BLAST FROM THE PAST
GEORGE YOUNGSON: Southland Stud-Master
Mr George Lindsay Youngson, who died in Gore last month at the age of 91, made an invaluable contribution to standardbred breeding in Southland and NZ with imported sires like Dillon Hall, Hal Tryax, Sandydale and others. Mr Youngson's death severs one of the last links for present day trotting men with the pioneer breeders of yesteryear, who did so much to lay the concrete foundations on which Southland's world-wide reputation as a standardbred nursery has been developed and capitalised on.
Mr Youngson was 22 when he came to NZ with his brother John, from Aberdeen, Scotland, where he was bought up. For several years he worked as a farm hand and ploughman in the Riversdale district of Northern Southland. In 1914, his brother John imported four Clydesdale stallions and the brothers, then based at Wendon, near Riversdale, travelled them around neighbouring faming communities as breeding stallions. Some years ago Mr Youngson stated that the work was particularly onerous and, more so, dangerous, taking into account the strength and sometimes vicious traits the powerful Clydesdale stallions could reveal. He mated many of the mares at district stockyards and hotels where broodmare owners and farmers often gathered.
In 1920, when he was 32, Mr Youngson bought the standardbred stallion Harold Direct from the Cody brothers of Riversdale, and travelled him about for stud purposes at a fee of only five quineas. Mr Youngson's next stud venture in 1928 was the fine Australian pacer Happy Voyage, when he was still domiciled in the Wendon district. Soon after, Mr Youngson met the late Sir John McKenzie's private trainer, Robert Plaxio, an American horseman, who did much to influence him to considering importing American sires. Plaxio, in fact, suggested Adioo Guy, whom he imported in 1929. At 19, Adioo Guy was four years older than Mr Youngson believed he was. Adioo Guy's departure for NZ was delayed a season. In that last season in America, Adioo Guy sired Adioo Volo, dam later of the immortal Adios. Adioo Guy, who died after four years with Mr Youngson, had a respectable percentage of success from the opportunities he received.
In the late 1920s Mr Youngson visited England to buy another Clydesdale stallion and, seeing the progeny of the American standardbred sire Wellington Direct soon after imported that horse. Frank Dewey, another American horse, followed in 1930. Mr Youngson's next importation was the Abbedale horse Sandydale, sire of General Sandy and Captain Sandy, and maternal sire of Johnny Globe. That successful stallion was soon passed on to noted Oamaru breeder Mr Johnny Johnson.
Dillon Hall was imported to NZ by Mr Youngson during World War 2. The son of The Laurel Hall and the great racemare Margaret Dillon was the first 2:00 pacer imported to NZ and topped the NZ sires' list in the 1948-49 season with the winners of 124 races and 275 placegetters. Dillon Hall carried on to top the NZ broodmare sires' list five times, which has recently been acclaimed as a remarkable feat for a sire who was only around for 15 years. Robin Dundee, Parlez Vous, Lunar Chance and Bay Foyle were only four top pacers out of mares by Dillon Hall, who also figures prominently in the pedigrees of Black Watch, Tobias, Lord Module and countless others.
Logan Derby, the sire of Johnny Globe, was Mr Youngson's next stud venture but better was to follow in the Tryax horse Hal Tryax, a horse he didn't really want but finally agreed to import relatively cheaply. Hal Tryax's career as a sire has been acclaimed as one of the most colourful and tragic in NZ breeding history. The first 2:00 3-year-old pacer imported to this country, Hal Tryax topped the NZ sires' list in the 1963-64 season with only three crops of racing age. His progeny included the first standardbred millionaire in the world, Cardigan Bay, champion racemare Robin Dundee and other top performers of the calibre of Tactile, Holy Hal, Blue Prince, Jurist, King Hal and so on. Although his daughters were relatively few in number, they made an outstanding contribution as matrons. One of the best performers from a daughter of Hal Tryax has been the champion Young Quinn. Tragically, Hal Tryax soon after became infertile and after topping the sires' list in the 1963-64 season he was pensioned off to The Chaslands, where he is still in retirement at the age of 33.
The noted broodmare Rustic Maid, whom Mr Youngson bought from the Canterbury horseman, the late Mr Bill Morland, was one of the most successful matrons in Southland breeding history, leaving Chamfer (1950 NZ Cup and later champion Australian sire), Free Fight (NZ Derby), Highland Scott (nine wins), Congruent (good sire in Aust), Slavonic (NZ Sapling Stakes) and others. One of her daughters, Scottish Lady, won the NZ Derby, and, in turn, left two Great Northern Derby winners, Scottish Brigade and Gentry, both later successful sires.
In earlier years Mr Youngson was involved in the importation and development of small grass seeds.
As long as there is trotting in Southland, George Youngson's influence, together with that of the stallions he imported and stood, will always be of marked significance. The light harness industry owes much to pioneer breeders of his foresight, enthusiasm and successful involvement.
Credit: Don Wright writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 9Apr80