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JOHNNY GLOBE: 1954 NZ Trotting Cup


In 1954, Johnny Globe was a 7-year-old and making his fourth attempt at the New Zealand Cup. He had been a good and close second to Van Dieman as a 4-year-old; sensationally collapsed the following year when a hot favourite, and second from 60 yards to Adorian the year before.

He was off 48 yards this time, but such was the quality of the field before him, Johnny Globe was only given a sentimental chance of winning, particularly as Rupee was among those off the front. The record of first starters during the first half century of the Cup was overwhelming and Rupee was among those along with the tough and in-form Denbry and the Australian champion Ribands, who would be handled by Sydney's Jack Watts from 18 yards for trainer Charlie Muddle.

The stellar field also included previous winners Adorian and Mobile Globe and subsequent winner Our Roger along with Soangetaha, Tactician, Vedette and an evergreen and notoriously unsound 8-year-old Young Charles. But Rupee dominated the discussions and 'Ribbonwood' summed it up in the NZ Trotting Calendar a week earlier..."With the possible exception of Indianapolis and Highland Fling, no pacer has arrived in Cup class with more convincing credentials than those held by Rupee." A 5-year-old horse by the NZ Derby winner Gold Chief and bred from a line of unnamed mares by Ashburton's Jack Grice, Rupee had won 10 of 12 starts going into the Cup and been most unlucky to have been beaten in the other two.

His unbeaten run had been ended the previous Easter at Addington, going down by half a head to Excelsa after being three-wide without cover for the last mile and pushed four and five-wide on the home turn. At the traditional Cup lead-up meeting in August, Rupee had made his Cup class rivals "look like hacks" in the Louisson, although Johnny Globe gave him a 60-yard start and was third, beaten less than three lengths. In the National Handicap however, Ruree and Doody Townley ran into a "copper-fastened pocket" and didn't get clear until the race was over, finishing third to Denbry and Our Roger with Young Charles fourth from 24 yards. The New Zealand Cup would be his next race.

Wrote Ribbonwood..."Rupee is a perfect beginner, as smooth a mover in the thick of a race or anywhere else for that matter as we have seen, nothing upsets him, and with any sort of run his dazzling brilliance should carry him through."

Rupee was selected to beat Ribands, who came to New Zealand with a record of 1:58.7 at Harold Park, which was only a fraction outside the world record of 1:58 3/5 for a half-mile track set by Hi Lo's Forbes in America the previous year, and proven two-miler Denbry, a son of 1941 Cup winner Josedale Grattan and a close relation maternally to the 1953 winner, Adorian.

The pre-race hype was about the height of Rupee's career however. He was unsound and raced just once more that season, beating Tactician in the Electric Stakes at Addington over Easter, and while he won fresh-up in the next two seasons, that was about all.

Rupee had been the hottest favourite on record in the Cup, carrying £4719 to win on-course compared to £1783 for the public's second elect, but sentimental favourite Johnny Globe. But when the dust had settled, Johnny Globe's win had been the most popular ever witnessed at Addington, surpassing the scenes when the grand old trotter Monte Carlo won the first Cup in 1904. Roll upon roll of cheering broke out some time before he reached the winning post and continued as he returned to the birdcage. Hundreds of people swarmed over the rails from the inside of the track and massed along the bircage fence to pay homage to the most idolised horse in light-harness history.

Wrote Ribbonwood..."World's record pacing figures of 4:07 3/5 were returned by the indomitable dynamo of character and courage, Johnny Globe, in wrestling New Zealand Cup honours from Young Charles and Rupee after the most scorching and thrilling stayers' epic in harness racing the world over. And his trainer/driver, D G Nyhan, richly deserved all the compliments and congratulations showered upon him. Nyhan had come in for some trenchant criticism of his driving of Johnny Globe in some of his past races. Whether it was all merited is of no moment now. On Tuesday, Don's handling of 'Johnny' was in every sense a masterpiece: the perfect understanding and harmony between horse and driver was an inspiration."

To put Johnny Globe's performance in perspective, the world record had belonged to Highland Fling at 4:10 3/5, an adjusted time from 60 yards, meaning the pace off the front in 1948 had been around 4:16. That time bettered Haughty's race and world record of 4:13 2/5, achieved in 1943 from 36 yards. The gross time in 1954 was 4:11 3/5, from which four seconds was deducted for Johnny Globe's 48-yard handicap.

Johnny Globe actually took six seconds to make up his handicap and was timed post-to-post in the "incredible" time of 4:05 3/5 - the fastest two miles ever recorded at that time was Greyhound's time-trial of 4:06 at the Indianapolis 'speedway' in 1939, when two-mile races for pacers and trotters were not actually uncommon in North America. Johnny Globe's time of 4:07 3/5 would remain the New Zealand Cup record for 26 years, until Hands Down recorded 4:07.2 in 1980, and the national two-mile record until metrics were introduced and then Young Quinn paced 4:06.7 for 3200m during the 1975 Inter-Dominions in Auckland.

Denbry and Ribands broke badly at the start and were soon out of it, while Rupee also tangled away, but soon recovered and took up the running from Star Rosa after half a mile, followed by Tactician, Young Charles, Our Roger, Laureldale, Petite Yvonne, Soangetaha, Thelma Globe, Adorian, Au Revoir and Johnny Globe. Tactician then took over down the back to maintain the pace and positions remained the same until Johnny Globe commenced a three-wide run with a lap to go.

He was sixth and wide at the half and fourth into line as Tactician swung for home from Young Charles and Rupee on the fence. Tactician soon caved in and Young Charles took over and momentarily looked like winning, as Rupee was denied a gap and had to swing to the outside of Johnny Globe. It made no difference though - Johnny Globe would not be denied and won by half a length over the brave Young Charles, with Rupee finishing on for third a half a length away, perhaps a little unlucky but having had his chance all the same, with a space back to Our Roger and the rest filing in with some difficulty. All the honours were however with Johnny Globe, who was decorated with a garland of flowers and paraded down the straight before "hundreds of his enthusiastic admirers who flocked round him, clapping and cheering him on his way."

"Not even in the United States, the acknowledged home and stronghold of the harness racehorse, has there ever been a distance race to compare with the sizzling marathon so bravely sealed by the dapper little personality horse from Templeton," wrote Ribbonwood.

Johnny Globe was by little Logan Derby, a champion son of Globe Derby, and he was his third consecutive grandson to score, following Springfield Globe's sons Mobile Globe and Adorian. He was from Sandfast, by Sandydale from the American pacing mare Slapfast, a yearling record-holder imported by Sir John McKenzie. Slapfast had been sent up for auction at Tattersalls in 1935 and brought only 12gns. She was eventually passed on to F E Ward of Pahiatua, who bred Sandfast and Johnny Globe.

Nyhan bought Johnny Globe as a 10-month-old colt for £50, and the Cup was his 26th win and took his earnings to £32,395 and close to Highland Fling's record of £32,920. Johnny Globe was far from finished though of course. Three-days later he toyed with the same field in the NZ Free-For-All, racing clear of Ribands, Laureldale, Petite Yvonne and Au Revoir, who finished almost in line but some distance from Johnny Globe. His 2:33 3/5 for the mile and a half from a stand broke his own national record of 2:34 and was one of just six such records he held at that point in time.

Later that season, Johnny Globe was a desperately unlucky second in the Inter-Dominion in Auckland, beaten a head by Tactician from the back mark of 48 yards. A star 4-year-old in Caduceus and Doug Watts had taken the field through the first mile and a half in a pedestrian 3:20 3/5, and Tactician's time of 4:19 3/5 from 18 yards reflected what had merely been a sprint for home. Johnny Globe, back on the fence at the half and checked by the galloping Our Roger soon after, went very wide for a run on the home turn and almost overcame the herculean task before him.

Johnny Globe would retire as a 9-year-old as the winner of 34 races (including a record 15 Free-For-Alls) from 99 starts and £42,887, a record for a standardbred of thoroughbred raced solely in New Zealand and only exceeded marginally by Captain Sandy. And he would sire from his first crop for the Nyhans the two-time New Zealand Cup winner and champion, Lordship, who would be the horse to rewrite most of his achievements and records.

Credit: Frank Marrion writing in HRWeekly 8Jun06

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