In December 1900 Mr G H McHaffie, who was not only a Committeeman of the NZMTC but also a member of the NZ Trotting Association, expressed the view that the three Trotting Clubs around Christchurch should combine to form one strong central body racing at the Metropolitan’s course at Addington. He was of the opinion that a great deal would depend on the attitude of the Colonial Secretary but that if Plumpton Park and New Brighton Trotting Clubs were to throw in their lot with the Metropolitan Club such centralization could only be of gain to the sport. An amalgamation of the three Clubs would rub off all the corners and place the Metropolitan Club in a sound financial position and enable it to make many improvements which would be of direct benefit to the public.

In February 1905 it was reported that the popular Trotting Club Secretary, Mr A I Rattray, had married Mrs Mace, widow of Mr H Mace soft-drink manufacturer of New Brighton. Mr Mace was a Committeeman of the Canterbury Trotting Club and was prominent in the affairs of the New Brighton Trotting Club and its course.

Without doubt history has a habit of repeating itself as in January 1906 a report stated:

“The lot of a caretaker of a Trotting ground is not a happy one and Mr French, the hard-working and painstaking custodian of the Metropolitan Trotting Club’s grounds, is just now finding this out. He has gates open from five in the morning until nine at night and does everything he possibly can for the convenience of the trainers who are still not happy. Trainers pay about seven pence a week licence fee for training on the Metropolitan grounds and such a very modest cost for such great facilities ought to make them deeply grateful instead of discontented.”

A report in the NZ REFEREE of 31st July 1907 stated that Messrs T H Davie, M H R Hood-Williams and C Hood-Williams waited on Sir Joseph Ward in regard to Trotting and the Gaming Bill. They pointed out to the Premier that the Bill as originally drafted made no provision for Trotting and the deputation asked that he include Trotting in the next measure. It was also pointed out that if the clause that no racecourse should be less than six furlongs was adhered to, Trotting would not be possible on the Metropolitan Club’s Course which was only five furlongs in length. In reply to the deputation the Premier promised to look into the matter and give it his best consideration.

In August 1911 a deputation representing the NZ Metropolitan, Canterbury Park and New Brighton Trotting Clubs waited on the Hon. D E Buddo, Minister of Internal Affairs, to protest against the reductions imposed on those Clubs by the findings of the Racing Commission. The Hon. Charles Louisson pointed out that of the eleven days by which Trotting had been reduced throughout the Dominion eight had been taken from the local Clubs and the Ashburton Club. The Minister said that the protest made by the deputation would be recorded but he was personally unable to do anything in the matter as the Commission had been set up by Parliament. Referring to the deputation the media expressed the view that the three Clubs were not well-advised to be continually worrying about the reduction of their days as together they had seventeen days racing, the Metropolitan Club having nine days and Brighton and Canterbury Park four days each. It was pointed out that of the fifty one days trotting for the whole of New Zealand the three Christchurch Clubs had no fewer than seventeen and that in spite of this they were still not satisfied. It was pointed out that the people were paying more for their sport at Addington than they did in the previous year and that judging from the decrease in stakes they were not getting such good sport for their money. The article went on to say that the Metropolitan Club had spent a large amount of money provided by the public in making a grand place for the sport of trotting but the Commission had pointed out that the tenure was unsatisfactory and recommended that the Club should acquire the freehold or the right to race permanemtly on the present ground at a fixed rental. Instead of asking for the moon, the article continued, the Hon. Charles Louisson and his fellow Committeemen should see whether they cannot obtain some fixture of tenure and secure for the people a permanent right to the enjoyment of the grounds an buildings which have been improved and erected at a cost of some £40,000 which money has been provided by the public.

In the NZ REFEREEof 15th November 1911 it was reported that Mr A I Rattray, Secretary of the NZMTC bred Cleveland, the sire of Clive which dead-heated with Quincy in the Dominion Handicap at Addington.

In October 1912 it was reported that Mr H E Goggin, the clerical assistant to Mr Rattray at the office of the NZMTC, returned to Christchurch after a holiday spent in Australia, mostly in Sydney and Melbourne.

A report in the NZ REFEREE of 9th April 1913 stated that a very well deserved tribute was paid to Mr A I Rattray, Secretary of the three trotting clubs of Christchurch, when on the first day of the NZMTC’s Easter Meeting at Addington he was presented with a handsome silver tea and coffee service and salver as a mark of the Clubs’ appreciation of his services to the sport. The Hon. Charles Louisson, President of the NZMTC, in making the presentation said that as most of those present were aware Mr Rattray had recently taken a trip to America for the benefit of his health and they were glad to see he had returned fully restored. It is largely due to Mr Rattray’s efforts, he continued, that the sport of trotting had reached the high standard it now held and the Clubs felt that the present was a good opportunity to show how they valued Mr Rattray’s work. Mr Howell, President of the Canterbury Park Trotting Club and Mr Archer, President of the New Brighton Trotting Club also spoke briefly of their appreciation of Mr Rattray’s services. Mr Rattray in his reply expressed his thanks for the kindness which had been shown him and said that what he had done for the sport had been done as a labour of love.

In August 1913 it was reported that Mr E C McDermott had joined the professional ranks and scored a couple of good wins with Rosalie which had won two of the Trotters’ races at he Augus Meeting.

In March 1914 in the Supreme Court, Christchurch, a claim by Clifford Tasker against the NZMTC for £750 damages in respect of injuries sustained by the trotting horse Michael Gillander was heard before Mr Justice Dennison and a special jury. Tasker also claimed £40 damages being the sum paid the Veterinary Surgeon in connection with the horse’s injuries. Tasker stated that while training his horse around the track he saw a draught mare coming towards him at a gallop and the mare hit Michael Gillander on the left side near the shoulder knocking him over. His horse fell on top of the witness who had been flung from the sulky and then scrambled to its feet and galloped around the track. In the opinion of the jury the gates were insecurely fastened thus allowing the draught mare to get onto the track and it found the Club liable on various counts and granted damages of £200.

Under the heading of “Athletics” in the NZ REFEREE of 19th August 1914 it was reported that

“C S Thomas, the Dominion half-mile champion, ran third in his heat in the A A A Championships at Stamford Bridge when, by breaking the standard time, he won a bronze medal.”

The Chairman of the Auckland Trotting Club, Mr John Rowe, attended the NZMTC’s 1915 Cup Meeting and afterwards said that he had been much impressed with the Course, its facilities and the class of trotting presented. The way the public supported the sport had been an eye opener to him. This was his first visit to Addington and he freely recognized that the standard of trotting in Christchurch was quite phenomenal.

In the NZ REFEREE of 23rd January 1918 it was reported:

“At eleven o’clock last Thursday morning when the NZ Metropolitan track was practically deserted by trainers an unexpected visit was paid to the grounds by Mr C M Hill the well-known aviator of Sockburn who, owing to engine trouble at an altitude of 2000 feet, found it necessary to descend to the Grounds. As the trouble could not be repaired on the spot the machine was later taken to Sockburn by lorry to receive attention.”

Credit: NZMTC: Historical Notes compiled by D C Parker


YEAR: 1911

Lady Clare and driver Jack Brankin

Lady Clare, the second mare to win the New Zealand Cup, was a six-year-old by Prince Imperial from Clare, who was by Lincoln Yet, the sire of Monte Carlo.

Her trainer, James Tasker, who had been successful with Marian in 1907, took the drive behind her more favoured bracketmate Aberfeldy, and entrusted the drive behind Lady Clare to Jack Brankin. The Cup field was not a strong one, with Wildwood Junior out of the way. Also missing from nominations was King Cole, the star of the August meeting. King Cole, winner of the King George Handicap from Bribery and Dick Fly, and the National Cup from Havoc and Bright, had been temporarily retired to stud. The club received 14 nominations, but the early favourite, St Swithin, was injured and withdrawn. Sal Tasker, who had not raced for four years, and Manderene were two other defections. The front starter, Imperial Polly, received five seconds from the back marker, Bright. Al Franz, because of some outstanding trials, was race favourite, with the bracketed pair of Dick Fly and Redchild, from the stable of Manny Edwards, also well supported. Redchild was the only trotter entered.

The field did not get away at the first attempt because Free Holmes, the driver of Bribery, jumped the start. Medallion stood on the mark and took no place in the race, while Bribery went only one lap and then pulled up lame. Lady Clare led from the start and at the halfway stage was still in front, followed by Al Franz, Dick Fly, Imperial Polly, Aberfeldy, Havoc and Redchild. The mare held on to the lead to win by a length, in 4:38, from Dick Fly, with necks to Al Franz and Redchild. Then came Aberfeldy, Bright and Havoc.

The Cup victory was the last of Lady Clare's seven career wins, but she showed her durability by racing over eight seasons. Indirectly, she featured again in the Cup in 1988, when Luxury Liner turned the clock back 77 years. Lady Clare was the firth dam of Luxury Liner. Lady Clare's £700 from the Cup stake of 1000 sovereigns was the only money she won during the season. Emmeline, an outstanding mare by Rothschild from Imperialism, a Prince Imperial mare, won £949 and was the season's top earner. Rothschild and Prince Imperial were both still standing at stud in the Canterbury area. Rothschild was at Durbar Lodge, in Ashburton, available at a fee of 10 guineas. Prince Imperial and his son, Advance, stood at James McDonnell's Seafield Road farm, also in Ashburton. Prince Imperial's fee was also set at 10 guineas, but Advance was available at half that rate. Franz, the sire of Al Franz (third in the Cup), stood at Claude Piper's stud at Upper Riccarton, at 10 guineas. Franz was a full-brother to Fritz, by Vancleve from Fraulein.

A new surname at that time, but a very familiar on now, Dan Nyhan, introduced another great harness racing family to Addington. Nyhan trained at Hutt Park and ha won the 1909 Auckland Cup with Havoc. He was the father of Don Nyhan, later to train the winners of three New Zealand Cups with his legendary pair of Johnny Globe and Lordship, and grandfather of Denis Nyhan, who drove Lordship (twice) and trained and drove Robalan to win the Cup.

Of all the stallions in Canterbury, Wildwood Junior commanded the biggest fee, 12 guineas, but he held that honour only until 1914, when Robert McMillan, an expatriate American horseman, stood his American imports Nelson Bingen and Brent Locanda at fees of 15 guineas at his Santa Rosa stud at Halswell. He also had Harold Dillon and Petereta on his property. Harold Dillon, sire of the champion Author Dillon, was the top sire for six seasons, from 1916-17 until 1921-22, while Petereta gained some fame by siring the double New Zealand Cup winner Reta Reter.

The outstanding feature of the 1911 Cup meeting was the introduction of races restricted to trotters, particularly the Dominion Handicap. The move, prompted by the Metropolitan Club, came at an appropriate time to save horses of this gait from extinction in New Zealand racing. In the 1880s and 1890s there were two trotters for every pacer in New Zealand, but by 1911 the reverse ratio applied. With the advent of the sulky and harness from the United States, trainer in the 1890s found pacers easier to gait and easier to train, and learned that they came to speed in less time, so many trotters were converted to the pacing gait. Generally, the trotter could not match the pacer on the track.

Coiner won the Middleton Handicap on the first day, in saddle, and raced over two miles in 4:52. Quincey, who had been successful against the pacers on several occasions, got up in the last stride to dead-heat with Clive in the Dominion Handicap, with Muricata, a promising five-year-old, third. Muricata became the dam of double New Zealand Cup winner Ahuriri. The Dominion Handicap carried a stake of 235 sovereigns and was raced in harness for 5:05 class performers. Quincey's time was 4:37.4 slightly faster than Lady Clare recorded in the Cup on the Tuesday. Another of the 13 trotters in this race was the Australian-bred Verax, who started in the New Zealand Cup six times.

The meeting ended with some high-class racing on Show Day. In the Enfield Handicap, in saddle, Aberfeldy, from scratch, beat 14 rivals in 2:12.6, a New Zealand race-winning record for one mile. St Swithin, who had to miss the Cup, won the Christchurch Handicap from Emmeline and Little Tib. The Andy Pringle-trained pacer confirmed how unfortunate it was for his connections that injury denied him a Cup start.

Further improvements had been made at Addington, with a large new 10-shilling totalisator housebeing used for the first time. With bookmakers outlawed, the totalisator turned over a record £27,418 on Cup Day, and betting on the Cup of £6096 10s was a single-race record. The total for the three days of the carnival of £68,329 was an increase of £17,440 over the previous year.

Credit: Bernie Wood writing in The Cup


YEAR: 1911

In the NZ REFEREE of 15th November 1911 it was reported that Mr A I Rattray, Secretary of the NZMTC bred Cleveland, the sire of Clive which dead-heated with Quincy in the Dominion Handicap at Addington.

Credit: NZMTC: Historical Notes compiled by D C Parker

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