A YEAR OF SIGNIFICANCE

A year before the outbreak of the Second World War (1939), harness racing worldwide tasted a year of considerable achievement whether in Australasia, Europe or North America.

AUSTRALASIA –

Among the more significant events of 1938 in Australasian harness racing were :

Christchurch Interdominions – overall third but first Interdominion Championship held in New Zealand at Addington Raceway. Parisienne (1933f Rey De Oro/Yenot) won the Sapling Stakes and NZ/GN Derbies before taking the 1938 Inter Dominion Championship on points after winning three heats and finishing second to Pot Luck in the Grand Final. This helped her become leading money earner of the year. She later founded one of the greatest maternal families in Australasia (refer Harnessbred.com article of 3 April 2019 on family of Bessie B).

Notably U Scott (see below) won a heat at the 1938 ID’s and Indianapolis (1929 Wrack/Estella Amos, 2:00.4TT), the first three time NZ Cup winner in consecutive years (1934, 1935, 1936) reserved his best for Grand Final day by taking out the second ID Consolation, £450, 1m 5 furlongs (60yds) in 3:33.0 for tr Jack Fraser jnr/dr Doug Watts. He won by a head from Reporter having been off the winning list since his third successive NZ Cup eighteen months earlier. This was his final victory of twenty seven which in addition to three NZ Cups, included GN Derby, Auckland Cup, NZFFA and numerous time trials cumulating in his 2:00.4TT mile at Addington during 1936 NZ Cup carnival (three days after winning two mile NZ Cup)

Lawn Derby (1930h Robert Derby/Roselawn) – first two minute horse outside North America when he paced free legged 1:59.4TT on 11 November 1938 at Addington during the NZ Cup carnival. Lawn Derby’s thirty one successes included the NSW Derby and an ID heat at Wayville, Adelaide, SA. As a sire, Lawn Derby among his 270+ winners sired the first two Australian two minute horses in champions Ribands (thirty wins; 1:58.7TT at Harold Park 27 January 1954; Hunter Cup, second ID Pacers Final) and Avian Derby (2:00.0TT at Harold Park 16 April 1952, first two minute horse in Australia; Hunter Cup, ID Pacers Final) as well as NSW Derby winners Belgrave, Johnnie Lawn, Miss Lawnham (2:03¾TT at Harold Park, 24 February 1945) and Peak Hill (sire of champion pacer Silver Peak).

Lawn Derby’s dam Roselawn also left classy pacer Van Derby who set a NZ race mile record of 2:01.5, 29 December 1938 at Alexandra Park followed by a world grass track mile record of 2:00.4TT on 11 February 1939 at Alexandra Park (also held world 1½m record). Van Derby was the sire of 313 winners including ID champions Bandbox and Young Pedro (two SA Cups); dam sire of Astrology (TAS/VIC Oaks, TAS Derby), Bold David (ID Pacers Final; forty one wins), Perfect Lass (NSW Derby/Oaks), Timmine (Australasian Trotting Championship twice)

Light Brigade (1937 Volomite/Spinster) – purchased by Sir John McKenzie at 1938 Wallnut Hall Farm yearling sale Light Brigade was one of the most successful sires ever to stand in New Zealand. His breeding was that of a superior trotter with sire Volomite eventually leaving thirty in two minutes although at the time of Light Brigade’s purchase Volomite had just the one. His dam was the incomparable Spinster who also left The Old Maid, dam of Bachelor Hanover, Dancer Hanover, Terka Hanover, Thorpe Hanover, Tootsie Hanover amongst her numerous progeny.

Light Brigade served a few mares as a five year old including Rustic Maid, the resultant foal being Free Fight (NZ Derby, sire of Dullard Cup winner Panthers Flight; dam sire of Governor Frost, GN Derby/Messenger). Light Brigade was converted to pace by trainer George Noble starting his career as a six year old, winning his third start over two miles and a further three with two placed efforts from six starts at seven.

Like U Scott and Globe Derby below, it is impossible to go into any depth regarding the winners Light Brigade was to sire (over 375). Leading sire on four occasions and second nine times, he was leading trotting sire in NZ for the period from 1954/5 to 1966/7 inclusive (also 1952/3; 1969/70) and leading broodmare sire eight times.

Among many good trotters he sired were Ordeal (first NZ trotter to break two minutes, T1:59.3US; Dominion Hcp, Rowe Cup), Battle Cry (ID Trotters Final, Rowe Cup, won twenty three races), Fair Isle (Rowe Cup, Dominion Hcp), Recruit (Dominion Hcp, two Rowe Cups), and top broodmare When among them.

Pacers to make their mark included NZ Derby winners Bon Ton/Fallacy/Good Chase/Scottish Brigade; Lookaway (NZ Cup/FFA), Soangetaha (GN Derby, two Auckland Cups), Thunder (NZ/Easter Cups), Vedette (ID Pacers Final, NZFFA).

Sons of Light Brigade to make good sires included Allegiance, Ardri, Attack, Bold Brigade, Daring Deed, Fallacy, Flight Commander, Forward, Free Fight, Gallantry Grand Monarch, Local Light, Royal Dollar, Scottish Brigade, Southern Brigade. His daughters Tactics (Deft/Tactile) and La Mignon (Garcon Roux/Roydon Roux) were leading lights in the broodmare paddock – his magnificent record as a broodmare sire contains far too many well known names to list.

At the same time that McKenzie purchased Light Brigade, he also invested in two further foals – Spangled Maiden (1937f Volomite/Margaret Spangler) and New Fancy (1937f Volomite/Lema Moko), who both founded good maternal families in NZ

U Scott (1932h Scotland/Lillian Hilta) – first winners sired by outstanding stallion U Scott appeared on the track during 1938 (1938/9 season), placing him forty seventh on sires list. U Scott stood at Roydon Lodge Stud where he was leading sire on nine occasions, equalling the then record held by Jack Potts (Vance Hanover, ten) and led the trotting sire ranks on five occasions. U Scott was still on the racetrack in 1938, a year where he won an ID Pacers heat at Addington. Trotting bred, he trotted T2:11.5US at two but converted to the pace he won eleven from thirty starts in NZ (2:08.5).

Sire of four hundred plus winners (130 plus won in Australia) –

  • Trotters of the calibre of Aerial Scott (Rowe Cup, ID Trotters Final), Highland Kilt (sire of Highland Flight; dam sire of Nigel Craig), Sandan, Barrier Reef/Lady Scott/Min Scott (Dominion Hcp), Fantom (two Rowe Cups, Dominion Hcp), Scotleigh (Rowe Cup)
  • Champion pacers Caduceus (1:57.6TT, NZ Derby, Auckland Cup, NZFFA twice, ID Pacers Final), Highland Fling (1:57.6TT, two NZ Cups, NZFFA, sire), Orbiter (1:58.8, $380,894), Arania (1:57.0USTT, NZ Oaks) in addition to Burns Night/Royal Minstrel/Scottish Lady (NZ Derby), Portree (WA Cup), Prince Polka/Scottish Command/Unite (Auckland Cup), Van Dieman (NZ Cup)

Siring sons included Clan McTavish, Grand Scott, Last Scott, Nick Scott, Noble Scott(winner of six races, leading sire Australia six consecutive seasons, three hundred plus winners, one two minute James Scott – ID Pacers Final, sire of 248 winners), Scottish Command (sire of Black Watch, Sole Command, Trusty Scot; dam sire of Jack Morris, Markovina, Scotch Tar), Scottish Star, Scotty Belmont, Van Dieman (sire of Van Glory, Vanadium), Young Charles (dam of Sapling, Young Quinn; dam sire of Young Mister Charles).

Daughters who continued the legacy included Arania, Petite Yvonne, Samantha, Scottish Lady, Smart Fancy, Suzendy – many of these daughters were dams of two minute horses. U Scott was ten times leading broodmare sire in NZ (900+ credits) and in Australia was leading BM sire for first six seasons stats recorded in Australia. U Scott over Light Brigade mares or Light Brigade over U Scott mares were golden crosses of their era.

Pacing Power (1938h Jack Potts/Free Advice) – born in 1938 winning 1941 NZ Derby/1944 NZFFA among twelve wins together with two third placings in NZ Cup; sire of NZ Oaks winner Powerful Lady, Hycraft WA Cup; dam sire of High Millie NSW Oaks

Raider (1929h Peter Volo/Nelda Dillon) – Edgar Tatlow’s purchase of stallion Raider (dual gaited 1:59½US, T2:01½US) from Walnut Hall for stud duties in Tasmania (Hagley Stud) occurred in 1938. From the same male sire line as U Scott (Scotland) and Light Brigade (Volomite/Peter Volo) all tracing back through Peter the Great to Happy Medium.

A leading two and three year old pacer in North America, Raider’s wins included Review/Matron Stakes and Kentucky/Horseman Futurities – 3 with a later conversion to the trot. His best mile times pacing and trotting meant he was world champion dual gaited stallion for sixteen years from 1934 to 1950. Before leaving North America for Australia, Raider sired notable pacers Galloway, good winner and dam of Dale Frost (sire of immortal Meadow Skipper, Fulla Napoleon) and Raider Frost (Cane Pace; sire in Australia of King Frost; dam sire Frosty Imp, Karalta Gift). On arrival late in the breeding season in Australia, Raider sired three foals in Sky Raider (sire of over one hundred winners; Tennessee Sky, NSW Derby, ID Pacers Final; Sibelia Hunter Cup), Paraider (dam sire of Leroy, NZ Derby) and Raiders Choice.

Leading sire for eight consecutive seasons (winners basis) from 1947/8 – 1954/55 in Australia (best season 130 – 1951/2), he left over 350 winners with three of his sons in particular breeding on in Lawn Raider (Cocky Raider, Idle Raider), Raiarmagh (SA Derby, sire of Astophe), Sky Raider (see above). Raider also sired Floodlight (Hunter Cup) and three foals from Attain (Kellett, Loyal Raider, Ativolo); dam sire of Chamfers Star (ID Pacers Final, TAS Pacing Championship). Raider over Globe Derby mares was a particularly successful breeding cross.

Globe Derby – Twilight year (s) of fabulous stallion Globe Derby’s career – winner of fifteen races, sire of 315 winners and leading sire for five consecutive seasons 1937/8 – 1941/2 don’t do justice to his record. It is impossible to give even a brief rundown on his successful sons and daughters.

Instead we’ll concentrate on his 1938 achievements first : Globe Derby was grand sire of sons of Walla Walla who won major Derbies – Radiant Walla NSW/VIC and Royal Walla SA Derby; and then review his record covering the initial five years of Interdominion Pacing Championships :

  • 1936 : Evicus (champion on points, daughter)/Logan Derby (Grand Final, son) plus sons won five of nine heats
  • 1937 : Robert Derby, grandson won a heat
  • 1938 : no successes
  • 1939 : Springfield Globe (champion on points/final, son) plus three heats won by sons, one by grandson from six heats
  • 1940 : Logan Derby (champion on points, son) plus four sons won heats and grandsons won two heats out of total nine heats

And if didn’t finish there with considerable family success in later ID Championships.

EUROPE –

The major race in Europe in 1938 was the Prix d’Amerique held in Paris at the Vincennes course. The winner was North American bred entire De Sota (1934h Peter Volo/Symphonia; T2:02½US) who would go onto win this event again in 1939. Exported to Italy, he was the sire of Group One winners in Italy : Assisi (Premio Tino Triossi – 4), Contessa De Sota (GP Continentale 3/4), Dakota (Italian Derby), Gay Song/Ubertide (GP Nazionale – 3) and Good Report (see Rosalind).

NORTH AMERICA –

North American harness racing enjoyed considerable success both at a local level and on the worldwide scene with significant achievements in the space of a week in 1938 with mile records by four well known standardbreds – Billy Direct, Greyhound, Her Ladyship and Rosalind :

Billy Direct (1934h Napoleon Direct/Gay Forbes by Malcolm Forbes) – at three, he equalled Directum’s race mile record of 1:58.0 (29 September 1937, Lexington; also 3yo record until 1951) set in 1914. Set world pacing record for stallions/geldings of 1:55.0USTT as a four year old on 28 September 1938 at Lexington. Billy Direct was accompanied by two pacemakers in setting a record that was not beaten until Adios Butler’s 1:54.3USTT twenty two years later (4 October 1960, Lexington). Note – Adios Harry equalled the 1:55.0 in a race mile at Vernon Downs on 16 July 1955. Billy Direct held both the time trial and race mile records concurrently for several years.

Billy Direct raced free legged throughout his career following victories in his first two two year old starts. He was the winner of forty seven of his fifty five starts, unplaced in only two starts ($12,010), winner of Geers Stakes at Good Time Park, Goshen together with several Grand Circuit FFA’s. He paced six two minute miles; three in time trials; twice at Red Mile Lexington and Altamont; once each at Goshen and Indianapolis, in all cases driven by Victor Fleming.

Seven removes from Hambletonian on his paternal side tracing through Direct (dual gaited) to Dictator who was an outstanding trotting son of Hambletonian. Dam Gay Forbes (2:07½) left another two minute horse in Forbes Direct, her first foal by Napoleon Direct (1:59¾USTT) and hence full brother of Billy Direct. Full sister Gay Direct (2:11.0US), winner bred on and half-brother Prince Direct (2:08½US) sired Stewart Direct, winner of Inglewood Pace at Santa Anita Park, California.

Billy Direct retired to stud at the completion of his four year old season and in an all too short career in the stallion barn produced a number of outstanding pacers (sixteen two minute performers) and sires prior to his death at the early age of thirteen (1947). These included :

  • Tar Heel (1:57.0USTT, $119,148), won 35 of 60 races, Little Brown Jug; leading sire in North America – sire of Laverne Hanover (Adios/Tattersall Paces, Little Brown Jug, Prix D’Ete), Nansemond (Little Brown Jug, sire of Nat Lobell), Hazel Hanover – dam of Holmes Hanover, first to sire 1,000+ winners in NZ and a number of sires that stood at stud in Australasia – NZ :  Armbro Hurricane, Eagle Armbro, Sly Yankee; Australia : Kentucky. Tar Heel who lived to age 34 was dam sire of Boydon Hanover, Bret Hanover, In The Pocket, Keystone Ore, Ralph Hanover, Romalie Hanover, Romeo Hanover, Romulus Hanover, Silent Majority, Silk Stockings, Tarport Hap, Vicar Hanover

 

  • Direct Rhythm (1:56.1USTT, $171,802), fastest son of Billy Direct, successful sire including Tarport Kid who stood at Glenfern Stud in Australia (sire of Derby winners Kelly Kid VIC, Rocket Glenfern QLD) and dam sire of Fourjay, VIC/SA Trotters Derbies

 

  • Dudley Hanover ( 1:57.4US, $214,820), Little Brown Jug; sire

 

  • Ensign Hanover (1:59.4US, $81,070; won 49 of 74 races), Little Brown Jug; dam sire of Strike Out (1:56.3US, $454,064, Little Brown Jug, Adios/Tattersall Paces, sire of Hot Hitter (1:54.0US, $963,574), Little Brown Jug, dam sire of Deal Direct

 

  • Garrison Hanover, leading sire in NZ on three occasions (stakes and winners) – Caledonian Garrison/Cardinal Garrison/Speedy Guest (GN Derbies), Garry Dillon (NZ Cup), Gary Rowan/Kiwi Hanover (SA Cup), Main Adios/New Law (NZ Derby), Waitaki Hanover (GN Derby, NZFFA, Auckland/Hunter Cups); dam sire of Albas Reign, Balgove, Hilarious Guest, Toliver Gigi

Billy Direct was a phenomenal broodmare sire with his daughters (45 two minute horses) leaving horses of the calibre of Adios Butler, Bullet Hanover, Bye Bye Byrd, Countess Vivian, Sampson Direct together with many stallions imported to Australasia

Greyhound (1932g Guy Abbey/Elizabeth by Peter The Great) – set world trotting record when aged six for stallions/geldings of T1:55¼USTT on 29 September 1938, at Lexington day after Billy Direct’s record setting pacing mile. Greyhound’s record time was not beaten until Nevele Pride’s T1:54.4USTT, thirty one years later at Indiana State Fairgrounds (31 August 1969).

Greyhound (the “Grey Ghost”) was the winner of seventy one of his eighty two heats (thirty three of thirty seven races; three of four defeats at two; sixteen classic races), once unplaced ($54,505) in a career that spanned years 1934 to 1940 – at two 12/18 including WR T2:04¾US for gelding (Syracuse, 5 September 1934); at three 18/20 including his first two minute mile at Springfield (21 August 1935) and at four 15/17. In total, Greyhound trotted twenty five two minute miles, driven on all occasions by Septimus (Sep) Palin, sixteen recorded in time trials, two of which hitched double to brilliant mare Rosalind, herself a world record holder (see below) and at one time he held fourteen world records.

The winner of a number of Group and feature races, Greyhound’s biggest victory came in America’s prestige Group One event, the three year old Hambletonian. Run in one mile heats at Good Time Park, Goshen, Greyhound won in straight heats; the first by a neck from Peter Tipton in a race record T2:02¼US and the second by twenty five lengths. Other notable mile times : T1:56¾USTT (20 September 1937, equalling Peter Manning’s time set in 1922), T:56.0USTT at Lexington (27 September 1937), T1:57½USTT at Old Orchard Beach (27 July 1939). In 1937, half mile track mile record reduced to T1:59¾ at Goshen and one and a half mile record of 3:02½US set at Indianapolis. In August 1939, hitched double with Rosalind (see later) setting a new record of T1:58¼US for a pair and later set a two mile record of T4:06.0US breaking Peter Manning’s T4:10¼US. In his farewell performance at Lexington in 1940, Greyhound established a world saddle trot record of T2:01¾ ridden by saddle bred show horse rider Francis Dodge Johnson.

Greyhound’s sire Guy Abbey (Guy Axworthy), T2:06¾US was second to Spencer in the 1928 Hambletonian. Apart from Greyhound Guy Abbey sired Calumet Evelyn, a dominant pacer during the mid-nineteen thirties – Kentucky/Horseman Futurities, Grand Circuit FFA’s and Castleton Trot. Calumet Evelyn was a dual gaited two minute horse pacing 1:59¼US and trotting T1:59½US.

Greyhound’s dam was the unraced grey Elizabeth, one of the last foals sired by Peter the Great and a full sister to Peter The Brewer (T2:02½US). She produced a second Hambletonian winner in Yankee Maid and proved a great broodmare at Almahurst Farm.

Greyhound was named Trotter of the Century by both Hall of Fame (1971) and Best Bets (1999), official journal of USTA. He survived until thirty three years of age (1965), dying four years before Nevele Pride bettered his mile record

Her Ladyship (1933f Abbedale/La Paloma, $9,142) – world pacing record for mares set the day after Greyhound’s and two days after Billy Direct’s records – 30 September 1938, she recorded 1:56¾USTT at Lexington which was not lowered until three year old Tarport Lib’s 1:56.2US on 7 October 1966.

This twenty eight year record came after Her Ladyship had already paced eight sub two minute miles earlier in 1938. These included equalling or reducing the then mares pacing record of T1:58¼US established by Margaret Dillon in 1922 (1:58¼ race miles on 17 August – Springfield and 31 August Syracuse; 1:57½TT on 12 September Indiana State Fairgrounds). In 1939, she recorded the year’s fastest pacing mile of 1:59¼US at Cold Spring Park, Milwaukee. Her Ladyship was driven in the majority of her two minute miles by Sep Palin and she won fifty four of her eighty nine starts.

Her Ladyship’s sire Abbedale was the grandsire of champion racehorse and sire Adios. Her dam La Paloma was a good winner in 2:01¾US, by Walter Direct, the sire of Napoleon Direct whose leading son was Billy Direct (see above). Her Ladyship left two on the two minute list – Phantom (1:58.3US, filly who won Little Brown Jug heat) and Gosling (1:59.3US). She was the sire of Goose Bay (2:00.2US), who left over one hundred and fifty winners in both North America and Australia – sire of outstanding pacer Bay Foyle (NZFFA/Miracle Mile), Scotch Goose (VIC Oaks) and dam sire of Action Advice (NSW Derby)

Rosalind (1933f Scotland/Alma Lee) – world trotting record for mares set on 4 October 1938 at Lexington – T1:56¾USTT ($68,993) recorded as a five year old. She had earlier broken Nedda’s record of T1:58¼US (4 October 1922) on 31 August 1938 at Syracuse (T1:57¼US), 30 September at Lexington (T1:57.0US race mile) before her T1:56¾USTT time.

The winner of twenty four of thirty two starts including the 1936 Hambletonian, the year after Greyhound, she also won both the two and three year old Kentucky Futurities at Lexington. Hitched to a double harness in August 1939 with Greyhound, they broke the twenty seven year old record set in 1912 of T2:03¼US. Initially they smashed the record by 4¼ seconds (T1:59.0US) while five days later the “King” (Greyhound) and “Queen” (Rosalind) reduced this record to T1:58¼US. This record to the best of my knowledge still stands and is unlikely to ever be beaten. Rosalind retired to Hanover Shoe Farms where she died at seventeen years of age.

  • Dam Alma Lee (T2:04¾US at three) was exported to Europe depriving USA of a mare of exceptional talent. She did leave Warwell Worthy, dam of Hambletonian heat winner and outstanding sire Worthy Boy in USA (sire of Stars Pride; dam sire of Race Time, Storm Damage) and Deanna, fastest two year old trotter of 1945 (1 October 1945, T2:04.0US), multiple group race winner including The Standardbred -2T at Delaware County Fair (Little Brown Jug, ½ mile track). In Europe she bred a number of winners including fillies who bred on. Australasia benefitted from the deeds of two of her sons both in the 1950/60’s when imports from USA were not available

 

  • Floridro (dual Group one winner), successful sire in Australia ( Dusty Miller, won more races [27} at Melbourne Showgrounds than any other horse; dam sire of Bundadoon Prince, Dullard Cup)
  • Medoro successful sire in New Zealand imported in 1950 (Count Mirando, Jenny, Leyoro, Meadow Royal, Medonna all Group One winners in Australia; Single Medoro NZ Derby)

 

Good Report (grand dam Alma Lee) stood at stud in NZ and Australia; sire of Annual Report (Dominion Hcp), Timmine (Australasian Trotting Championship twice); dam sire of El Cordobies, Purple Note, Fiery Luck.

Rosalind’s grand dam (Jane Revere) and third dam (Volga E; Kentucky Futurity – 3T, fastest three year old trotter) both won Kentucky Futurity – 2T and were the fastest two year old trotters of their year.

 

The famous quartet of Billy Direct, Greyhound, Her Ladyship and Rosalind managed over the space of eight days to become world mile record holders for their respective sexes and gait. Their improvement of world mile records on no less than five occasions over eight days, is a feat that surely will never be equalled or bettered in such a manner.

 

Whilst only one year was selected at random, it can be clearly seen that 1938 was a year of considerable significance in harness racing. Mind you, 1939 saw the birth of the legendary American stallion Adios and New Zealand bred son of U Scott in Noble Scott, leading Australian sire (winners) for six consecutive seasons (1956/7 – 1961/2) …….

 

Peter Craig

11 March 2020