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SOME DUAL GAITED NZ WONDERS – part one

This is a look at a random selection of NZ horses over the past century proficient at both gaits. It contains top liners, good horses and those of a lesser capability set out within historical periods (1920’s until late 1960‘s). It does not purport to be a fully comprehensive review of all horses that have performed at both the pacing and trotting gaits.

 

Starting with arguably the prime example of a top line dual gaited horse, the only winner ever of New Zealand’s two premier races, the New Zealand Cup for pacers and the Dominion Handicap for trotters both run at Addington during NZ Cup Week.

 

WRACKLER (1925g Wrack/Trix Pointer, U302 Fanny Fern by Blind Tuckahoe), holds the unique position in NZ harness racing and one unlikely to ever be threatened, as the only horse to have won both the above two premier races. Dam Trix Pointer is the only NZ Cup winning mare to have left a NZ Cup winner.

 

In his first NZ Cup start, five year old Wrackler started from the 12 yard mark defeating Author Jinks by four lengths covering the two mile distance in 4:24.2 for trainer Don Warren, twenty two year old driver “The Maestro” Maurice Holmes and Ashburton owner Harry Nicoll. Finishing third in the NZ Free-for-All to King Pointer beaten a head and a head later in the Cup carnival. Two subsequent NZ Cup performances saw him finish fourth in a seven horse field in 1931 in Harold Logan’s first Cup win and unplaced in 1933.

 

Wrackler commenced racing as a pacer at two from the stable of Ashburton trainer Don Warren who died several years later when Wrackler was still racing. His preparation was then taken over by Jack Behrns who turned him into a top trotter. At two, he recorded two thirds, including in the Sapling Stakes to Sonoma Child. At three Wrackler won on five occasions, three in the hands of Maurice Holmes (GN/NZ Derbies, Oamaru Presidents Hcp), while Don Warren drove him in his first ever win in the Rakaia Hcp at Ashburton and a mile event (2:16 1/5) at Forbury Park.

Wrackler : GN Derby, Maurice Holmes

 

Again winning five races pacing at four from his eleven starts (third highest seasonal stake earner), the Rakaia Hcp at Ashburton off 84 yards, three wins at Alexandra Park (Ranfurly/Spring/Alexandra Hcps) and the NZ Trotting Gold Cup at Hutt Park (750 sovereigns).

 

At five, Wrackler won the NZ Cup Trial at Hutt Park, the second division and final of the 1930 NZ Cup at Addington. Three wins from ten starts again placed him third highest seasonal stake earner, having placed fourth off 60 yards in that seasons Auckland Cup won by Carmel. At six in the 1931/2 season, Wrackler placed second in his NZ Cup heat to Free Advice, fourth to Harold Logan in NZ Cup final and was unplaced from 84 yards to Royal Silk in the Auckland Cup.

Wrackler, NZ Cup

Following this unsuccessful Auckland Cup campaign and Don Warren’s death, Wrackler switched to the trotting gait. First start as a trotter yielded a second off 48 yards to White Satin in the Summer Hcp at Addington at the end of March 1932. Mixing gaits with several unplaced starts as a pacer, he recorded his first win as a trotter beating the pacers over two miles at a special relief meeting (depression years) at Addington in July 1932 (Owners and Breeders Hcp, T4:29 3/5).

 

At seven, in November 1932, Maurice Holmes handled Wrackler in his Dominion Hcp success, winning by two lengths in a time of T4:26 1/5 for the two miles from a 60 yard handicap. Five unplaced efforts against the pacers followed before his last win in the five horse International Trotting Championship match race (Addington, February 1933). This 1½m race was run from a flying start and won in T3:18.0 (other starters were Todd Lanzia, Peterwah, Olive Nelson, Stanley T). Leading trotting stake earner for 1932/3 season Wrackler had earnings of £895.

 

Losing all semblance of form at eight, unplaced from thirteen starts, at nine failed in five attempts and at ten nine starts brought no return. As an eleven year old from the Winchmore (Ashburton) stable of Leicester (LA) Maidens, Wrackler recorded a  seventeenth and final win in the Addington Hcp, off 60 yards, beating top trotting mare Sea Gift (Dominion Hcp) by 1½ lengths in T3:20 3/5 (1½m). Finishing third to Norma Bingen in the 1936 Dominion Hcp together with a couple of further placings before being retired after a third twelve year old start.

 

Career stats showed 113 starts : 17 wins (13 pacing/4 trotting), 2:08.4/T2:12.0, £8,655. Wrackler was inducted into the NZ Trotting Hall of Fame.

 

IMPOSTER (1928g Sonoma Harvester/Driftmine, N205 Somerfields mare), proved to be the ultimate in dual gaiters when racing at Alexandra Park as both a pacer and trotter in the same afternoon on Saturday 24 April 1937 – trotting won Whitford Hcp (2m, T4:51 3/5) and two races later as a pacer won Henderson Hcp (1½m, 3:30.0). Imposter’s record showed three pacing and trotting wins having raced at both gaits throughout his career securing six wins in total for stakes of £977, T2:16¾, p3:25.0 (1½m).

A couple of dual gaited examples tracing to the blood of Globe Derby are examined next –

 

VODKA (1947g Logan Derby/Cyone Girl, U301 Kate by Highland Chief), trained at Pukekohe by Jack Hughes for Franklin Trotting Club’s founder Bill Hosking, commenced racing at two as a pacer, placing twice. Converted to the trotting gait, he broke badly at his first two attempts before winning easily at Te Awamutu (his second race of the day), the first of three consecutive victories (two in a day at Hawera a week later). After winning seven races (others at Otaki, Alexandra Park, Hutt Park twice) in his first season trotting, Hosking gifted Vodka to Jack Shaw of Worthy Queen fame in early 1952. Initially, Shaw arranged for his right hand man Nat Mackenzie to train Vodka from Riccarton stables but eventually took over developing Vodka into the country’s leading trotter. In the final couple of seasons in NZ, Vodka gave all his rivals large starts due to the enormous handicaps he was given.

Vodka and Jack Shaw

 

Vodka’s major victories included Dominion Hcp (third as seven year old), NZ Trotting FFA, four/five year old NZ and Addington Trotting Stakes, Bridgens Memorial; was runner up to Battle Cry in 1955 Auckland ID Trotters Grand Final off 36 yards; third in Rowe Cup, leading trotting stake earner in 1954 (£5,170, four wins, six placings) and inducted into NZ Hall of Fame.

Vodka at Addington

 

As an eight year old after sixteenth victory from 102 yards behind over 13 furlongs at Addington (Holmes Hcp, 11 February 1956), Vodka was taken to North America by Shaw (4,000 mile sea trip taking nearly five weeks) where he won races as a pioneer for future NZ standardbreds sold to America. Initially refused registration as not of American parentage, it was eventually permitted as Vodka S due to a Vodka racing in Canada at the time and as a nonstandard bred.

 

The first NZ standardbred to win in North America, wins came at Vernon Downs, New York (first of three on 15 June 1956 in T2:06.0), Saratoga, NY (2 wins, July 1956) and Brandywine Raceway, Delaware (1 August 1956, where Ribands won on same programme). His second win on 20 June 1956 at Vernon Downs established best time of T2:03.0US which contributed towards USA earnings of $35,963.

 

Shaw returned to NZ and Vodka continued racing in USA from the stables of Earl Nelson, winning a further four races from nineteen starts over two seasons for Nelson before fracturing a long pastern and having to be destroyed.

 

AU FAIT (1954f Johnny Globe/Dauphine, U301 Kate by Highland Chief), from the same family as Vodka, the first foal of dual gaited matron Dauphine and full sister of Dominion Hcp/ID Trot Grand Final winner Precocious. Au Fait was developed by Don Nyhan and raced initially at two as a pacer without success in a couple of starts. Switching over to a trot during a workout, Au Fait quickly showed a propensity to trot equally as fast as she could pace. Sent against time in an attempt to lower Royal Mile’s two year old trotters record (T2:16 1/5), Au Fait obliged, trotting the mile in T2:13  1/5, 28 May 1957, Addington.

Au Fait – pacing and trotting

 

Initial win as a three year old came at Kaikoura in November, after which Au Fait reverted to pacing at Addington and Rangiora without success. Further three year old successes came at Timaru and Addington (Australasian records for three year old trotters over 13 furlongs [T3:37.0] and 1½m in NZ Trotting Stakes, T3:20.0).

 

At four, first nine starts yielded three placings at which time Au Fait transferred to Bob Young’s Halswell stables winning first up for Young at Addington. At five, Au Fait progressed to open class with four victories (three Addington [Greyhound Hcp, Stewards Hcp], New Brighton).  As a six year old, victories at Forbury Park and Addington were flanked by a third in the Dominion Hcp and only four unplaced efforts from fifteen starts.

 

Final season at seven, Au Fait recorded three wins and five placings from twelve starts including prized Dominion Hcp success (same day Cardigan Bay won NZFFA on 10 November 1961 and public grandstand burned to the ground), Christchurch Hcp Trot and at Forbury Park. In April 1962, together with pacer Patchwork transported to North America having been purchased by Marty Tananbaum. Au Fait’s NZ career record stood at sixty one starts for fourteen wins and twenty three placings, T2:08.0, £9.907. Three unplaced US starts were worth $300 at which point she became a resident of Tananbaum’s White Devon Lodge producing several winners as a broodmare.

 

LIGHT VIEW (1963f Light Brigade/Loyal Estelle, N315 Betty Fashion), owned by Charlie Hunt, her dam Loyal Estelle was unraced, the only foal from non Stud Book mare Betty Scott. Broken in and initially trained by Norman Wilson until ill health meant Templeton training partners Derek Jones and Jack Grant fashioned her into one of the country’s best trotters. The winner of two races trotting at both three and four, it was decided to try her as a pacer at five as her trotting gait was not perfect at that stage (twelve pacing starts for two placings). Back trotting again at six for the balance of her career, six wins and two placings from twelve starts was a greatly improved return.

 

At seven (four wins, four placings), Light View broke Ordeal‘s NZ ten furlongs record winning a 1971 ID Trotters heat at Addington in 2:36 4/5. Retired following two placed efforts from thirteen trotting starts at eight, her fourteen trotting victories included Banks Peninsula/Canterbury Park Trotting Cups, Worthy Queen Hcp (Cup Day), heat and final of NZ Trotting Championship, Winter/Reta Peter Hcps at Addington and a Hutt Park FFA together with second and third placings in the Ordeal Trotting Cup. With fourteen wins trotting, T2:05.4, $26,755; pacing two placings, 2:09.0 placed, $320; her total earnings were $27,075 (leading trotting stake earner 1970, $14,185).

 

Dual gaited as a broodmare also leaving winners of 27 races (six winners, two trotters) including Port View (2:00.0, 7 wins, Addington Raceway filly or mare of year award winner with three wins, three seconds and three thirds – Dutch Walnut Grandmother Clock imported by Sam Ballantyne), Viewy’s Pride (five trotting wins), Cottontail (three trotting wins), Mystery Light (five wins), Alberta (four wins), View Finder (three wins).

 

 

On balance it seems that the vast majority of dual gaited horses have a propensity to trot, although there are several who performed admirably in open class events as a pacer in addition to their trotting exploits. Some northern based dual gaited horses during the 1970’s had something of a mortgage on the other premier NZ trotting event, the Rowe Cup – refer to Paulette, Miss Debra and Ritch Hill below.

 

The best examples of a dual gaited stallion in New Zealand were the stock of Great Evander, pacing bred stallion by Bill B. During the 1970’s Great Evander sired five Rowe Cup winners (Paulette, Miss Debra, Robyn Evander, Easton Light, Even Speed) in addition to other trotters such as About Now, Basil Dean, Melvander, Paula, Petite Evander and pacers Vanderford, Vandette, Dayvander, Silverdale Chief, Evanders Gift, Egmont Lad come to mind. However, it is four of his dual gaited performers that will be subject to review next.

 

LIGHT EVANDER (1962h Great Evander/Thearle, N51 Brighton Girl), bred by Frank Weaver jnr from Thearle who four foals and eight years later left champion trotting mare Petite Evander. Light Evander won nine races mixing her gaits for the Weavers, Frank senior and junior. Seven wins pacing included her most significant successes, dual wins of the Thames Goldfields Cup four years apart and two wins trotting.

Exported to North America late in her nine year old season, Light Evander was a non-winner as a trotter earning $4,903 while as twelve year old pacer, paced 2:02.2US, $22,726, making her total US earnings $27,629.

 

MILFORD BOY (1963h Great Evander/Milford Girl, N8 Hoods Polly), whose dam Milford Girl also left open class pacers Vanderford and Vandette (third dam of Chiola Cola), won seven races solely as a pacer in NZ including Cambridge Gold Cup. Sold to North America where paced 2:02.0US aged seven, $64,871 and trotted T2:03.4US aged nine, $75,907 for total USA stakes of $140,778.

 

Returning to NZ in mid 1970‘s, this colonial bred stallion left eight winners evenly split between pacers and trotters including dual gaited Milson Gold (three pacing/four trotting wins). Milford Boy was dam sire of Tanias Boy, winner of Westport and Amberley Cups.

 

MISS DEBRA (1963f Great Evander/Beverley Light, N125 Evening Sun), fine dual gaited full sister to top flight trotter Easton Light, raced by Kumeu co-owner/trainer Jack Longville, Viv Nicholson and Glen Wood. With all but her first two victories (Otaki and Waipa racecourse, Te Awamutu) achieved at Alexandra Park, Miss Debra didn’t race until aged six. Raced initially as a trotter before going on to record seven wins pacing including Franklin Cup (2 miles) and Hosking Memorial. Among six victories as a trotter were 1973 Rowe Cup (dr Paddy Timmins), Members Hcp (Auckland), two FFA’s at Alexandra Park and 2 mile heat of 1975 Auckland Trotters Interdominions (ninth in final), while beaten into second in the National Trot by full brother Easton Light. Pacing stats show from 50 starts, seven wins, 2:05.6, $8,780 and as a trotter, 53 starts, six wins, T2:10.8, $21,490, total earnings of $30,270.

 

Miss Debra produced seven foals but only one winner while her fillies did not leave

anything of note.

Paulette and Miss Debra

 

PAULETTE (1965f Great Evander/Paulina, N67 Tot Huon), whose fourth dam Tot Huon left Reta Huon, a full sister to the only trotter to win two New Zealand Pacing Cups in Reta Peter (1920. 1921). Bred and owned by Arthur Gibbons who trained him in conjunction with son Dave (trainer/driver of Idle Scott fame). Paulette’s dam Paulina won five races for the Gibbons before her tear away tactics proved her undoing, after which she became a very successful broodmare for the Gibbons family. Apart from Paulette, they included Paula, winner of fourteen races and third in Geffin’s 1971 ID Trotters Final; Paula Scott (2:00.0, GN Oaks, Franklin Cup, descendants include trotters Superbowlcheerleader, Super Command, Hot Holiday); Paul Gentry (Thames Pacing Cup) with other daughters breeding on with  descendants including Pauls Byrd, Yankee Paul, Fellas Pride, Hurricane Paul, Paul Command and from Smooth Paula descend The Orange Agent, Cincinnati Kid, Matter of Pride, Mister Veejays Fella.

 

Paulette placed on six occasions at two as a pacer, won four pacing races at three before converting to a trotter at four where a further seven victories resulted including Rowe Cup in the slow time of 4:36.4 for two miles, National Trot second heat (seventh in final), Bridgens Memorial, Association and Royal Oak Hcp Trots. Paulette’s full quota of winning performances came at Alexandra Park, a notable achievement with Dave Gibbons her constant driving companion. Career stats show : pacing, 41 starts, four wins, 2:10.4, $4,400; trotting, 32 starts, seven wins, T2:05.8, $15,565; total earnings of $19,965.

 

Paulette descendants are numerous and she is the grand dam of notably

Commander Paul (1:52.2US, $277,527), Conundrum (1:54.0US, $218,088), Game Paul (T2:02.0, $277,852, NZ Trotting Championship, ID Trotters heat, Ordeal and Banks Peninsula Trotting Cups).

 

 

 

Peter Craig

 

17 May 2017

 

 

 

 

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