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YEAR: 1948F J SMITH
The death occurred suddenly at his home 'Village Farm,' Takanini, on Monday, of F J Smith, one of the greatest trainers in the history of NZ trotting. He was 54 years of age.
Smith came to NZ in the 1929-30 season, and bought with him the trotter Linnett The Great, an American-bred mare with whom he soon established his reputation as a skilled trainer and driver. So much so that in the comparatively short space of three seasons he had risen to the top of his profession; he became leading trainer and driver in 1932-33 with totals of 39 and 37 respectively. In the following season Smith set a record that still stands when he trained 52 winners and drove 51.
Smith was the leading trainer of England before he came to this country, but the sport was at a very low ebb there, and he spent some time in America, where he studied under some of the leading trainers and horsemen. His experience in the States was indelibly stamped upon his training and driving methods, the superlative condition of his horses, and his own immaculate and perfectly-groomed appearance at all times. His American dress, with its distinctive cap, jacket and gloves, was the epitome of neatness, cleanliness and polish, and his 18-odd years as a trainer and driver in the Dominion did much to elevate the sport in the eyes of the public, who had implicit faith in the integrity of a man they came to respect and admire to a very great extent. His governing purpose was to train horses to win races, and he had the reputation of being a non-bettor. His loss to trotting is very real, and will be felt as much in the North Island as was that of probably his greatest contemporary in the South Island - the late R B Berry.
During his 18 seasons in NZ Smith headed the list of leading trainers on six occasions, and he was the leading horseman on seven occasions. In 18 years he trained more than 500 winners. His last meeting was at Cambridge on January 10, where he was successful with Goldsmith, Delphine, Bessie Grattan and Sure Rey.
Smith's most important win at Addington was the 1941 NZ Cup with Josedale Grattan. A regular visitor to Addington, he rarely made the long trip from Takanini without winning his share of races. Some of his best performers in recent years were Ironside (National Handicap), Worthy Light (Christchurch Handicap), Captain Gaillard, Great Belwin, Doctor Ted and Bonnie Jack. Smith made four attempts to win the Ashburton Trotting Club's NZ Sapling Stakes, but success eluded him, Chancellor finished in third place to War Bouy and Morello in 1933, Sandusky in second place to Two's Loose in 1937, Karnak second to Captain Morant in 1942 and Doctor Ted second to Sprayman in 1945.
Some of Smith's important wins in the North Island included the Auckland Cup (King's Warrior), Great Northern Stakes (Symphony), Great Northern Derby (Chancellor, Bonniedene, Symphony and Josie Dell), Adams Memorial Handicap (Worthy light, Ironside, Josedale Grattan, Bexley's Pride, Doctor Ted), Otahuhu Handicap (Mountain Dell, Kewpie's Guy, Worthy Light, King's Warrior and Our Jewel), Rowe Trotting Handicap (Nell Volo - twice in succession), Hawera Cup (Bonny Azure) and the Manawatu Cup (Rayon d'Or).
A keen student of breeding, Smith imported several horses from America including Nell Volo, Cloverdale, Josedale Dictator, Josedale Grattan, Swordsman and Josedale Dawn. Besides Linnett The Great, his importations from England included Miss Joan Direct and Dan Direct
Credit: 'Ribbonwood' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 21Jan48
1937 NEW ZEALAND TROTTING CUP
Lap Prizes Must Never Be Repeated
The majority of light-harness followers expect the contest for the New Zealand Cup to be a real race - something worth going a long way to see and something to remember. This year, as a spectacle, it was almost a farce and only worth remembering when clubs are considering classes and conditions for big races in the future. Last week's Cup should see the end of lap prizes, with time restrictions, and the finish of big fields in events where class is supposed to be the dominant feature.
The only description to do the event justice is to say it was a crazy, dusty scramble, with luck playing an outsize part in preventing a serious accident. Those who opposed the 4.28 limit from the outset - and "Truth" strongly criticised the failure to tighten the class - had their opposition well justified, the results proved that the unweildy field ruined the Cup for contestants and spectators.
Interference was rife throughout, and altogether it was a race that gave cause for a great deal of reflection. The first mile and a half was nothing short of a shambles. It is doubtful if many were looking to win the lap prizes, but because a few set out with thnat object in view, the rest of the field was scrambling all the way, trying either to get into decent positions, or out of trouble, and more often than not getting neither.
In "Truth's" opinion those who supported the Auckland bracket, King's Warrior and Bonny Azure, had no reason to feel pleased with the tactics employed. King's Warrior was the popular selection of this pair, but there is little doubt that he was solidly supported in the belief that Bonny Azure formed a strong second string and was a possibility to finish in the money. In our opinion, the manner in which she was driven deprived the public of an expected strong second string. Slowly away, she was rushed to the front and driven into the ground. To "Truth" it appeared as if she were in the field for no other reason than to win the lap prizes. This she did. But to gain the lap money she forfeited any chance she had of winning or being in the money.
The tactics employed with Bonny Azure supplied the greatest argument yet advanced in favour of the abolition of lap prizes. The public support horses to win or be placed, but if the public cash is to be sacrificed in this manner it is time the lap prizes were forgotten.
It would be foolish to suggest the Bonny Azure was not driven to win the New Zealand Cup. At the same time few will suggest that she was driven in a manner calculated to win the New Zealand Cup, and that is not a state of affairs that should be invited again by the Metropolitan Club.
The dust was terrific. It was almost impossible to recognise other than the leaders, and those horses well back in the handicaps raced in a cloud of dust, with most drivers 'flying blind.' The size of the field, coupled with the dust was responsible for a great deal of interference taking place, and for the accident that put King's Warrior and Indianapolis out of the race. In the thick of the dust, Fred Smith appeared to put King's Warrior where there was not sufficient room for him, the result being that that pacer hit Graham Direct's sulky and fell, stopping Indianapolis and interfering with Graham Direct and De Soto. Scarcely a horse covered the full distance without meeting some trouble, either major or minor.
Over the final furlong the majority of the field was like a swamp hen's tail - going up and down in the one place - and Lucky Jack was the only one which could raise anything like a sprint home. He was the lucky one in the scramble but he deserved his victory. Owner Bill Lowe is one of our best sportsmen, and the win was popular. Gamble was a tired horse in second place, with Tempest, reserved for a final dash, third. De Soto was fourth, followed by Bonny Azure the only other one within photographic range of the winner.
The second horse was unlucky. He was forced to cover a ton of extra ground from the start, and with a better run he would have won, but he was a very tired horse when he left his feet a chain from the post. Tempest ran a good race, but De Soto was unlucky to run into trouble when King's Warrior fell. More patiently driven Bonny Azure might have won. War Buoy, which went to a tangle a furlong from home; Pot Luck, Reporter, Cloudy Range, Indianapolis, Graham Direct, King's Warrior and others returned to the birdcage with their tales of bad luck and woe attributed to the size of the field and the dust.
The track was watered after the Cup. Earlier in the day there was the promise of rain, and for that reason the watering waggons were not brought into action before the big event. The promise of rain, however, was not sufficient to settle the dust, and it appeared that those responsible erred badly in leaving things to nature.
Altogether, it was a most unsatisfactory contest - a crazy, dusty scramble - and "Truth" trusts that the conditions ruling this year will never be repeated.
Credit: NZ TRUTH 17 Nov 1937
1938 NEW ZEALAND TROTTING CUP
SMITHS QUICK THINKING PREVENTED HOLOCAUST IN TROTTING CUP
Another New Zealand Cup has come and gone and the latest, having much in common with its immediate predecessor, was one few would encore. It was not a race as we understand the word - just a mad scramble with ability in any department counting for little. Lady Luck was in full charge, and outstanding qualities in both horseflesh and horsemanship were wasted talents which could not be brought into play at any stage of the two mile journey.
Trouble started with the release of the barrier, when Rey Spec, Bonny Azure and Ginger Jack - a third of the limit horses - refused to get into action and caused more ducking and dodging than any debt collector ever did. In ordinary circumstances the field would have settled down quickly, but there could be no settling down here.
With 20 runners, all of which had to be within reasonable distance of the leaders, it was beyond all expectations that there would be any real order. Horses went where circumstances put them, and drivers were puppets. Some were given hopeless positions close, or comparatively close, to the inner rail; others were forced to commit their Cup hopes to the deep by being made the outside edge of the moving mass. Not that it mattered a great deal which was their lot. The programme committee's idea of a suitable limit had effectively removed all prospects of good judgement entering the question.
The few drivers who were placed where they could alter their positions were frightened to advance or retract and all had to stay where they found themselves. For the greater part of the journey they were like an uncomfortably packed collection of sardines waiting for someone to produce a tin opener.
As was only natural, this scrambling and crowded field could not go the full journey without an accident. At a stage when desperate positions called for desperate measures, Fred Smith met trouble which caused the inner wheel of Ironside's sulky to collapse. In "Truth's" opinion the club should present Fred with a gold medal. Had Fred attempted to stop his horse, as instinct must have prompted him to do, there seems little doubt that Addington racegoers would have witnessed one of the worst smashes in the history of the sport.
One of the leading division and third from the rails, Ironside was hemmed in with no chance of escape. The collapse of his wheel came when he could not go ahead, pull out or pull up. Fred took one look behind him - the New Zealand Cup field must have presented a pretty picture to him at that stage - and his course of action was decided for him. With his broken wheel ploughing up the track, Fred did his best to keep Ironside at full speed ahead. With the leaders going at 2.8 gait, full speed was impossible, but he slowed down sufficiently to allow the scrambling field to flow around and past him without disastrous interference to any. Had Ironside stopped suddenly or had he been allowed to take the swerve his broken wheel would natuarally tend to give him, the Addington officials would have had all the material on hand for a first-class nightmare.
It is to be hoped that with this incident came the awakening that the indescriminate preference for quantity of a questionable class over quality of an undeniable class cannot, and never will be, a sound or sane policy. The race from start to finish, could leave little room for debate on this question.
In spite of everything, there had to be a winner, and Morello emerged from this scramble the apple of Lady Luck's eye. And he deserved his victory. He went away well; did his work like a tradesman and when he was asked a question in the final quarter he came away in a manner that left little doubt that he was built of the right stuff to survive the day and the conditions. Always handily placed, he enjoyed no luck, either good or bad, in the running, and it has to be admitted that his finishing run carried the hallmark of class.
At the same time, he was fortunate that the conditions attached to the Cup allowed him, a pacer assessed on 4.27 when nominations closed, and one which had failed to prove his merit in numerous opportunities, to take his place in the field. He had done little to justify his inclusion here, and this is his seventh season of racing, but the result proved his connections had solid grounds for their faith in him when they accepted the Club's invitation to parade. Although there are people who will claim that Morello had no right in the field, the Club stretched its imagination and the conditions to attract horses not regarded as being in town-hall society, and all had an equal right to share in the spoils.
Lucky Jack was definitely unlucky not to have made this his second Cup. Like all the backmarkers, he was made to work overtime to get handy to the leaders, and he was forced to cover a ton of ground. When Ironside got in the wars, Lucky Jack was sent back, and he had to start all over again. He finished gamely, but the cards were stacked against him, and he had to be content with second money.
The Aussie, Logan Derby, acted the gentleman and ran a solid race for some of the minor money, while Ginger Jack came from an impossible position to have his number hoisted in fourth place. With a decent beginning it looked as if the latter must have been the winner. Pot Luck, another to begin slowly was right up, while Parisienne, pushed off the face of the earth all the journey, was next and far from disgraced. King's Play, Plutus, Rocks Ahead, Evicus and King's Warrior all went well to a point.
A break at the straight entrance cost Lawn Derby any chance he held. Up to that stage he had put in some great work from the back of the field and he looked like putting in a claim when he left his feet.
The hard luck stories that followed the Cup would fill columns, and none of them had to be invented. There could be nothing but hard luck for the majority of the runners in such a field.
As a race it was a failure, and as an indication of worth in horseflesh it was a farce.
Credit: NZ TRUTH 16 Nov 1938
1941 NEW ZEALAND TROTTING CUP
|Fred Smith, Josedale Grattan & Winifred Matson |
Josedale Grattan, a stallion imported from America by polished Auckland horseman F J Smith, convincingly led home a North Island-owned trifecta when Kenworthy and Peter Smith filled the placings.
It was an exciting spectacle thanks to the tearaway Gold Bar, but Josedale Grattan had his measure two furlongs from home and won by three lengths in a race record of 4:15.
The meeting also saw notable wins recorded by the mare Haughty and the Globe Derby entire Springfield Globe, who had won the Inter-Dominion in Tasmania as a 4-year-old.
Credit: NZ HRWeekly 8Oct03
1941 DOMINION TROTTING HANDICAP
The death has occurred of Mr R H Butterick, for many years one of Canterbury's best-known owners, trainers and breeders. Reg Butterick was one of trotting's 'characters'- a self-effacing, agreeable type of man who had a great deal more ability than ever appeared on the surface.
Reg secured his first real 'break' in trotting one overcast afternoon - it was Wednesday, August 14, 1935, to be exact - when he bid 4gns for lot 13 at a horse sale of nondescripts at Christchurch Tattersall's Horse Bazaar, Cashel Street (now-1962- Gough, Gough & Hamer's premises) and had it knocked down to him. This was a bay mare, seven years, by Wrack from a Nelson Bingen mare, and about the plainest bit of horseflesh imaginable. It took the auctioneer, the late Mr A L Matson, all his time to give her away, and Reg Butterick declared that he "only bought her for a farm hack."
By mere chance Mr Butterick discovered the mare could trot; he put her into training and she proved a goldmine by winning seven races on end. She was then retired to the stud and produced a foal by Quite Sure which strangled itself in a fence. Of a fatalistic philosophy, Reg Butterick decided that Peggotty should not have been retired to the stud, and he put her back into training - she proved better than ever, and won the Dominion Handicap in 1941.
Reg Butterick, who bought the American trotting stallion Josedale Dictator from the late F J Smith and had him at stud for many years, owned a lengthy list of horses, the best of whom were Roy Grattan, who was placed second in the NZ Cup, Macklin, winner of the Auckland Cup, and Peggotty.
Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 26Sep62
1942 NZ PACING SPRINT CHAMPIONSHIP
Gold Bar is the new record-holder at a mile and a quarter. His 2:35 to win the NZ Pacing Sprint Championship by three lengths from Haughty is a world's race record, and as far as New Zealand-bred horses are concerned, Gold Bar now holds the mile harness record 1:59 3-5, the mile saddle record 2:03 3-5, the mile and a quarter record 2:35, the mile and three furlongs record 2:56, and the mile and five furlongs winning record 3:27.
It is a bunch of records never before held by the one horse in the Dominion, and as a speed king Gold Bar has certainly earned a high place in light harness history.
He now goes to the stud at a fee well within the reach of all breeders.
1st: A Holmes's GOLD BAR. Trained and driven by D C Watts, Yaldhurst.
2nd: B Grice's HAUGHTY. Driven by O E Hooper.
3rd: Messrs Pezaro & Bridgen's JOSEDALE GRATTAN. Driven by F J Smith.
4th: E R Smith's PETER SMITH. Driven by L A Maidens.
The winner won by three lengths, with two lengths back to the third horse.
Times: 2:35, 2:35 2-5, 2:35 4-5, 2:36.
Also started: Bayard; Burt Scott; Dusky Sound; Fine Art; Mankind.
Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 18Nov42
1945 DOMINION TROTTING HANDICAP
For a trotter of his age - he is only six - Fantom has performed marvellously well. It is doubtful if in the history of trotting in the Dominion any horse of the same age has been a dual Rowe Cup winner, a Dominion Handicap winner, and a Free-For-All winner in record time.
As a lover of the true-gaited horse, Mr J R McKenzie has probably derived more satisfaction from the performances of Fantom than from the track deeds of any of his pacers. Fantom was fashioned in classic mould from the time he was switched over from the pacing to the trotting gait as an early three-year-old.
His imposing list of successes after he beat a field of trotters of all ages as a three-year-old at Wellington includes the NZ Trotting Stakes, the National Four-year-old Trotting Stakes, the Rowe Memorial Handicap at Auckland two years running, as a four-year-old and a five-year-old, and now his outstanding exploits at Addington this month.
He was trained for his first two successes by R B Berry. On the death of his owner-breeder, the late S W Kelly, he was bought at auction by Mr J R McKenzie for £750 and, trained by G B Noble, he has won £3710 in stakes. His grand total in just over three years is £4225.
1st: J R McKenzie's FANTOM. Trained & Driven by G B Noble of Yaldhurst, started off 36yds.
2nd: F A Bridgen's FOREWARNED. Driven by F J Smith, started off 48yds.
3rd: J Wilson's ORDNANCE. Driven by the owner, started off 60yds.
4th: J Shelly's WILLIE WINKIE. Driven by R Stevens, started off scratch.
The winner won by four lengths, with four lengths back to third.
Also started: Castigate scr, Fire Water scr, Mae Wynne scr, Punctual scr, Sea Gem scr, Teddy Greg scr, Echoist 12, Modest Maid 12, Gentleman Joe 12, Steel King 48 and Range Finder 108 bracketed, Sure Lady 60, Will Cary 108, Sea Max 120,
Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 7Nov45
1946 NEW ZEALAND TROTTING CUP
|Driver Doug Watts and Owner/Trainer Vic Leeming|
The contest for the NZ Trotting Cup, 1946, resembled a funeral march in B flat. It should have been a marathon. It wasn't. The bun rush that developed over the last half-mile, and the memorable photo-finish between Integrity and Josedale Grattan, came as poor compensation on top of the sit-down strike that was imminent for the first mile and a half. It just wasn't good enough for a stake of £7500. The basic constituent of harness racing is speed and stamina, but you will look in vain for either of these commodities in the sectional times for Saturday's race.
Without a doubt it was the worst stayers' Cup for years, because the void that occurred between Vesuvius
and Gold Bar yawns again. The king is indisposed - long live Gold Bar or his prototype. The Metropolitan Club was deserving of a better deal from the principal actors in what should be the Dominion's leading light-harness drama.
Integrity's victory was a gratuity for services rendered in past Trotting Cups - he was runner-up in 1944 and 1945. Possibly he would still of won no matter how the race had been run, but does a horse who has performed like a moderate between one Cup meeting and another really earn a cheque for £5000 at the conclusion of a dirge like Saturday's race turned out to be?
The power went off as soon as Double Peter took charge. The Gold Bar kilowatts were imprisoned in there generator up at Yaldhurst. So lethargic did Double Peter become with a mile covered that he nearly deposited himself in the lap of his trainer, R Young. Turtles would have looked like cheetahs alongside him. In Indian file, two abreast, they sauntered the third half-mile in 66secs after taking 2:14 for the first mile, speed that would not embarass any Timaru Nursery Stakes candidate worthy of consideration.
It is beyond comprehension why trainers prepare their horses to stay two miles in 4:16 or better and are then content to allow one horse to dictate the conditions of a race worth a fortune by looking on while a veteran slows up the field to an amble and reduces three-quarters of the race to a speed that a country cup winner could do in a hearse nowdays. The truth of the 1946 NZ Trotting Cup is that everything played right into the hands of a master craftsman in D C Watts. If he had had the race made to order he could not have wished for anything better. No one wanted to make the pace and no one did - ever.
The past of any NZ Trotting Cup winner should be great. A glance at the Index to Performers reveals that Integrity was unplaced in all of his eight starts prior to his Cup success, and it is difficult to reconcile his abject failure in the Hannon Memorial Handicap at Oamaru five days beforehand with his lightning half-mile thrust to wrest Cup honours from Josedale Grattan. But it must have been a case of strength through weakness because he was a raging favourite from the moment the machine opened. And once he left the mark Integrity had the dawdling two-miler type at his mercy. He is virtually a two-minute horse, though it is only about once a year he produces it.
Josedale Grattan, 300 times a father, and returning to racing afer 15 month's absence, put the younger generation of the field to complete shame. The pity of it was that he went to the post without the winding-up race that might have clinched victory for him. F J Smith's judgement in putting the 11-year-old stallion back into work because he summed up the Trotting Cup possibilities - with the sole exception of Emulous - as by no means of champion calibre, or past their best, was bourne out by the performances of the majority of Saturday's field. When Emulous went sore and did not have the opportunity of qualifying, Smith made no secret of the fact that he expected Josedale Grattan to win. How close he went to doing so, after faltering slightly about 100 yards from the finish, emphasises one of two things - either that Josedale Grattan is a super horse, or that our other Cup horses are mostly has beens. Lets grow old together!
The newest horses in the Cup field, Volo Senwod and Knave of Diamonds, were eliminated in the run home. Knave of Diamonds was literally climbing over everything with less than a quarter to go and eventually succeeded in doing so; he lost his driver near the furlong post. Even old Burt Scott, with many facets to angular shadow, was full of running with nowhere to go in the final furlong, and Countless also appeared to be looking in vain for an opening in the concluding stages.
Integrity is a breeding freak. He is a beautiful chestnut of porcelain quality and refinement, yet his pedigree is the most lowly of any Cup horses racing today. His sire, Trevor de Oro, was a ponified pacer of moderate performances, and his dam, Cheetah, was an unraced mare by Grattan Loyal, a line that, apart from Integrity, has produced nothing in the nature of a champion.
Now eight, Integrity was bred by A and R Gardiner, of Lower Hutt, and was purchased by his owner-trainer, V Leeming, as a yearling. Integrity has won £14,507 in stakes and trophies to date, and becomes the biggest light-harness stake-winner in New Zealand and Australia. The previous record stood to the credit of Great Bingen, who won £14,120, of which £13,320 was earned in the Dominion and the remainder in Perth.
Credit: 'Ribbonwood' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 6Nov46
1947 NZ SPRINT CHAMPIONSHIP (NZ FREE-FOR-ALL)
The highlight of Show Day was Sir Michael's all-the-way win in the New Zealand Premier Sprint Championship. His return to the winning list, despite some poor form earlier this season, did not come as a complete surprise, because he was reported to have worked a brilliant mile and a quarter a few days before this latest success. Sir Michael, a handsome five-year-old brown horse by Lusty Volo from Lady Bridget, has now won 12 races and £7985 in stakes.
First: C Tasker's SIR MICHAEL. Trained by the owner and driven by R Young.
Second: A V Prendeville & J X Ferguson's TURCO. Driven by G S Smith.
Third: N H Norton's GREAT BELWIN. Driven by F J Smith.
Fourth: O E Hooper's KNAVE OF DIAMONDS. Driven by the owner.
The winner won by half a length, with a further half a length back to third.
Also started: Battle Colours, Dundee Sandy, Emulous, Highland Fling, Nyallo Scott, Integrity, In The Mood, Loyal Nurse & Trusty Scott.
Credit: NZ Trotting Calandar 19Nov47
RETURN TO NEW BRIGHTON
|New Tote Annex|
Spic and span with a brand-new £3000 coat of paint, the New Brighton Trotting Club's stands, totalisator houses and rails will present a beaming front to the thousands of old and new patrons expected to throng the roomy seaside course when the club, next month, holds the first meeting on its own grounds for more than six years; the last meeting held at New Brighton was in February, 1942.
The 'new look' manifests itself on all sides. The transformation from the drab dilapidation left by years of military occupation, to the clean, neat orderliness of today is a shining example of what faith in a tradition, loyalty to a cause and an appropriate admixture of sentiment can do. After all, it is only two years since the club decided to go back to New Brighton rather than race permanently at Addington, and in that short time, even though confronted with many difficulties and shortages of materials, it has worked wonders.
Not the least of these is the remodelling of the mile grass track, which has been banked, regraded and top-dressed and a new mile and a quarter start put down. This new starting point will give fields racing over the main sprint distance a straight run of over two furlongs before a bend is encountered. Previously races over this distance were started on a bend. The track at present bears a beautiful sole of grass, and it has never been in better heart. This opinion is giving it something to live up to, because a number of records were broken on it years and years ago.
In 1925 the great mare Onyx, against time, paced a mile and a half in 3.13, then a world's pacing record, and two years previously Happy Voyage, also against time, had set the NZ main for a mile at 2.04 1/5. A superlative performance registered at New Brighton was Harold Logan's 2.36 3/5 in winning the Avon Handicap, of a mile and a quarter, from 84yds in October, 1934. That was then a world's race record, and, from such a long mark, it still ranks as one of the greatest sprints of all time. About that time the claim was made that the New Brighton track was the best grass track in the Dominion, and racing may not be resumed on it for very long before such a claim is reaffirmed.
Training facilities at New Brighton are first class. The late F J Smith could never understand why there were not more stables in the New Brighton area; the easy sandy nature of the soil and training tracks greatly appealed to him and he always finished off the preparation of the teams he brought from Auckland at the New Brighton course.
The main totalisator house has been renovated throughout and now boasts a spruce annex of 13 new selling windows. These, it is hoped, will assist in handling the greatly-increased crowds now attending trotting meetings compared with 1942.
New Brighton is not the oldest trotting club in NZ - that distinction belongs to Wanganui - but trotting races were held on the New Brighton beach in the early 1870s. Later the New Brighton Racing Club conducted its meetings on a property owned by the late Mr Tom Free. Trotting races were introduced to help the club along, but the New Brighton Racing Club was eventually wound up and the ground leased to the Canterbury Sports Co Ltd, for athletics. This body also went into liquidation and the property purchased by the late Mr Henry Mace, who established 'Brooklyn Lodge' a breeding and traing establishment.
The New Brighton Trotting Club became tenants of the grounds in 1890, and from that year went on from success to success, ultimately purchasing the property from the Button family, who had bought it after the death of Henry Mace. Wise conduct of the club's finances resulted in New Brighton becoming the only freehold racecourse in Christchurch. It is quite unencumbered.
A red-letter day in the history of the club was March 15, 1927, when the other two Christchurch trotting clubs conceded it the privilege of holding the Royal Meeting at Addington in honour of the visit of the present King and Queen, then the Duke and Duchess of York. Great Bingen, a big public favourite at the time, rose to the occasion by winning the York Handicap from 108yds and putting up the then world's record of 4.21.
Not a few trainers, and a big section of the public, have a warm spot for the seaside course. New Brighton's carnival spirit, its public atmosphere, did much to popularise the club's meetings in the past. The present officials are alive to their rich heritage; if teamwork gets results, the future of New Brighton is A1 at Lloyds.
Credit: 'Ribbonwood' writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 18Aug48