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1907 NZ TROTTING CUP: Won by Marian


Marian began a rich tradition of mares in the formative years of the Cup when she prevailed on a heavy track for James Tasker, who four years later trained another mare in Lady Clare to score.

Marian was a half-sister to the freak pacer Ribbonwood, who won the forerunner of the Cup in the New Zealand Handicap, but who had effectively won his way out of racing before the Cup was introduced.

Their dam was Dolly, who founded the family which led to other top performers such as Plunder Bar, Tactician, Twinkle Hanover, Stylish Major, Le Chant and Grades Singing and Roman Gladiator.

NZ HRWeekly 1Oct2003


At her third attempt, Marian became the first of many fine mares to win the New Zealand Cup. Her win was all the more meritorious because she led all the way on a heavy track, taking 5:16.4 for the distance.

The 1907 meeting was held on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, November 4,6 and 7. The Cup race returned to the final day, Show Day, which was cold but fine overhead. The Cup stake remained at 400 sovereigns. Of the eight races, three were in saddle and five in harness. Three races were contested over a mile-and-a-half, two over two miles, two over a mile and one a mile-and-a-quarter. The three-mile race disappeared. The Show Day turnover of £18,193 was again a record.

Trainer James Tasker started Marian's new-season campaign in August and she ran unplaced in the Midwinter Handicap and the National Cup. Tasker did not start her on the first day of the New Zealand Cup meeting, when Boldrewood, at long odds, upset the Cup candidates in the Courtenay Handicap, beating Electrician and Darwin. Despite this win Boldrewood was not well-backed and started the Cup 11th favourite, and for the second successive year ran fourth.

Rain fell on the second day and the track suffered. Lord Elmo won the Christchurch Handicap over a mile-and-three-quarters from Marian and Terra Nova, in a slow 4:22, with sensational young pacer Advance a well-beaten seventh. Three-year-old Advance was the third favourite, and the most interesting competitor in the New Zealand Cup. He remains the only horse this young to contest the country's premier event. Advance was only two years and 10 months old when he won the National Cup the previous August, against top-class horses, qualifying for his start in the New Zealand Cup. He was a black colt by Prince Imperial from Rose, owned and trained by James McDonnell, of Ashburton.

Unfortunately, Advance went amiss the following season and was retired to the McDonnell stud, where the best of the progeny he produced was Vice-Admiral, who placed third in the 1921 New Zealand Cup.

Marian, ninth favourite in the 13-horse field, led from barrier rise, and at the end of the first lap was just ahead of The Needle, Cocoanut and Verax. There was little change until a mile had been completed, when Advance and Lord Elmo became prominent in the second group. Entering the last lap Marian led from Advance, who had made a big run, with the others, led by Verax, Sal Tasker and Boldrewood, a long way back. Marian pulled away and won by 12 lengths from Advance, with six lengths to Verax, Boldrewood and the backmarker, Sal Tasker, who had to concede an enormous start of 11 seconds to the first horse away, Prince Warbeck.

Marian was trained and driven by James Tasker, who had his stable at Spreydon. She was an eight-year-old chestnut mare by King George from Dolly, by Young Irvington from a thoroughbred mare. Dolly was also the dam of Ribbonwood. Tasker produced a second New Zealand Cup winner, Lady Clare, also a mare, who won in 1911.

Auckland trotter Albertorious was the race favourite, but was slow away, broke during the running and ruined his chance. He reappeared in the next race on the programme, in saddle, and won. Second favourite Durbar also broke during the race and finished well back.

Another innovation greeted patrons in 1907. A new totalisator house, described as being built on "up to date lines", had been constructed. For the first time, above the totals shown in front of the totalisator, was a clock, one hand of which was stationary and pointed to the time the totalisator closed, while the other gave the time of the day. When the latter hand reached the stationary hand a bell rang and the betting closed. Previously, races were started before the totalisator closed. Lord Elmo was the top stake-earner with a then record of £630.

Bernie Wood writing in The Cup


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