YEAR: 1948


Mr James Jarden, who died in Christchurch on Sunday at the age of 85, was one of the pioneers of trotting in NZ.

Mr Jarden was always interested in horses, riding his first winner, a galloper, when he was nine years of age, at a sports meeting on the New Brighton beach. A keen judge of horses, Mr Jarden won two races at the first totalisator meeting held on the property now occupied by the New Brighton Trotting Club.

Mr Jarden won the first Otahuhu Cup with Royanna and he also won races with Young Irvington. Among his last winning rides was Merrylegs, at Addington in 1904. Pacers he was interested in more recently included John Dillon, Birdwood and Leewood.

Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 14Jul48


YEAR: 1963


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.


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.


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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