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Magnificent racehorse and sire

Lovers of champions were saddened last week by the news of the death of Bachelor Hanover at the age of 22 years. The magnificent racehorse and sire passed away at Jim Dalgety’s Lantana Stud, West Melton, where he had stood since being imported in 1965.

Bred by the famous Pennsylvanian nursery Hanover Shoe Farms, Bachelor Hanover was a rich chestnut by Nibble Hanover (T5, 1:58¾ – a champion square-gaiter of the late thirties early forties and sire of four and the dams of thirty seven in two minutes) from one of the all time greatest matrons in The Old Maid, amongst whose progeny is included Dancer Hanover (P4, 1:56.8 – sire of twenty seven and the dam of onein two minutes namely the mighty Albatross P4, 1:54.6). 

By Guy Abbey, The Old Maid Maid was from Spinster, dam also of the almost legendary Roydon Lodge import Light Brigade, grandam of Harold J sire of one of North America’s top free-for-allers of the present in Nickawampus Leroy, and third dam of current Castleton Farm owned boom sire Tace Time, sire of thirty three in two minutes. A daughter of Spencer and Minnetonka, Spinster belonged to the famed Thompson sisters. This family now boasts sevety seven pacers and fourteen trotters with records of two minutes or better.

A racehorse campaigning from the Billy Houghton stables Bachelor Hanover installed himself as one of the top two and three-year-old pacers of all time. At those ages he earned $123,583, the greatest amount ever won by a standardbred in juvenile and sophomore seasons up to that time. His eleven wins at two included two of North America’s most prestigious classics, namely the Fox Stakes and the Reading Futurity. 

At three he again scored on eleven occasions including the inaugural running of the Little Brown Trial and a Junior Free-For-All while over the four following seasons he competed in the tough free-for-all circuit, meeting and defeating such champions as Adios Harry(P4, 1:55), Diamond Hal(P4,1:57.4), Gold Worthy(P5, 1:57.2) and Belle Acton(P3, 1:58.6), when he was retired as a seven-year-old his bankroll stood at $209,021 (and stakes were then far below today’s level). He stood light stud duty at the North American Symphony Acres Stud Farm and was purchased by Jim Dalgety at that establishment’s dispersal sale in 1964.

On his arrival in NZ at West Melton in October 1965 he was justifiably heralded as “the greatest classic winning pacer to do stud duty outside of America” and was in fact the biggest stake winner ever to be imported to that time. For his first NZ stud season, 1965-66 Bachelor Hanover covered 84 mares, the resulting 60 foals crediting him with a 71% fertility rate. Over the next seven stud seasons he preserved his extremely high fertility rate, never dropping below 72% and on two occasions peaking at 81%, during his first eight seasons he was mated with 673 mares for 504 resulting live foals.

He steadily climbed in 1970-1, second to Johnny Globe in 1971-2 and 1972-3 before topping the table for the 1973-4 season. He left the winners of 340 races worth $614,625 in NZ while his exported stock has performed with great credit in both Australia and North America. He was also leading sire of NZ 2-year-olds on three occasions.

His two most notable offspring are undoubtedly wonder colt Noodlum and mighty stayer Arapaho(P4, 1:59) the 1972 “Horse Of The Year”, winner of the NZ and Auckland Cups in 1973 and now based in Canada. Others to have aided Bachelor Hanover’s enormous contribution to this country’s standardbred breeding industry have been Bachelor Star(the 1971 NZ Derby victor), Bachelor Tom(one of the nation’s top trotters of the present era), First Batch(winner of the 1969 Great Northern Derby), Dwayne, Violetta, Walk Alone, Boy Friend, Double Cash and in Australia Royal Nibble. His daughters too are now beginning to feature as the dams of winners, this term’s smart juveniles Bolton Byrd, Kiatina and in Australia the rich Victoria Breeders’ Plate victor Valdis being three potential stars from ‘Bachelor’ mares.

Last November Bachelor Hanover endeared himself to many when he ‘officiated’ as guest of honour at a press conference called by the NZ Standardbred Breeders’ Association at the Russley Hotel (Christchurch) to announce the commencement of ‘standardbred 75’ the promotion of last autumn’s sales. Behaving with manners and dignity rarely displayed by humans, ‘Bachelor’ in his specially improvised stall in a corner of the conference room, seemed somehow to sense that he was the most important being present as he quietly dined from his feeder after being presented with a beautifully inscribed dress rug. 

Bachelor Hanover has been buried near the main entrance of Lantana Stud and a headstone mounted in a scree garden is to be set above the plot. His male line is being carried on by Bashful Hanover who has already sired winners in Australia, Fernside Bachelor who stands at Keith Powell’s Westport establishment and Adios Bachelor who is based at Alister Kerslake’s Highbank property, while doubtlessly both Noodlum and Bachelor Star will be heavily patronised if and when they are made available to the nation’s breeders.

The NZ standardbred breeding industry is deeply indebted to Jim Dalgety for importing and making available such a wonderful stallion as Bachelor Hanover, for to prosper harness racing needs crowd drawing news making champions and what more could ‘Bachelor’ do but give us Noodlum and Arapaho. 

Credit: Peter Larkin writing in NZ Trotguide 24 July 75

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