The ghost of numerous champion trotters of past eras and their connections must have watched in satisfaction on Saturday night (19 February 1977) as the brilliant Nigel Craig scooted over a mile in 1:58.8 shattering his own outright mile record of 2:00.3 and embarrassing the previous time trial record of 2:02.4 held by Control.
Driven by part-owner Bevan Heron and assisted by a galloping pacemaker in Glenroy Lass driven by John Noble, Nigel Craig went his first quarter in a brilliant 29.9 and reached the half in 58.4. The large crowd sensed the long-awaited two-minute mark for a trotter in NZ was on as Heron steered his horse through the third-quarter pole in 1:27.5. Urged on over the final stages, Nigel Craig showed all his great staying ability to reach the post in a time which was probably faster than most expected.
The winner of nine races this season alone and nearly $30,000, Nigel Graig has all the credentials to be a fitting holder of our first home two-minute trotting mark (Ordeal broke two-minutes in America some years ago) and the time he set is going to make things difficult for the number of horses getting ready for similar time trials in various parts of NZ and Australia.
Turned out in tremendous condition by his trainer Lance Heron, Nigel Craig won $2,100 for his effort on Saturday as a result of various sponsorships. From the Addington clubs the horse owners received $500 for appearing, $100 for breaking two-minutes and $100 for each tenth of a second under two-minutes. The Canterbury Owners and Breeders gave $500 for the two-minute mark being beaten.
Although not the only trotter in the country capable of going two-minutes, Nigel Craig deserved the honour as the first to go under that mark, for he has held the race record for more than 12 months, lowering it twice in that period. He is not a horse who would win show ring ribbons for looks, but there is little doubt now that he is a great trotter, perhaps one of the five best the country has ever sent. He has had a busy season but you wouldn't know it by his latest run, and his continuing good form is a credit to his handlers.
Credit: David McCarthy writing in NZ Trotguide 23Feb77
One of the more remarkable successes at stud in this country over the last 30 years was undoubtedly Springfield Globe, an Australian bred and owned track champion of the war years.
Though by the great Globe Derby, Springfield Globe had plenty of NZ blood in his veins being from the Logan Pointer mare Ayr, who traced to a thoroughbred taproot. Ayr was bred by Durbar Lodge and sold cheaply to Australia (less than $100) where she was a great breeding success. Springfield Globe was her best known son and won 15 races including the 1939 Inter-Dominions after his full-brother Our Globe had been sensationally disqualified for allegedly not trying in the third series of heats, after winning easily in the first two.
Early in the war years, Springfield Globe was leased to the Springston trainer Roy Berry. He won six races in NZ from a limited campaign, including the Autumn Free For All and the NZ Pacing Championship, the latter including Haughty and Gold Bar in the field. He was rated two minute material by his NZ handlers but acquired something of a reputation as a non-stayer, probably as a result of his abortative chase after Gold Bar in the 1943 NZ Cup. He was later to sire our first two-minute racehorse, but his stud career showed that his stock could match most in the staying field.
Springfield Globe had a rather remarkable stud career. He stood only six seasons in this country and was leading Colonial sire six times. He produced over 100 winners here and nearer 300 altogether. His best son was Tactician, the winner of 20 races and our first local two-minute racehorse, recording 1:59.8. Tactician was also rated by some experts as a non-stayer, but circumstances rather than an weakness, may have contributed to this belief. Tactician, of course, won an Inter-Dominion in 1955, in Auckland.
Thelma Globe was another outstanding racehorse, winning 17 races including an Auckland Cup. She took a national mark of 2:32.6 over 1¼ miles. Globe Direct, from one of the sire's earlier crops, was a fine racehorse too, winning 14 races and taking a 3:09.4 mark over 1½ miles on the grass. Springfield Globe sired two NZ Cup winners in Adorian (12 wins) and Mobile Globe, who defeated Tactician in 1952. His daughters produced two more Cup winners in Invicta and Cairnbrae.
Croughton, a fine juvenile racehorse before being claimed by unsoundness, classic winning mare Perpetua, Springbok, Victory Globe (Auckland Cup), Mighty Song, Lady Rowan, Super Globe, Fortuna, Gay Knight, Gay Heritage and Lady Joss (Australasian record holder) were some of Springfield Globe's stock to reach the top but by no means all. Au Revoir won 11 races and Ohio one fewer. Autumn Sky was successful on the track and was also a fine broodmare as was Safeguard. Prince Regent won a number of races as did Alouette, Chandelier, Agricola and First Globe.
The Globe Derby line has produced some disappointing broodmare sires, but Springfield Globe, probably as a result of the Logan Pointer blood, was not one. In NZ alone his daughters produced one hundred and eight winners. One of the best was Scottish Command who won 16 races and was rated by his connections as unlucky not to win the NZ Cup in 1959 when he was brought down on the turn. He of course has been a successful sire as well. Lochgair, Invicta, Dignus, Queen Ngaio and Cairnbrae were other top horses produced in this country by Springfield Globe mares, and there were many more in Australia including Thelma Globe's son Blazing Globe.
Dessonaire produced six winners in Australia. Modern Globe, winner herself of five, produced five winners including Student. Spring Lily was also the dam of five winners as was Mercias. All the stock of another Springfield Globe mare, Primeavel, went to the USA and six of them won races. Phyllis Globe produced Bob Again who won eight and Perpetua was the dam of top Australian pacer Dale Spring. Fairfield was the dam of seven winners and Heather Globe was the dam of four. The fertility of Springfield Globe mares was marked, another top matron being Silver Circle who was the dam of six winners. Fortuna was also successful at the stud.
Springfield Globe's sons did well in this country. Springbok was the sire of the top class pacer Oreti and a champion trotter in Durban Chief, both of whom distinguished themselves in the USA. Croughton, in his first season, sired a top mare in Beau Marie. Super Globe also did well as did Globe Direct. Henry of Navarre, from limited opportunities sired some good trotters, the best being Control who held the mile record for some years. Bastille, who died after a short stud term, was another Springfield Globe stallion to attract attention and Ayrland's Pride also sired a few winners. A number of his sons were exported to Australia. Harlequin Parade was sent across the Tasman after a very successful track career here and he was from the Springfield Globe mare Liliacae.
Two other sires by Springfield Globe have done well in this country. Prince Regent, a talented but unsound racehorse sired a number of winners and his daughter Princess Grace is the dam of Vanadium among others. Prince Charming, also a good racehorse, gained belated fame through the success of his sons Royal Ascot and Marawaru.
In Australia, Springfield Globe's sons have been most successful. Aachen, an outstanding racehorse who won his first 20 races in a row, has been a consistently outstanding sire across the Tasman and a number of his sons stand at stud there. Aachen has sired over 260 winners. Mineral Spring and the ill fated Sheffield Globe have done well there also and another son, Chief Spring has sired, among many winners, the champion Reichman.
It can be seen then, why some breeders are still anxious to have Springfield Globe blood in the veins of their mares. Whether it affects their staying ability is debatable, but there can be no doubt it is a great asset if you are trying to breed a winner.
Credit: David McCarthy writing in NZ Trotguide 18May77
Van Dieman, one of the best stayers to race in NZ, died at the Templeton property of his owner, Ces Devine, last week.
Van Dieman, who numbered the 1951 NZ Cup among his 18 victories, later became a successful sire and has been to the fore recently as a sire of broodmares. Van Dieman (U Scott-Reno) won eight races over two miles, and one of his most notable victories came in the Royal Metropolitan Cup.
The winner of more than $50,000 in stakes, Van Dieman was the top 4-year-old of his year and among the other notable races he won were the New Brighton Cup, Louisson Handicap, NZ Pacing Championship and the Ollivier Free-For-All.
At stud, Van Dieman left many good winners, among the most notable being the NZ Derby winner Bellajily, Van Rebeck (13 wins), Terryman, Van Rush, Raft, Vanadium, Van Glory, Florita, Vantage and Demure.
Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 13Dec77
Local Light, one of the best NZ-bred stallions to stand at stud for many years, died at the age of 26 on Friday.
The sire of nine 2:00 performers, Local Light left such top performers as the Auckland Cup winners Leading Light (1:59.8) and Captain Harcourt (1:58.5), the NZ Derby winner Leroy (1:59.4), Intrepid (1:57), Lightsey (1:58.8), Game Lad (1:58.6), Local Product (1:59.7), the NZ Oaks winner Local Lie, Valencia, Golden Oriole, Partisan, Castle Derg, Goodlight, Costa Light (1:59), Local Rose, Dieppe and the champion Blue, the world yearling record holder (2:09.2) and undefeated at two.
Local Light had been in perfect health up until the time of his death from a cerebral haemorrhage. He died on the property of his owners, Geoff and Jackie Hill, of Ellesmere, and was buried there.
Local Light was represented by only one yearling at last week's National Standardbred Sale in Christchurch, but it was a measure of his standing as a stallion that the filly, Mia Mocca, a full-sister to Golden Oriole, was passed in at $14,000. Had she been sold, it would have been a record price for a filly at the sales.
Local Light, who won nine races and took a mark of 2:00.2, was by Light Brigade from Local Gold, herself the winner of nine races and the dam of eight individual winners, including Arania (1:57) and Golcourt. Local Gold was by Gold Bar out of Lottie Location, by Jack Potts from Location, by Rey De Oro from Locality.
Credit: Tony Williams writing in NZ Trotguide 16Feb77
The photo shows Noodlum and Freeman Holmes on Show Day 1974...the day they came off 30m to win the Riccarton Stakes over a top field of 3-year-olds by 14 lengths in 3:21, a national record by almost three seconds.
The brilliant Noodlum, undoubtedly one of the greatest pacers ever produced in NZ and the wonder colt of his era, has been retired to the stud and will this Spring stand his first season alongside the already successful Adios import Jersey Hanover at part-owner Freeman Holmes' Ellesmere nursery, The Manor.
The decision to terminate the dashing chestnut's racing career was made a fortnight ago by Freeman and champ's other part-owner Mrs Ann Wilson of Christchurch. "There was a risk of him breaking a sesamoid bone in his off hind leg as the ligament running along the cannon bone had moved off the bone," said Freeman who trained the horse and drove him in all bar seven of his races.
The trouble actually stemmed from the eve of the NZ Derby of November 1974 when the precocious colt sprung a curb. A look at his record sheet since then would give the impression that he made a complete recovery but as Freeman takes up the story again, "the peculiar thing is that in his endeavour to save the strained ligaments he placed great pressure elsewhere and that is the reason for his recent injury." All Noodlum's troubles originate from the fact that the great drive possessed in his beautiful pacing action caused strain on his stifles and when soreness occurred in these ligaments it placed greater pressure on the lower areas of his hind legs eventually resulting in injuries.
Noodlum's 2-year-old campaign was nothing short of sensational. He was constantly in the headlines from his first public appearance, when he scurried over 1200 metres in 1:36.4 (last 800 in 1:04.4) on a 'cutting out' grass track to down a field of his age group by more than 150 metres at a Waimate trial meeting late in August 1973 until he was eased up for his first Winter spell, with the greatest juvenile pacing campaign ever witnessed in this part of the world, behind him.
He won his debut, taking the Morrinsville Juvenile Stakes at Cambridge, was unbeaten at his next three attempts, the Ellerslie League Pace at Alexandra Park, NZ Springtime Stakes at Addington and NZ Golden Slipper Stakes at Waimate (deadheating with Astro Blue) before tasting his first defeat, running second to Don Lopez in the New Year Stakes at Addington. At his next appearance he bounced back with a brilliant finishing burst to down Commissioner in the Town Hall Stakes at Addington's Commonwealth Games Meeting but then at his following attempt disaster struck.
Coasting home well clear of the field in the Forbury Juvenile Stakes at Dunedin late in January 1974 Noodlum fell victim to the even human tendency of 'star gazing' and 'having a wee dream' when things are going to easily. He suddenly spotted a head number lying on the track about thirty metres from the line, woke up in a panic (as one does whe rudely disturbed during a pleasant day dream) and tried to jump the obstacle. In an instant Noodlum, driver Holmes and a tangled mass of sulky and gear were on the deck - Noodlum receiving abrasions losing two teeth and requiring a fortnight off work to recover from the nasty incident.
Reappearing in the Second Graduation Stakes at Addington in April, Noodlum, from a ten metre backmark, received a shocking run before finishing fourth to Sly Kiwi, Esteban and Golden Nurse - but that was the last time he would taste defeat for fifteen starts, a NZ record winning sequence not approached before or since. He took the NZ Welcome Stakes by five lengths, the Allanton Stakes at Forbury Park by six lengths, the Gladville Stakes at Addington (from a 20 metre backmark) by ¾ of a length, the Oamaru Juvenile Stakes by four lengths, the Canterbury Park Juvenile Stakes (again from 20 metres) by one and a half lengths, the NZ Sapling Stakes at Ashburton by four and a half lengths and the NZ Juvenile Championship at Auckland by eight lengths.
Noodlum's complete juvenile record sheet reads 15 starts, 12 wins, one second and one fourth and $23,162.50. He set a stakes winning record for one of his age, bettering the previous best (credited to Young Quinn) by $9,947.50, equalled the record performance of Robalan by winning 12 races in a single season (the previous best was 11 credited to Nyallo Scott back in the mid-forties) and set race record mile rates in seven classics or semi-classics - the NZ Juvenile Championship, the NZ Welcome Stakes, NZ Golden Slipper Stakes, NZ Springtime Stakes, Canterbury Park Juvenile Stakes, Morrinsville Juvenile Stakes and Oamaru Juvenile Stakes. He still holds three National 2-year-old marks, 2000 metres standing starts at 2:35.4 (set in the Canterbury Park Juvenile Stakes), 2200 metres standing start at 2:54.4 (Allanton Stakes, Forbury Park) and 2200 metres mobile at 2:49.8 (NZ Juvenile Championship, Alexandra Park). In his final seven victorious juvenile appearances Noodlum was handled by the great Maurice Holmes (uncle of Freeman) then in his last season of race driving. Horse and driver certainly formed a champion team.
Noodlum commenced his 3-year-old campaign with a devasting patch of form which saw him unbeaten over an eight race, four month period, thus extending his winning sequence to the record 15. He opened by taking the Waitaki Hanover Stakes at Kurow (from a 20 metre backmark) by three and a half lengths then preceding to blast similar Semi-Classic fields in the Second Canterbury Stakes at Addington (again of 20 metres) by four lengths, the Fourth Canterbury Stakes (20 metres again) by three lengths, the New Brighton Stakes (this time from 30 metres) by two and a half lengths, the Concord Handicap at Forbury (off 20 metres) by six lengths, the Warrington Handicap at Forbury (again 20 metres) by five and a half lengths and the Second Riccarton Stakes at Addington on Show Day. In the latter event Noodlum came from a 30 metre handicap in the 2600 metre contest, reached the lead 1000 metre out then said goodbye to his field with a 58.6 last half to score by 14 lengths, still a National 3YO mark and then an all-age record. In his earlier New Brighton Stakes victory Noodlum has similarly assaulted the record book, cutting the 2000 metre standing start contest out in 2:32.4, a National mark for a 3-year-old and jointly shared with Hi Foyle as an all-aged record.
Although not at his best, being troubled by his earlier mentioned curb, Noodlum had little trouble in downing a vintage field in the 1974 NZ Derby at his next appearance, being hard held all the way in front but still covering his last 800 metres in 57.8 to make it 15 on end.
After a short let-up Noodlum resumed in the North Canterbury Stakes at Rangiora and it was to become the first occasion the champion colt was to cross the line unplaced (his only other failure to earn a stake at that stage being when he fell at Forbury). Badly checked early from his 20 metre backmark Noodlum found himself some 250 metres from the early leader, yet still managed to finish fifth behind the flying Commissioner. Seconds to Commissioner in the NZ Champion Stakes at Ashburton and Parlez Vous in the E F Mercer Mile at Addington (being parked out in the suicide seat throughout both times) followed then, still suffering from the effects of his affected hock, Noodlum was taken out of fast work and put onto a programme of long, slow jogging for a period.
Four months later he was back again and after a seven length victoty in the Russley Stakes ay Addington and a grand second (from 30 behind) to Ganya in the Queen's Birthday Stakes at Ashburton Noodlum ventured across the Tasman for the first and only time, two out of two at Albion Park, Brisbane. He romped away by 35 metres in his qualifying heat of the 1975 Queensland Derby then a week later displayed to the Australians just what a champion he was by overcoming an early lapse from the mobile which cost him a good 50 metres and saw him settle last in the field of budding top-liners including Wilbur Post, Little William, Chief Eagle and the ill-fated Francis Joseph. From there he was forced to race "round the world" on the tight Albion Park curcuit to reach the lead early in the run home and score by a long neck, the 2510 metre journey being snapped out in 3:15.8.
Noodlum returned home to The Manor for a short winter break, his sophomore season record standing at 15 starts for eleven wins, three seconds and a fifth worth $32,100. He had equalled the National all-age 2000 metre standing start mark of 2:32.4 and created a 2600 metre 3-year-old record of 3:21 - both these marks still standing at the time of writing. But just as startling performances were to come the following season as a 4-year-old.
Noodlum commenced his third season on the track with two successive seconds to Lunar Chance at the 1975 National Meeting, going down by a head in the Louisson Handicap and a neck in the National Handicap. A fortnight later he was back in the birdcage first as a result of one of the most brilliant finishing bursts seen in many a long day. From 10 metres behind in New Brighton's A E Laing Handicap Noodlum found himself back near the tail of the field for most of the journey and with just 400 metres to go was still last equal. Asked the question by driver Holmes the gifted sidewheeler swept up eight wide round the home turn and flew down the outside of the track, grabbing a neck victory over Kawarau Gold just short of the line, in a time of 3:23.1. His last quarter was covered in an electrified 27 seconds.
At his next attempt he failed to run in the money after being left in the suicide seat for most of the contest, and this became only the third time of his career Noodlum had failed to earn a cheque. Noodlum's next appearance, from a 15 metre handicap in the Ashburton Flying Stakes, provided a near carbon copy of his magnificent Laing Handicap victory of two starts previous. Buried back near the rear on the inner of the high-class fourteen horse field Noodlum's chances seemed completely extinguished when the leaders dawdled over the majority of the 2400 metre contest, effectively converting it into an 800 metre dash. Still not sighted and far from the lead at the straight most of the champion's admirers had given up hope for their idol when closer to the outside fence than the running rail, the brilliant chestnut appeared, literally swallowing up his rivals to catch Kawarau Gold right on the line and win by a head, with Why Bill and Speedy Guest right up next. His time for the full journey was 3:17.3 but his last half on the grass surface, far from conducive to fast times, was an amazing 57 seconds. Other stars to finish behind him were Lunar Chance and Vanadium.
A sixth after being all but brought down in a scrimmage on the home turn in the Hannon Memorial (won by Kawarau Gold) at Oamaru and a dashing 2:00.9 victory after a wide early run in the Canterbury Park 4-year-old Mile followed. Then just prior to the 1975 NZ Cup Noodlum became troubled by stifle soreness and was forced to miss the Carnival.
An internal blister was successfully applied to the stifle and Noodlum flew north for the Auckland Cup Meeting where he scored a magificent last-to-first victory over Ripper's Delight, Forto Prontezza, Captain Harcourt, Lunar Chance and company in the National Flying Pace (clocking 2:03.8), ran a sound fifth in the Pezaro Memorial then chased Captain Harcourt and Speedy Guest home in the 1975 Auckland Cup after being parked out for a good bit of the journey.
Next it was down to Wellington's Hutt Park, and the Pacific Handicap was to be the last event to fall to the brilliant chestnut, his winning margin (from a ten metre handicap) over Palestine being a long neck. Noodlum contested his last race in the 1976 Wellington Cup, finishing a good third behind Palestine and Speedy Guest, clocking 3:05 for the 2400 metres.
Although due to his injuries it became increasingly difficult for Noodlum to be produced at his best as a 4-year-old, the magnificent entire still managed five wins, two seconds, two thirds and $21,150 from his twelve appearances. His full career record stands at 42 starts, 28 wins, 6 seconds, 2 thirds and one fourth for $76,412.50 in stakes. He was only unplaced on five occasions, and of those five fell once, was all but brought down on the home turn once and was checked loosing 250 metres at the start once. An incredible record by any standards.
Bred by part-owner Mrs Ann Wilson, Noodlum standing 15.2 hands and boasting a heartscore of 140, is by Jim Dalgety's great, late import and once NZ premier sire Bachelor Hanover, sire of other standouts in Arapaho (p5, 1:58.2), Dwayne (p9, 1:59.8), Jondor Hanover (p6, 2:00), Bachelor Star, Bachelor Tom, Boy Friend, Double Cash, Violetta, Walk Alone, First Batch, Royal Nibble and a host of other good winners. Although his first NZ crop are currently only 10-year-olds Bachelor Hanover is already a two-minute broodmare-sire through the deeds of last year's top 3-year-old pacer Bolton Byrd (p3, 1:59.9) while another of his daughters produced Harvey Wilson, undisputed leader of last years sophomore trotters brigade.
Dam of Noodlum is the former high-class racemare Deft who left earlier winners in Eligo and Canny while her foal immediately following Noodlum was champion filly and leading 2-year-old of her last season Olga Korbut. $15,020 being her first season earnings. The only mare to be acclaimed NZ broodmare of the year more than once (she was so honoured in 1974 and 1975) Deft won ten races including two invitations (the Pope and McDonald Handicaps, both at Hutt Park) for Mrs Wilson from the Wyndham stables of Derek Dynes. Like her brilliant son Deft was also a chestnut, being by the dual two-minute siring Roydon Lodge-import Captain Adios from a real broodmare gem and also high-class racemare Tactics who scored eleven wins including the 1953 New Brighton Cup for Mrs Wilson's husband Andy.
At the stud Tactics produced nine winners, Tactile (p7, 1:59.6 - $189,415 - a champion classic colt, the only horse ever to win five derbies, a highly-successful sire in a short stay in North America and now based at Derek Dynes' Wyndham property where he receives heavy patronage), Adroit (a classic victor and now successful Australian-based sire), Tactus (also a successful sire across the Tasman), Master Proof, Tactena, Tacmae, Greek March and Deft herself while she now ranks as either the grandam or ancestress of such good performers as (besides Deft's brood) Ryal Anne, Tactful, Astute Hanover, Tactless, Yankee Score, Young Charlene and Tact Del.
By another of Roydon Lodge's great imports Light Brigade, Tactics is from yet another class racemare in the nine times successful Nell Grattan, dam also of Mighty Song (eight wins) and grandam of yet another star performer in Coral Donna (p6, 2:00). A daughter of Grattan Loyal, Nell Grattan boasted as her dam the prolific producer First Water whose brood included twelve winners, amongst their numbers being such standouts as Rocks Ahead (16 wins), First Lord (ten wins - now a 2:00 sire) and 1940 Auckland Cup victor Ned Worthy. By Harold Rothschild, First Water was from the Prince Imperial mare Red Diamond, foaled in 1907 and founder of this now nearly two hundred individual winner producing family.
No story on Noodlum would be complete without a tribute to Freeman Holmes who always paraded the horse in the magnificent order, truly befitting a champion. Well worthy of mention too is a big thank you on behalf of the NZ standardbred breeding industry, present and future, to Freeman and Mrs Wilson for resisting many overseas offers, some of the magnitude of $¼ million for their champion and standing by their word in making him available to the nation's broodmare owners now his racing days are over. The high regard Noodlum was held in by the breeding industry can be gauged by the fact that within 48 hours of his retirement being announced he was fully booked for the current season, while there are now only a few vacancies left for his 1977-78 season.
But perhaps the greatest tribute paid to Noodlum came from NZ's maestro of the reins Maurice Holmes who in his half century career drove more classic victors than some harness followers have picked winners. Said Maurice "He's the greatest juvenile pacer I've ever sat behind." Perhaps with that quotation we can remember Noodlum, the crowd drawing, newsmaking racehorse and look forward to Noodlum, the horse with all the credentials to be a supersire of the future.
Extract from HRWeekly 15 Nov 89
Noodlum, champion New Zealand sire in 1985-86 and 1986-87, collapsed and died after serving a mare on Sunday.
Aged 18, Noodlum was in good health, and had served 20 mares this season.
Noodlum was a son of Bachelor Hanover and the Captain Adios mare, Deft. A chestnut foal of 1971, Noodlum was a grand racehorse, winning 15 consecutive races, 12 of them as a 2-year-old. His most notable wins were the Ashburton Flying Stakes, NZ and Queensland Derbys, NZ Sapling Stakes, NZ Welcome Stakes and the Benson and Hedges Flying Mile.
On retiring, Noodlum stood at The Manor, the Springston stud of his trainer, Freeman Holmes. He sired a marvellous racehorse in Master Mood, who won the 1986 NZ Cup, the Auckland Cup and the Miracle Mile in the same season, and Race Ruler, who was exceptional at three and won both the New Zealand and Great Northern Derbys.
Another gem sired by Noodlum is Tyron Scottie, who is a superb trotter with good prospects of winning the TV3 Dominion Handicap at Addington on Saturday night.
The early Noodlum mares are now producing, and among their progeny are Mark Hanover, Auckland winner Predator, Zippy Jiffy, Lord Stiven, Shuttle Prime Rate and Fraggle Rock.
Credit: Peter Larkin writing in NZ Trotguide 2Sep76
LORD MODULE - Bargain Buy
STORMY MORN - Bargain Buy
Highland Fling was Leo Berkett's finest hour; the U Scott flyer placed him under the world spotlight.
Many of us still regard Highland Fling as the mightiest pacer ever to blaze the light-harness tracks of the Dominion. And he was only six years old when, with 'the world' virtually at his feet, he broke a sesamoid bone in a foot and had to be retired to the stud. Small consolation that his racing career terminated in a blaze of glory, because here was the horse of the century, here was the horse who might have proved the best in the world. Highland Fling proved himself a champion 2-year-old - his mile race record of 2.10 still stands - and a top 3-year-old.
The following season Highland Fling entered on his busiest period, but in his first nine starts, when was returned only once a winner, he began to earn the reputation of being both brilliant and erratic. He was not only refusing to move away from the barrier in reasonably good style, but he was also showing a disinclination to face up to the tasks asked of him in the running. Various types of harness were tried on him without bringing any marked improvement in his race-day manners. Highland Fling was regarded by many as a 'problem child' - a pacer capable of measuring strides with the best, but one with definite ideas of his own.
It was at this critical stage of his career that Highland Fling was taken over by L F Berkett, and this marked the beginning of a new era in his life. Highland Fling was about to arrive. In his first race under the Templeton trainer he ran second behind Gold Peg in the New Brighton Handicap, run at Addington, and the same mare, a noted mud lark, again defeated him later on the same day over a mile and a quarter. Highland Fling still retained a good measure of his unreliableness, but his brilliancy and stamina were strikingly revealed in his third start under Berkett, when he won the Craven Handicap, a 4.32 class from 36 behind. Highland Fling broke early and was all of 100 yards behind the leaders when he settled down. Most people counted him out when he was still in a seemingly hopeless position at the mile. To cut a long story short, Highland Fling was separately timed to run the last mile and a half in 3.07 and he won with astounding ease. He proved that he was a champion here, and to emphasise that he was still far from infallible, he failed badly later on the same day in an event run over one mile and a quarter. Highland Fling then commenced his rapid rise to the best classes, his last 11 starts as a 4-year-old resulting in six wins and one minor placing, and he was now assessed in NZ Cup company.
As a 5-year-old Highland Fling went from success to success, registering amazingly brilliant performances over all distances, and often still displaying a tendency to leave the barrier indifferently. His wins at this period included the Winter Handicap and Lightning Free-for-all, run at Addington in August; the NZ Cup; the Wellington Cup; the A I Rattray Handicap and the Otago Pacing Free-for-all. His earnings in that season amounted to £15,835 - a record total for a horse of any gait in NZ.
Highland Fling made history in 1948 by winning his second NZ Cup in the then world's race record time of 4.10 3/5 for the two miles, and this, combined with his subsequent and successful attempts against time, gained him world-wide recognition. It was then claimed of him that he was the best horse in the world, and that description could not in any measure be regarded as an exaggeration. Highland Fling in action was superb.
Highland Fling, winner of the last race he contested, retired with an unequalled record. He not only held the world's two-mile record, but his 2.10 race record as a 2-year-old still stands; he bettered 2.00 on three occasions, his best being 1.57 4/5 (since bettered by Caduceus 1.57 3/5); and he held the world's grass track record of 2.00 for one mile. His total stake-winnings, at the time of his retirement, exceeded those of any horse raced solely in NZ.
A week after his second NZ Cup victory Highland Fling went the mile against time in 1.59 2/5, equalling Lawn Derby's long-standing mile record established in November 1938, also at Addington. The following Friday Highland Fling again went against the record and his sensational figures of 1.57 4/5 were a further triumph for the unconventional training and driving methods of L F Berkett. The usual procedure in trials against time is a strong warm-up and a galloping pacemaker. Berkett dispensed with both and shattered the previous record, by 1 3/5 secs. The spectacle of Highland Fling's lone role was a thrilling one - propably much more so than it would have been with a pace-maker, and the public appeal of the trial was emphasised by packed stands and enclosures although the starting time for the first race was still half an hour away.
Berkett rated Highland Fling to perfection: the first quarter in 29 secs, half-mile in 58 2/5 secs, six furlongs in 1.28 3/5, and full journey in 1.57 4/5. The last half-mile showed 59 2/5 secs and the last quarter 29 1/5 secs. A warm ovation awaited Highland Fling and Berkett when they returned to the birdcage, and Berkett's deep satisfaction with the greatest mile paced outside of America was betrayed by his permitting himself one of his isolated smiles. Six hours after breaking the mile record, Highland Fling was harnessed up for the NZ Premier Sprint Championship, which he won by a safe margin after being left flat-footed at the start. Berkett's coolness and unconcern at this initial setback was not lost upon the crowd, and also made a profound impression upon many of the sports oldest adherents.
In the NZ Pacing Free-For-All the following day, the extent to which Single Direct and Integrity were stopping at the close was revealed by the fact they took 1.09 2/5 to run the last half-mile and 36 secs for the last quarter. This is no distraction from the performance of either; Integrity's effort to slip the field - he was 40 yards clear of anything else with half a mile covered - and Single Direct's lion-hearted run to overhaul him, set Highland Fling the impossible. Losing 60 yards at the start, Highland Fling had drifted nearly half a furlong behind the leaders with a mile and a quarter to go. He came his last mile in 2.07 2/5 on the soft track and only a veritable pacing machine could have made up 100 yards of this leeway from that point and finish third.
Highland Fling a few weeks later went 1.58 against time on the five furlong Forbury Park track, which compares most favourably with anything done on the best American half-mile tracks.
The editor of the NZ Trotting Calendar was surprised one afternoon in March 1949, to receive advice from tolls that Mr Bernard Kearney, vice-president of the Western Harness Racing Association, Los Angeles, California, wished to talk to him about Highland Fling. The editor lost no time in inviting Mr Kemble and Berkett to the Calendar office. They were all 'on their toes' awaiting the call, but it did not come through - Mr Kearney later cabled as follows: "We have races of $65,000 for which Highland Fling is eligible, October 8 through November 26 (1949), Hollywood Park. If owner interested cable us immediately, and I will telephone details - Bernard Kearney, Western Harness Racing Association."
Highland Fling's connections, obviously flattered by the American cablegram, said they had already discussed the idea of taking Highland Fling to the States to race, but that October and November would not suit their plans. One of their main ambitions was to win a third NZ Cup with their champion. Mr Kemble authorised the editor of the Trotting Calendar to reply to Mr Kearny as follows: "Dates mentioned do not suit. Definitely interested later."
Hot on the heels of the cablegram came this letter from Mr Kearney to the editor of the Calendar: Dear Sir, We have been reading, with great interest, stories carried in the American Harness Magazine, 'Horseman and Fair World' about the phenomenal feats of that world champion pacer, Highland Fling. To say the least it has everyone hereabouts really thrilled and excited. First, we wish to offer out heartiest congratulations to the owner, as well as the trainer and driver of this great animal. We are sorry none of the stories we have read tell the owner's name. Thus we cabled you hoping you would relay our message to the proper party. The Western Harness Racing Association, with headquarters in Los Angeles, California, offers this year one of the greatest stake programmes for just such a horse, the $50,000 Golden West Pace, which attracts the best horses from all over the United States. This event will be raced at Hollywood Park, Inglewood, California, one of the finest and most beautiful racecourses in America, on Saturday, November 12, at a distance of one mile and a quarter. Aside from this race there are others in our condition book in which Highland Fling could qualify to win a total of $65,000 in purses during a 35-day meet, which starts October 8 and continues through November 26, 1949. These races are outlined in detail in the condition book enclosed in this letter. We are exceptionally interested in the possibilities of the owner shipping Highland Fling to the United States for this race meeting. If interested there is plenty of time to ship the horse by water, or perhaps the owner would be interested in flying the horse here. In either case we are prepared to offer and international publicity campaign and build Highland Fling into the greatest public favourite that has ever come from the country 'Down Under.' This campaign would include newspaper reports, photographs, newsreel motion pictures, magazine articles and other forms of media publicity. This publicity, if the owner is interested, would make it possible to sell the horse in this country at a nice profit. The latter possibility is brought out only should the owner wish to sell after the campaign in America. If you would contact the owner and deliver this message we would be very appreciative. Thanking you in advance for your interest in this matter, we wish to remain, Sincerely yours, Bernard Kearney."
Early in 1949 another American visitor to NZ, Mr C Richarson wrote to the American weekly magazine 'Horseman and Fair World," as follows:
"Attracted by the brilliant record of Highland Fling, the idol of NZ, I resolved to see this sensational hoppled pacing son of U Scott and Queen Ayesha. On arrival in Auckland, I found that although the residence of his owner A T Kemble is there, the object of my quest was in Christchurch, the centre of harness racing in the South Island. When I reached Christchurch I got in touch with C S Thomas, president of the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club there. I had heard that Highland Fling had an injured leg, and was told that his trainer L F Berkett, was away, but Mr Thomas graciously took me to Berkett's place. Mr Kemble's son whom we found there, took us across the road to a pasture, in which was the horse I was most anxious to see.
Taking a halter lying by the gate he spoke to Highland Fling, who readily submitted to our inspection. He is a thoroughly relaxed horse. This 6-year-old wonder horse is about 16 hands high, rather on the lanky side, and is a dark bay with three white feet and a white spot on his forehead. He is a clean-cut individual and looked to be in splendid condition except for his lameness, the exact cause of which the younger Mr Kemble said he did not know.
Highland Fling's record is most interesting. Bred by Mrs K Bare, of Christchurch, his sire, as has been stated is the now 17-year-old U Scott, by Scotland. Highland Fling's dam, owned by Mrs K Bare, is Queen Ayesha, a bay pacing mare by Frank Worthy; dam Royal Empress by Logan Pointer. Both Frank Worthy and Logan Pointer were imported from the United States. Queen Ayesha is said to have shown early speed, but had no record, breaking down and subsequently being used as a broodmare. Mrs Bare sold Highland Fling as a yearling for a reported £100, and I imagine has regretted it ever since. As a 2-year-old he was surprisingly fast, pacing a mile in 2.10. As a 3-year-old he had an off year, not getting right until late in the season, and winning only twice. It was then that he was taken over by L F Berkett, a trainer who turned from farming to noteworthy success with harness horses.
Many stories are told of Berkett, one being that he puts his horses to the plough. He apparently never pampers a horse in the slightest, but either because of his rough and ready methods, or in spite of them, he has had remarkable results. Whether Highland Fling was used with a plough or not, his improvement was steady under Berkett's tutelage, and as a 4-year-old he won eight times and did two miles in 4.13 4/5. As a 5-year-old he won the NZ Cup and had nine wins. As a 6-year-old, besides winning the NZ Cup for the second time he made several records, including a mile in 1.57 4/5 and two miles in 4.10 3/5. He has been timed a quarter in 27 4/5 and a half in 57 4/5. The ordinary spectators are completely thrilled by his rousing finishes, and hail his victories with triumphant acclaim. Highland Fling's competitive spirit is tremendous and Berkett rarely has to put any pressure on him. His utter relaxation is shown by the fact that, while many horses won't eat right after a race, he eats like a plough horse. Highland Fling's racing career seems to be drawing to a close. He has beaten all his rivals; in fact there are only two or three that can give him any noticeable argument. The national appeal of Highland Fling is truly extraordinary. It was a distinct dissappointment to me that I did not see him race, because this darling of NZ sports lovers is, to all who have seen his amazing victories, a real superhorse."
That is what they thought of Highland Fling in the USA. They were prepared to build him into the 'greatest public favourite' ever to leave our shores, and what a worthy ambassador he must have been for us!
**Extract from an article on L F Berkett written by 'Ribbonwood' in NZ Trotting Calendar 17Apr63**
Once the idol of NZ trotting followers, Highland Fling died in relative obscurity in Australia earlier this month at the age of 33.
At the height of a brilliant racing career in this country he broke a sesamoid bone and had to be retired. He was taken to Australia and stood at stud, siring more than 180 individual winners and serving mares until last season.
Bought as a yearling for only $200, Highland Fling had 70 starts for 25 wins and 13 placings and won more than $66,000 for his Auckland owner Mr A T Kemble. He commenced racing as a 2-year-old when he won the Great Northern Trotting Stakes at Alexandra Park at his first appearance. Among the 'also-rans' was Single Direct, later to become one of Highland Fling's great racing rivals. In his final race at two he lost many lengths in the early stages and was beaten into second place by Sprayman yet still registered 2:10, a new mile record for one of his age. At three he was beaten by Local Gold in the Great Northern Derby, his only classic race of the season but he won two handicaps.
The following season Highland Fling had a busy campaign but time after time he ruined winning prospects by losing big stretches of ground when the barrier was released. It was at this stage he was taken over by Canterbury trainer L F Berkett and under the guidance of this astute Canterbury mentor he developed into a dual NZ Cup winner and world record holder. His second Trotting Cup in 1948 was run in world record time of 4:10.6 and he three times clocked under two minutes for the mile, the fastest 1:57.8.
It was the performances of Highland Fling to win so many races after inflicting additional self-imposed handicaps at the start that endeared him to the public of the time and ensured that there would be an increased attendance whenever he appeared.
The sensational efforts of the son of U Scott and Queen Ayesha did not go unnoticed in America and he was invited to race at Hollywood Park in October 1949 but this was turned down because his connections had their sights set on a third Trotting Cup.
Even though his race career was cut short by the leg injury most race followers of the era saw enough great performances by Highland Fling to ensure his name remains among the list of all time greats in NZ trotting history.
Credit: Richard Turnbull writing in NZ Trotguide 26Jun75