George Shand had his last drive on the unplaced Eastwood Jaunty in the Green Mile at Methven on Sunday. "I just haven't been too good health-wise and decided to stand down," Shand said.
He trained and drove Eastwood Jaunty to win the inaugural Green Mile in 2000. The gelding has contested the six Green Miles. He finished second to Bruzem in 2001 and third to Oaxaca Lass and Niobium in 2002. Eastwood Jaunty has won 13 races including the 2003 Methven Cup.
Shand, who turns 76 on Friday, drove 373 winners including Satyr who won the main race, the McCloy Memorial Handicap, at Methven in 1960. He drove his first winner, Lochella, at Wanganui in October, 1951. Lochella was trained by his father-in-law, Peter Gallagher.
"One of the highlights was winning the Ashburton Flying Stakes with Mighty Gay. I always had a soft spot for the horse," Shand said. "Another was winning a race in Australia (at Mildura) with Eastwood Jaunty."
Mighty Gay won the Flying Stakes in 1976. Shand trained and drove Borana to win the Forbury and Oamaru Juvenile Stakes in the early 1980s.
Credit: Tayler Strong writing in HRWeekly 14Dec05
Thirty-year-old Templeton horseman Peter Jones was shaking. His wife Lois was nearly in tears. The couple's daughter Philippa was completely overcome. And their young son Mark just wanted to give his hero a hug and pat the horse. Borana had just won the $225,000 Toyota NZ Cup at Addington with Peter Jones at the helm. The joy of the Jones family said it all.
Five years earlier - 1980 - Peter Jones had driven in his first NZ Cup and reined home Hands Down in a great tactical victory over North Island idol Delightful Lady.
That was a feat that Jones cherished. Last Tuesday, however, Jones not only drove the Cup winner but was also the trainer. With his first runner in the NZ Cup, Peter Jones, just over 12 months into his professional training career, completed something all New Zealand trainers dream about.
This year's NZ Cup had been won by Australian visitor Preux Chevalier before the race had been run, according to the pundits. The much vaunted West Australian pacer was backed down to very short odds. But, like most short priced Cup favourites, he was beaten.
Roydon Glen was to offer the Australian his toughest opposition. A noted Australian journalist was quoted in the local Christchurch morning daily that Preux Chevalier would win by a "street". Roydon Glen's trainer-driver Fred Fletcher was in something of a quandary before the race. "I'm still trying to figure out how far a street is," said Fletcher. "Just how much do I have to get beaten by?"
Borana's chances of beating the first and second favourites were not accorded much public support. At totalisator close, he was the rank outsider of the field. His chances indeed looked remote after being well beaten in atrocious conditions in the Kaikoura Cup then finishing out of a place in the Cup trials the previous Thursday.
Someone, however, forgot to tell Borana and Peter Jones of the situation. After giving all but an earlier breaker in Spry Joker a start with 1000 metres to run, Borana came with the last run to win going away by one and a quarter lengths, returning his backers over $76 to win, the biggest Cup upset of all time. Closest to him at the line was Our Mana. He was three quarters of a length clear of Roydon Glen with a short head back to Preux Chevalier. Comedy Lad, Camelot and the pacemaking Premiership were close up next. Borana returned to a great reception, although one section of the crowd gathered by the birdcage decided they had the right to spoil Jones' occasion with booing and cat-calls.
For Borana, a six-year-old stallion by Boyden Hanover out of the Out To Win mare Aoranam, the Cup victory was his 18th career win. The $135,000 winner's cheque doubled his stake earnings to $247,645, a total brought in from 95 starts.
"It's every owner's dream to win this race, and we did it today," said Borana's part-owner John Murray at the presentation. "We owe a lot to Peter (Jones) and his boys for the way they have prepared this horse," Mr Murray added, "this win is as much for them as it is for us." Mr Murray, an administrator with the IHC in Dunedin, races Borana in partnership with his wife Doreen. The couple acquired Borana when the horse was just seven months old. The then colt was advertised for sale in the NZ Trotting Calendar. Peter Shand, son of Washdyke trainer-driver George Shand noticed the advertisement and, because he knew the couple were looking for a horse, told John Murray, who purchased the colt soon after for $2,000.
Placed in the care of George Shand, Borana quickly showed ability and at two raced 12 times for six wins, including victories in the Rangiora Raceway Stakes, Forbury Juvenile Stakes and Oamaru Juvenile Stakes. A leg injury at two sidelined the colt for a while and he missed a chance of competing in the major juvenile events.
Back at three, Borana competed with the best. He raced 18 times, winning four and being placed in 12 other races, bringing in stakes of $28,185. Two of his wins were recorded in the NZ Championship Stakes and the Mercer Mile, the latter victoy in 2:00.7.
At four, Borana was second best pacer of his age behind Nostradamus. He raced 34 times, recording seven wins and 13 placings, returning his owners $45,095. Wins at this age came in the Te Awamutu Cup (2:00.1), Cambridge Classic, DB Superstars heat and a heat of the Messenger. Borana raced 24 times last season without success. His first eight appearances were from George Shand's stable, then the stallion changed quarters soon after the NZ Cup meeting last November and joined Peter Jones' team.
A successful junior driver, holding the record for the most wins as a junior until recently beaten by his nephew Anthony Butt, Jones decided to branch out into training and acquired a property that backed on to his father's establishment at Templeton.
Borana had his first outing in Jones' black and white colours at Alexandra Park on December 22. Not 12 months later, those colours were brought back at the head of the NZ Cup field. "I was lucky I suppose," said Jones. "Not many trainers get a horse with an open-class assessment to begin with." Lucky or not, Jones has quickly made his mark as a trainer, not only with Borana but with other horses including Laser Lad, likely favourite for the $125,000 Fay, Richwhite Sires'Stakes Final last Friday. "It was a thrill to win with Hands Down in 1980," said Jones, "but to win today and also train the winner, well, I can tell you it's an incredible feeling." Jones added that he felt for the Fred Fletchers and Barry Perkins of the world. "Those blokes had all the pressure on them, press, radio, television, everything. We had no pressure on us at all, no one even came out to get our autographs during the week leading up to the race. It was nice to be able to relax and take the race as it came."
Jones said he was slightly confident of success before the race. "As confident as you can get when there is opposition like Preux Chevalier and Roydon Glen," he said. "I knew this fellow was the best I had had him since he came here, and I knew he would go a top race. It was just a matter of getting a good run and staying out of trouble. Peter Jones has no set plans for the horse. "I will take them as they come." A trip to Brisbane for the Albion Park Inter-Dominions in April? "No, no thoughts on that at this stage."
Our Mana, so often the bridesmaid in big cup events, again had to play second fiddle, as he had done to Camelot in last year's event. Left in the open early Colin De Filippi gave the Schell Hanover gelding a beautiful run in the one-one from the 1800 metres after Preux Chevalier looped the field to sit without cover. De Filippi had Our Mana poised on the leader's wheels as they swung for home. He loomed up to Premiership 150 metres out and looked set to win. "We had every chance," said Colin De Filippi. "I thought we had a chance when we got to the front inside the 200 metres but I could hear Borana coming and knew he was going much too well for us." Some consolation for owner Jenny Barron was that the $45,000 second prize money boosted Our Mana's earnings over $200,000. The gelding has now won $240,720.
Second favourite Roydon Glen was third, and looked decidedly unlucky. Away well, he ended up five back on the fence early, then four back. He had a wall of horses both in front and beside him with 600 metres to run and had no pacing room at all. Clear late, Roydon Glen accelerated too quickly and paced roughly. Once balanced by Fred Fletcher, he roared home down the outside but it was too late, Borana had the race in safe keeping.
A short head away in fourth was Preux Chevalier. Slow then into a break in the first 50 metres, the West Australian settled several lengths off the leaders early. He had caught the bunch with 2400 metres to run, then driver Barry Perkins sent his charge on a sweeping run towards the lead. Instead of continuing on, Perkins elected to sit without cover. There they stayed until the home turn. Preux Chevalier issued a challenge and kept on fighting, but the expected winning margin of a "street" was nowhere to be found.
Comedy Lad was a length back fifth. Tony Herlihy had the gelding handy on the fence but try as he might in the straight the gaps did not come.
Camelot was sixth. The 1984 Cup winner was given a good run by Robin Butt. He improved three wide to be challenging on the turn and kept coming, though not suited by the slow pace.
Premiership was next in, a nose back. He set the pace, not the 3:59 pace many had expected, but a muddling pace. He looked to be going well on the turn and still had control as close as 150 metres out. He was dive-bombed only in the final few metres.
Credit: Brian Carson writing in NZ Trotting Calendar
"We'll start in everything how except waterjumps." So said a jubilant Dr Harry Crofts after Camelot ran out a three quarter length winner of the NZ Cup at Addington.
Camelot edged past the pacemaking Dillon Dale in the final 100 metres of the $125,000 feature to score a popular win. Dillon Dale lost second in the shadows of the post to Our Mana, while Hands Down headed the remainder some four lengths away.
While all the glory of the win went to Camelot, the Cup was marred to a great extent by a melee with a little under 700 metres to run in which the chances of seven horses were extinguished. George Shand, the driver of Borana, was suspended up to and including December 15 after being found guilty of causing interference to Diamond Moose at the 700 metres. Diamond Moose (Murray Butt) was brought down in the incident, while Double Cove (Jack Smolenski) fell, Enterprise (Peter Shand) fell, Supreme Ruler (Richard Brosnan) fell, Stampede (Gavin Hampton)lost his driver, as did Stortford Lodge (Paul Young). Also hampered badly in the incident was Norton. Peter Shand and Jack Smolenski both needed hospital treatment, Shand dislocating a shoulder while Smolenski broke an ankle. None of the remaining drivers were badly injured, mainly being shaken and bruised. Several horses had skin grazes but none were seriously injured.
Camelot settled back on the outer for Robin Butt. The pre-race and race-day favourite made his move with some 950 metres to run, improving three wide and being followed all the way by Our Mana. Camelot had just joined Diamond Moose at the 700 metres when the melee took place. Dillon Dale, who had broken at the start and lost up to 40 metres, looped the field on the back of Hands Down to lead at the 1500 metres. He still had control as the field swung for home and, despite his early mistake, fought back tenaciously when challenged by Camelot. Camelot edged ahead slowly but surely as the post loomed and had three quarters of a length over Our Mana at the line. The latter fought on well after trailing Camelot up from the 950 metres and coming off his back with 150 metres to run.
For 57-year-old Harry Crofts, the Cup win was a lifetime ambition fulfilled. After running second to Steel Jaw in his record run Cup 12 months previously and then winning the NZ Free-For-All, Camelot bounced back to form with a win from 29 metres in Mid-October. That return to form, plus his effort in the Cup a year earlier, brought Camelot to the forefront of discussions.
Said Harry Crofts at the presentation: "I would have cried if he'd lost...I can cry now that he's won."
Camelot will have further chances to demonstrate his ability before the season is completed. He will leave on November 20 for Sydney where he will contest the Australian Pacing Championship at Harold Park. After that he will be aimed at the Auckland Cup, followed by the Inter-Dominions at Moonee Valley in March. "After that it's off to the Meadowlands for the World Cup," said Harry Crofts. A tilt at that rich world class event will probably depend on his efforts during the next few months.
"I was never really worried," said Robin Butt after the race. "He was a bit slow early, but I gave him time to find his feet." Butt,41, has had Camelot in his care since being broken in by Alec Wright. The horse has had his share of problems in the last 12 months, a virus attack in Auckland last December and a lot of minor setbacks since have not helped the stallion. "He has kept right on improving this spring," said Robin Butt, "and peaked on the right day." While Camelot missed the melee at the 700 metres, he was involved in minor incident on the way to the course," said Harry Crofts. "He took a bit of skin off his rump. It was probably a good thing," he added. "I think it may have woken his ideas up a bit."
Camelot's victory in the Cup was only the third occaion on which Harry Crofts had seen his horse win. "I came over for the Cup meeting last year and saw him win the Free-For-All on Show Day," said Harry. He arrived back in New Zealand last March after spending two years stationed in Saudi Arabia. "I saw him win at the Canterbury Park meeting...and now today."
Harry Crofts has been involved in the trotting industry since 1950. "I bought my first horse when I was 23," he said. "I'd just qualified as a doctor and with my first wage bought a .22 rifle and the second a horse." Whether the gun was later used on other standardbred purchases Harry didn't say, but he added that he had raced "over 40 horses" since that time, "winning the odd race here and there", but that Camelot was by far the best he had had.
Harry Crofts bred Camelot from the Blue mare Blue Brook, a mare he purchased in 1971. "I was busy in my rooms the day Alan Holmes was having a sale and I asked Wayne Francis to buy a mare for me," said Mr Crofts. "I liked Blankets but knew she would fetch too much so I told Wayne to go up to $1500 to buy her three-quarter sister Blue Brook, who was in foal to Fallacy at the time. He only had to go to $1250 to get her then, after having a look at her blood, asked if he could go halves in the mare with me. We couldn't decide on who would take the first foal from her so agreed to let our wives have the first foal and then take alternative foals, with myself starting off." Apart from Camelot, Blue Brook has left minor winners in Timely Jubilee, Cover Story (US 2:02.4) and Brookby Blue. Camelot is the first Cup winner from the Norice family to which he belongs. Norice, herself a top mare, so many years ago, ran second in the 1904 NZ Cup.
While the honours were with Camelot, good runs came from the two other placegetters, Our Mana and Dillon Dale, especially the latter. A little slow early, Our Mana sat back behind Camelot all the way. Colin De Filippi didn't miss a beat when Camelot and Butt improved with 950 metres to run. Like Camelot, Our Mana was particularly lucky to miss any interference from the melee at the 700 metres. He followed Camelot until well into the straight, pulled off his back with 200 metres to run but couldn't bridge the gap. "Every chance," said Colin De Filippi after, "we were beaten by a better horse on the day."
The effort of Dillon Dale in finishing third was a feature of the race. The Takanini-trained seven-year-old galloped away and lost 40 metres before trainer-driver Don Dwyer could settle him into a pace. After catching the body of the field with 2400 metres to run, he improved three wide following Hands Down and took command with 1500 metres to run. With the winner running the 3200 metres in 4:06.4, one would have expected Dillon Dale to be struggling when the pressure was applied, but he fought back tenaciously all the way down the straight and lost second in the last few strides, being only half a neck away from Our Mana.
Fourth, four lengths away, was Hands Down. He began well from ten metres and Peter Jones improved him wide to lead with 1900 metres to run. He took a trail when Dillon Dale swept up and into the lead with 1500 metres to run but was under pressure to hold the trail at the 400 metres. He battled bravely to the wire.
Northern hope Te Puke Expects was fifth. He trailed early then settled back on the fence. He was under pressure a fair way from home and only battled. He comfortably beat Hilarious Guest, who lead from the 2400 metres to the 1900 before trailing. She dropped away from the 600 metres and was clear of the Australian champion Gammalite. He began well from 30 metres but was forced three wide from the 2400 metres. Bruce Clarke improved the gelding to sit without cover with a lap to run but Gammalite was obviously a beaten horse with 400 metres to run.
Only Norton and Borana of the remaining eight runners completed the course. Norton broke at the start and lost 20 metres before settling. He was making a move to follow Camelot and Our Mana round when badly checked in the accident at the 700 metres, his chances being extinguished.
Credit: Brian Carson writing in NZ Trotting Calendar
MIGHTY GAY - Enigma