-5, having produced anything. She was a nice trotter.
Bessie Bingen's first foal was Bessie Parrish, 3.19, a good trotter who reached high-class company. Then followed Lady Bunker, a winner at the trotting gait, and Contender, who won the Great Northern Stakes and Great Northern Derby. Bessie Bingen was still breeding up to 1942, her last two foals being by Worthy Belwin(imp).
Bertha Bingen is the dam of Iolaire, Endurance, Self (winner of several races. Queen Bertha, 3.31 4-5, and Opportunity, 2.52 3-5. She had no foals after 1934.
Berthabell's later daughters, Bell Nelson and Corona Bell, may have produced, but the Stud Book authorities have received no advice of it if they have. Every now and then the name of Berthabell comes to the top. The latest promising member of the "Oinako" mare's household is Karangi, a son of Great Bingen.
Credit: 'Ribbonwood' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 18 Oct 44
YEAR: 1984ETIENNE LE LIEVRE
In 1836 a French whaling boat sailed in and around the bays of Banks Peninsula and dropped anchor at the sight which probably impressed those aboard most...Akaroa. The French whalers stayed for several months and one of them, Francois Le Lievre must have been particularly pleased with what he saw, because a year later he was among 63 passengers on board the Comp de Paris, the first settlers' boat from France.
Francois set about establishing the most successful farm on Banks Peninsula and marrying Rose de Malmanche, who had also arrived on the Comp de Paris. Francois and Rose raised several children, but it was Etienne who inherited his father's love of the land, and it's horses. Etienne, who was born in 1854, was brought up in the days when the horse was mainly the mode of transport. His family regularly travelled the miles to the flatter land of Little River, where at picnic gatherings each farmer would bring his fastest horses to race. Naturally, Etienne followed with interest the progress of trotting in town, Christchurch, which by the turn of the century was going ahead in leaps and bounds.
It was obvious at the time that the early importations from America, the likes of Berlin, Childe Harold, Irvington, Vancleve and Wildwood, and mares like Jeanie Tracey and Woodburn Maid were responsible for considerable improvement in the local breed.
Having inherited the largest and most successful sheep farm on Banks Peninsula some years earlier, Etienne had the resources and time to make some excursions in this field himself, and in 1904 he began the long trip to California in search of quality young horses. In the company of Robert McMillan, a highly respected young American horseman who had been living at Halswell in Christchurch, Etienne returned to New Zealand with a yearling colt by Sydney Dillon, a six-year-old entire called Wallace L and a five-year-old mare in Muriel Madison, while McMillan was credited with purchasing the stallion Mauritius and the mare Miss Youngley.
The colt by Sydney Dillon, the sire of the first 2:00 trotter Lou Dillon (1:58.5), was Harold Dillon, NZ's champion sire for five years between 1916-17 and 1920-21. Harold Dillon sired some 190 winners including the public idol Author Dillon (1918 NZ Cup), as well as Waitaki Girl, John Dillon, Oinako, Sungod and Adonis, all among the best pacers of the day. Well over 200 winners came from Harold Dillon mares including Pot Luck, Parisienne, Glenrossie and Dilworth. Wallace L was only moderately successful at stud while Muriel Madison founded a very successful family, to which over 160 winners trace,including No Response and Koala King. Mauritius was exported to Australia in 1907 and wound up leaving around 120 winners while Miss Youngley was the granddam of 1923 NZ Cup winner Great Hope and is the ancestress of close to 100 winners.
In 1913, Etienne went back to California and purchased a two-year-old colt by Bingen called Nelson Bingen and three young mares, one of which was Berthabell. Stinted almost entirely over the years to Nelson Bingen, the leading sire here for two seasons, Berthabell was to prove one of the most remarkable broodmares in the history of standardbred breeding in NZ, and the founder of one of our largest maternal families. Belita and Belle Bingen were the other mares. Belle Bingen had been bred fron Berthabell in America in 1913, being by Bingen, and had arrived with her dam in 1914. Belle Bingen was crippled on the journey to New Zealand, however, and was put in foal as a two-year-old.
Berthabell had been in foal to The Harvester during the trip but upon returning to Akaroa the resulting foal lived only a few days. Etienne's poor luck was to continue, as in 1916 Berthabell foaled dead twins by Nelson Bingen. Then, the following year, Berthabell produced a colt to Nelson Bingen, the first of eight consecutive foals by the son of Bingen and eight consecutive winners. Worthy Bingen was unsound and very lightly raced as a trotter, starting 13 times over 4 seasons for four wins. Lightly patronised at stud, he sired 33 winners, including the champion trotting mare, Worthy Queen.
Then came the champion Great Bingen. Raced by Sir John McKenzie and Dan Glanville, who bought him from Etienne as a two-year-old for £400, Great Bingen won £14,920, a stakes winning record for several years. In NZ he raced 73 times for 22 wins and 26 placings, while he also contested the Australian Championship, the forerunner to the Inter-Dominions, in Perth in 1926, recording four wins before being just beaten by Taraire in the final. While Great Bingen was the best pacer during the late 1920s, his younger brother Peter Bingen was also acquitting himself well in the tightest class. As a nine-year-old, starting from 48yds, Great Bingen was just beaten by Peter Bingen in the NZ Cup, the first of two wins in the event for Peter Bingen. Peter Bingen raced 87 times for 16 wins and 24 placings, for stakes worth £8629, a little more than half Great Bingen's earnings. Great Bingen later sired 46 winners, including Double Great (1935 NZ Derby) and Taxpayer (1932 Sapling Stakes, NZ Derby), while Peter Bingen sried 45, including top pacers Peter Smith, Double Peter and King's Play.
After them came the fillies Bessie Bingen and Bertha Bingen, who were lightly raced as pacers, each winning twice. Great Peter (eight wins, GN Derby), Baron Bingen (seven wins) and the trotter Great Nelson (five wins) completed the remarkable record of Nelson Bingen and Berthabell. Mated with Guy Parrish, Berthabell left the leading northern pacer Great Parrish, who won 14 races and £3317, taking the 1929 Great Northern Derby and 1932 Auckland Cup. He sired 41 winners. Sent back to Nelson Bingen in 1927, Berthabell left the filly Bell Nelson, who was unraced. The Guy Parrish filly Corona Bell followed, winning once as a trotter.
Travis Axworthy, whom Etienne had imported in 1924 along with Guy Parrish, was the sire of Berthabell's 1930 foal, the colt Ring True. Raced from age three until 11 in the north, Ring True won nine races and £2029, and later sired 46 winners. Ring True had his last start on February 14, 1942, 21 years and one week after the first of Berthabell's progeny, Worthy Bingen, made his debut, finishing third in the 1921 NZ Trotting Stakes at Forbury Park.
The 11 winning progeny of Berthabell had won 94 races and stakes worth £35,335, a figure by today's standards that would run well into the millions.
Credit: Frank Marrion writing in NZ Trot Calendar 11Sep84
BERTHABELL(1909 Peter The Great-Corona Mack). Dam Corona Mack was by Wilkes Boy(sire of Grattan, great Canadian family) with her third dam being the founding mare of USA family Kate by Highland Chief; placed as a pacer, $111; 16 foals, 11 winners. Breeder: C G Thompson, Kentucky, USA. Imported by and all her foals bred by E X (Etienne) Le Lievre, Akaroa(Oinako Stud).
The immortal trotting broodmare, Berthabell, was foaled in North America and was imported to NZ by Etienne Le Lievre in 1914 together with a filly foal by Bingen(Bell Bingen) and in foal to The Harvester whose colt foal died within days of birth. Imported at the same time was Nelson Bingen who went on to be a leading stallion. Le Lievre successfully imported from North America a number of sires including Harold Dillon, Wallace L, Great Audubon, Guy Parrish, Travis Axworthy and many mares apart from Berthabell(Miss Spear, Muriel Madison, Grattanette, Solon Gazella).
Berthabell raced as a pacer on five occasions producing three placings(two seconds and the third). Berthabell's female progeny included six daughters all of whom bred on leaving large families. It is only possible to provide a subjective snapshot of some of the better performers.
Bell Bingen was her first, foaled in North America and crippled when shipped to New Zealand with her dam. She did not race but produced many foals most of them were female, including Belita: grand dam of Au Fait(Trotting Stakes-three, Dominion Hcp) and sister Precocious(ID Trotting Final, Dominion Hcp, NZ Trotting FFA), 5th dam of Admiral Holliday(VIC Derby, Golden Nugget);Mavis Bingen: 4th dam of Spry(NZ/Kaikoura Cups) and Berkleigh(NZ Derby, Ashburton Cup), family of iron horse, Ldle Scott(219 starts-46 wins[36 at Alexandra Park}/75 placings $1/2m, Rowe Cup, National Trot twice, NZ Trotting FFA, Trotter of the Year, NZ Hall of Fame), Tip Your Hat(Qld Derby); Mavis De Oro: Kotare Knight, Deep Court, Henschke(SA Derby); Cyone: left a son of Logan Derby in Vodka(Dominion Hcp, NZ Trotting FFA, first Australasian winner in North America, NZ Hall of Fame), Mi Coconut(VIC Queen of Pacific), Die Wondering(NSW SS-2f); Parrish Belle(Rowe Cup); Young Travis(Westport Cup).
Bell Nelson, unraced, was the 4th dam of top performer Our Mana(Easter Cup, twice second in NZ Cup/second AK Cup) and a good mile performer(NZ Flying Mile, Down Under Miler/Waikato Flying Miles twice). He was the winner of the inaugural $10,000 West Coast bonus for winning three races on the Christmas circuit. Bertha Bingen, was the winner of two pacing races at Wanganui and grand dam of Indomitable(Rowe Cup). Bessie Bingen, twice a winner whose major credits were Contender(GN Stakes-2, GN Derby) and trotter Bessie Parrish. Corona Bell, winner of one trotting race when raced as a four- to eight-year-old, left Hopeful(Taranaki Cup). Bertha Parrish, Berthabell's final foal, was dam of Sea Gypsy who left NZ Cup winner Our Roger(Louisson Hcp, Ashburton Flying Stakes).
From Berthabell's female branch of the Kate family have come three winners of the Rowe Cup - 1937 Parrish Belle, 1950 Indomitable and 1990 Idle Scott.
Many of Berthabell's male progeny were successful in the breeding shed. Great Parrish(Guy Parrish) raced from a two-until a ten-year-old and was the winner of 14 races including two as a two-year-old (Hawkes Bay), GN Derby and an Auckland Cup at six, the latter two wins for J.T.(Jim) Paul. His 41 winners included Otahuhu Cup winner Parrish Lad, Bonniedene(GN Derby), Bold Venture(AK Cup trial, 2nd AK Cup) and damsire of Indian Parrish(Rowe Cup), champion Australian mare Angelique(VIC Oaks, SA Cup), Gold Horizon(NZ Trotting FFA and NZ Hambletonian twice), Pleasant Smile(Otahuhu Cup). Ringtrue(Travis Axworthy), was the winner of ten races(Five as a three-year-old), nine of which were at Alexandra Park and FPTC's, sire of 46 winners(Parshall) including 21 pacers in Australia having stood at Inverell(NSW) in early 1950's.
Berthabelle produced six brothers by Nelson Bingen who finished top of the sires list in 1928-29 and 1929-30, was five times placed and left 219 winners with stake earnings approaching £191,000. The one gelded son was trotter Great Nelson whose five wins were spread over 6 seasons including NZ Sires Produce - 3T at Forbury Park.
Her siring sons were led by Great Bingen, a high class pacer whose 26 wins(22 NZ, four AUS)including a NZFFA, Australian Championships(four wins, beaten by Taraire in final), Dunedin and Exhibition Cups at Forbury, Christchurch and New Brighton Hcps. He won the York Hcp(108 yards behind) at New Brighton before the Duke of York,(later to become King George VI). He was placed second twice in NZ Cups, fourth on one occasion as well as twice fourth in Auckland Cups, often from lengthy marks. During his career, Great Bingen won six Free-For-Alls. His 2:07.6 placed him among the first hundred NZ horses in 2:10 and in finishing third over two miles in 4:19.8(108 yards) at Alexandra Park, he was the first horse outside America to go under 4:20. Great Bingen was leading stake earner in 1925/6(£4,015) and his total stake winnings of £14,120 stood as a record for 17 years.
Great Bingen was the first stallion to stand stud duties for Sir John McKenzie leaving 46 winners including Taxpayer/Double Great(NZ Derby), Refund/Great News(Welligton Stakes - 3) and dual gaited Dark Hazard. His broodmare sire credits included Bintravis(WA Cup), Bonnidene(GN Derby), Powerful Lady(NZ Oaks), Tapuwae(Rowe Cup) and Crocus, grand dam of Sole Command(NZ/AK Cups, Horse of Year). Great Bingen died in May 1945 in his 26th year at Roydon Lodge.
Peter Bingen started his career as a trotter which included a second in the NZ Trotting Stakes - 3. He became a high class pacer, his 16 wins including consecutive NZ Cups and a NZFFA(three times second), National Cup and Canterbury Hcps. He was also placed second in an Auckland Cup and a division of NZ Cup. His 2:07.0 placed him among the first hundred NZ horses in 2:10.
Hid 45 winners included three time Otahuhu Cup winner Double Peter, Peter Smith (FFA/big stake winner), Peters Find (GN Derby) and damsire of NZ Derby winner Single Medoro. Worthy Bingen, recorded four wins in his three seasons of racing. The sire of 33 winners of whom 21 were trotters, he was rated the best sire of the brothers by journalist Karl Scott. He sired Worthy Queen whose T2:03.6TT(took 5.4 seconds off previous record) set in 1934 stood as a NZ Trotters mile record for 28 years and Tan John(Dominion Hcp). Great Peter had three wins as a three-year-old including GN Derby and the final running of the Champion Stakes at Addington in 1927 before its transfer to Ashburton. He won again at Auckland at both four and five before his final three victories(eight in total) came as a six-year-old during the Auckland Summer carnival. He retired after being unplaced at seventh but died shortly thereafter. Baron Bingen won seven races and was exported to the United Kingdom to stand at stud.
Berthabell died at Oinako Stud aged 23, her progeny won close to 100 races and over £35,000 in stakes, much of it during the depression years.
Credit: Peter Craig writing in Harnessed 2014