YEAR: 2008


Ashburton brothers Keith and Bevan Grice are building a super affinity with the NZ Trotting Derby. As breeders they've won it three times already this decade...with Dependable (trained by Mark Purdon) in 2001; Shirley Temple (Paul Nairn) last season, and now Doctor Mickey (Purdon & Grant Payne), who peeled off Sovereignty's back and edged past him to snatch victory in the Travel Practice-sponsored event on Friday night. All three talented trotters are about as closely related as you can get - Dependable was by Sundon out of Janetta's Pride, so is Shirley Temple, and Doctor Mickey is the first foal out of the pair's full-sister Jo Anne.

Allan and Lorraine Georgeson have been associated with the breed for many years too, initially through Dependable but most notably with Jo Anne, and the latter provided the couple with a whole host of fond memories after showing brilliance from 'Day One'. Jo Anne won 12 races in all, still hold three national records, and if there's one regret it's that she never went as far as expected after capturing seven of her 10 starts as a 2-year-old. "She gave us our best moments in the game," Allan recalls. "She was so dominant. When you went to the races, you knew you were going to win - probably by lengths, and in a good time too."

Jo Anne was raced on lease from the Grice brothers, and the Georgesons have been accorded the same luxury now that she's at stud. "We get the first right of refusal on her foals," Geogeson said. "They usually get snapped up pretty quickly if we don't, but the Grices are very fair and men of their word. "I thought Jo Anne would just have to leave a Derby winner, or a horse of some class, and if she didn't then maybe I should give up."

By Dr Ronerail, Doctor Mickey seemed to have lost his early reputation and wasn't given much hope in last Friday night's NZ Derby, having been landed with saddlecloth 13 when the 'big four' all drew the front line and posssessing nowhere near the same credentials; even Georgeson admits that he thought the horse "couldn't win", and hence didn't have a dime on him. "So it was a wee bit of a surprise - but a great thrill," he said afterwards. "He's always shown ability, but didn't have the manners to go with it. The mobile starts certainly help, because he's mad from a stand."

Having been broken in and educated by Mark Smolenski, Doctor Mickey joined the Purdon/Payne stable prior to his third start this time last year, and they've been listed as his 'official' trainers ever since. The gelding's gone home to the Georgeson's at various stages too though, and it hasn't been easy getting him up to where he is today. "He's just not as natural as the others, and has actually curbed both his hocks in the last couple of months," Georgeson said. "But we've all put in out tuppence worth...Lee (son) who used to take him swimming, Stephen Evans who works for us in the mornings, Tommy Behrns, and the vet Corrine Hills deserves a lot of credit for pinpointing a major problem with him. "I got her to look over him when she was down from Auckland one day, and she reckoned his knees were sore, meaning he was standing underneath himself in behind and putting strain on his hocks. So we did some remedial work on them, and put on some Back On Track boot which work a treat."

Georgeson's a licenceholder himself, but his involvement with horses has been scaled down somewhat since late last year when he needed an operation to remove a benign tumour on his brain. Left with a degree of facial palsy, recovery has been a very long and slow process but he's quick to add "well, I'm alive" and that he's gradually starting to get around the property as much as he ever did. So Doctor Mickey's Group 1 victory on Friday night was a much-welcomed boost for a family that's experienced their fair share of tribulations lately. Perhaps there could be more in store too, because plans for a North Island raid are on the table. "It'd be nice to get one more of the big ones," Georgeson said, not in any way meaning to sound greedy. "I don't think we're better than any of the other 3-year-olds, but perhaps showed that he's as good as them."

Credit: John Robinson writing in HRWeekly 2Apr08


YEAR: 2001

Keith Gibson presents the trophy

Jo Anne was swift and sure-footed and greatly superior to 11 others in the Roydon Lodge Stud NZ 2yo Trotting Stakes. She was trotting poetry from start to finish and won by half a length short of ten in 2:29.1 for the mobile 1950m.

Northerner Tony H who surprisingly defeated her a fortnight earlier by half a length was never a factor this time after taking too long to start trotting.

Driver Ken Barron was glowing in his praise. "Initially, I compared her with Gees Pride, but she is really a step above that. She has a beautiful gait and has got speed, too. I have not driven one as good at this age before," he said.

Jo Anne is trained at Templeton by Mark Smolenski for Allan, Lorraine and Anya Georgeson. She is by Sundon from Janetta's Pride, a Gee Whiz II mare owned by Keith and Bevan Grice and more recently the dam of a yearling filly by Britewell, a weanling filly by Sundon, and she was served by Sundon last season.

Credit: Harness Racing Weekly 23May01


YEAR: 2001


Tony H scooted home along the passing lane to down hotpot Jo Anne and win the $20,000 NRM Sires' Stakes 2yo Trotters Championship. Not only did Tony H give Jo Anne her second taste of defeat, he also wiped a second and a half off her older brother Dependable's national record by trotting the 1950m mobile journey in a quick 2:27.1

The whole race had an eerie deja vu feel to it, because just four weeks earlier the blue and white silks of Balle and his training partner Ian Small were seen coming from exactly the same position when Sunease flew home to grab Castleton's Mission in the shadows of the post. He too was considered by most to be 'a certainty' that night.

"You had to respect Jo Anne, but I never considered her to be a past-the-post," driver Mark Jones said afterwards. "Tony H broke early the week before, but he did trot home nicely after that and I always thought we would be a show if we led early and trailed. This horse has got a lovely attitude," he said.

Credit: John Robinson writing in HRWeekly 09May01


YEAR: 2012


Q. You seemed to come into race training and driving a bit later than some. Where did it all start?

In racing not until I was 28 when I got a job at the old Roydon Lodge in Yaldhurst. We came over from the Coast when I was 12 and I was brought up with horses. Later on, I worked a team in the bush for a while. I played league right through the grades and was still playing when I went to Roydon Lodge after I answered an ad in the paper. I broke my jaw playing football soon after and that was the end of the sport. Captain Adios had just passed on when I started and Thurber Frost was the star stallion then. I worked under Ralph Bonnington who was the stallion manager.

Q. You didn't train there though? How did you find it later on taking on training a good team without the background some have had?

The granddam, Aspiring Lass, was a good mare in America and Charlie Hunter trained her down here. She had a twisted bowel at one stage. I got her back for a last season and she won the Canterbury Park Cup for us. The dam (Aspiring Gal) broke a pelvis. But she had showed plenty as a two year old. I was going to try her again but it didn't come to anything. But it was no surprise she would leave fast horses.

I spent a lot of time watching George Noble. There weren't many people who were better to learn from. A lot of it was just what you know and common sense.I started training after we set up the new Roydon Lodge at Templeton. That was a big job and it took time to get it organised. Scottish Hanover was our anchor stallion then and he did a great job. When that was up and running I was breaking horses in and thought I might as well be training them.

Q. Talking of Scottish Hanover, Roydon Scott was your first star?

He was a brilliant horse, a great horse really. I don't think people realised how good he was. I firmly believed he would be the first to run two miles in four minutes here and I think he would have done it. He had a big long stride and everything seemed effortless to him. He battled navicular disease for a long time and when Dr Irvine changed the medication rules on what we were treating him with it finished his career really.

Q. He still ran as favourite in the New Zealand Cup?

It was the owner's decision to run and you can understand wanting to win a Cup. I have to say I would probably not run had it been up to me.

Q. He was a different sort from Roydon Glen who ended up with the better record?

Roydon Glen had a lot of ability but he was always "seeing things" which made him a hard horse to drive. Peter Wolfenden drove him up north for us and didn't actually seem to think a lot of him and I had to take over when he won the Derby by lengths up there. But I could understand why Peter thought like he did. You had to be careful what you did with him in the race and where you put him. Sometimes driving him what punters might think was the right way was the wrong way.

Q. His third in the Cup must have been your biggest disappointment?

There wern't any other races to match it. He drew in, actually began too well, got into the trail and when they eased in front we were four and five back on the fence. Then when I was going to work off the fence I got held in. He flew home of course and should have won it but there wasn't a lot else I could have done.

Q. He didn't really succeed as a sire apart from the trotter Lyell Creek, and Roydon Albatross was a bit disappointing too?

Yes, you wouldn't believe Roydon Glen wouldn't have been a great success with his pedigree. Roydon Albatross was by Albatross but his maternal line was not as strong. He had the bad luck to be foaled down here late in one season instead of early in the next. That meant when he won the Nelson Cup in record time he was really a three year old and it showed what a good stayer he was.

Q. Phillipa Frost was a mighty wee mare too?

A super little mare, tough as they come. Bluey Steel, who worked at Roydon Lodge then had bred her. There was nothing of her but she wore a long hopple for the size she was (59 inch). I liked horses in long hopples. Roydon Scott wore a 64 inch hopple and Roydon Glen a 61 inch. Philippa Frost's length was really massive for her size. She had to battle Delightful Lady in the mare's races and she ran third to Hands Down and Lord Module in the NZ Free-For-All. We got a bit mixed up at the start. Slim Dykman was next to us and told me he was going to do one thing but he did it differently when the gate went. When you look back at her record and what she raced against she was a terrific mare.

Q. We always have to talk about Sundon at Roydon Lodge but Game Pride smoothed the path for him.

He was really the first of the modern trotting sires here, the ones who could leave horses with speed. He did a terrific job year after year once he got established. One thing which surprised me about him is the ability he had. His race record didn't show it but he was a dumpy little guy and we used to have to work him in the cart a bit to get the condition off him. The speed he showed when you chirped him up amazed me. There was a stallion close up in his pegigree called Bill Gallon which the Americans rated highly even though he was not as fashionable as some. He turned up in Sundon's pedigree as well so there was something in it.

Q. Sundons had a mixed reception with many trainers and probably still do. What do you put that down to?

Basically I think they have so much speed that if you let then show too much of it you can have problems. I had Jo Anne early on and she just had phenomenal speed. But Sundon was a lovely relaxed horse. He would spend a lot of time sleeping. One odd thing about him was that he would pee just before the start of every race he had. His sire Arndon was a bit different. I saw him run his world record at the Red Mile. He was sore then and drifted out into the middle of the track but still ran the fastest mile ever. Phenomenal speed. But he wasn't the relaxed horse Sundon was.

Q. There was a bit of a tizz over a positive swab with Sundon at an Inter-Dominions?

A veterinary error. I think vets should be made more responsible for their actions in these sort of cases like they are in some other countries. The owner and trainer have to carry the can.

Q. And you didn't get to drive him when he won the Dominion?

That is a bad memory. I was given three months for not giving him every chance in the Trotting Free-For-All on Cup Day. You wouldn't not try in a $35,000 race then especially a free-for-all. We were the victim of circumstances but the stewards didn't want to know. Peter Jones took the Dominion drive. He had been driving some of my team in the spring and we had talked about Sundon earlier. Then after the Dominion the siren went and they inquired into whether Sundon had checked something early in the race! My charge was quashed on appeal. It left a sour taste.

Q. Morgan James was another good horse I remember?

Just one of those great everyday horses. My friend from Perth, Mick Lombardo, talked me into selling him in a weak moment. He ended up winning $600,000 over there. Just went on and on year after year until he was about 13.

Q. First Jinja Girl and now Royal Aspirations both give you and (grandson) Sam Smolenski Harness Jewels triumphs. How confident were you this year?

Very confident. I told Sam it was his race to lose and drive accordingly and he did. Sam has a great temperament for driving. He does his homework, listens to instructions and is patient. He doesn't worry about things and thatis an asset in big races - to stay cool.

Q. On paper the immediate breed looked sort of just okay. Did you come from another angle?

The granddam, Aspiring Lass, was a good mare in America and Charlie Hunter trained her down here. She had a twisted bowel at one stage. I got her back for a last season and she won the Canterbury Park Cup for us. The dam (Aspiring Lass) broke a pelvis. But she had shown plenty as a two-year-old. I was going to try her again but it didn't come to anything. But it was no surprise she would leave fast horses.

Q. Royal Aspirations is a horse which can go on?

He's smart as well as fast. He got mixed up at the start of a race at Addington but he still tried to head for the birdcage. He knew where the winners went and wanted to be there. He has a good spell now but he can get better yet.

Q. You are a man of many talents, especially with the manipulation of horses. How did that start?

I suppose it went back to my sporting days in a way, getting over injuries and that. I started to read up on acupuncture and similar treatments and taught myself how to do them watching others and practicing. I started doing it with the race horses to stretch them before a race like an athlete does with hamstrings and other muscles and then started post race treatments. The horses are running around in circles after all and they can develop specialised ailments. A lot of problems happen in the paddock because the circles they are running in are that much smaller. So I don't like to see them turned out after a treatment as some recommend.

Q. You are also a "heartbeat" man with yearlings?

I probably did 100 horses this year at the sales. No special science, I just listen to the heartbeat. You can tell quite a lot from it. Some of them sound like a Mack truck. I think it is a fairly credible thing and more people seem to be asking me to do it. Anything you can find out about a horse someone else might not know is an advantage.

Credit: HRWeekly 25July2012

In the event that you cannot find the information you require from the contents, please contact the Racing Department at Addington Raceway.
Phone (03) 338 9094