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YEAR: 1975BACHELOR HANOVER
Lovers of champions were saddened last week by the news of the death of Bachelor Hanover at the age of 22 years. The magnificent racehorse and sire passed away at Jim Dalgety's Lantana Stud, West Melton, where he had stood since being imported in 1965.
Bred by the famous Pennsylvanian nursery Hanover Shoe Farms, Bachelor Hanover was a rich chestnut by Nibble Hanover (T5, 1:58¾ - a champion square-gaiter of the late thirties early forties and sire of four and the dams of thirty seven in two minutes) from one of the all time greatest matrons in The Old Maid, amongst whose progeny is included Dancer Hanover (P4, 1:56.8 - sire of twenty seven and the dam of one in two minutes namely the mighty Albatross P4, 1:54.6).
By Guy Abbey, The Old Maid Maid was from Spinster, dam also of the almost legendary Roydon Lodge import Light Brigade, grandam of Harold J sire of one of North America's top free-for-allers of the present in Nickawampus Leroy, and third dam of current Castleton Farm owned boom sire Tace Time, sire of thirty three in two minutes. A daughter of Spencer and Minnetonka, Spinster belonged to the famed Thompson sisters. This family now boasts sevety seven pacers and fourteen trotters with records of two minutes or better.
A racehorse campaigning from the Billy Houghton stables Bachelor Hanover installed himself as one of the top two and three-year-old pacers of all time. At those ages he earned $123,583, the greatest amount ever won by a standardbred in juvenile and sophomore seasons up to that time. His eleven wins at two included two of North America's most prestigious classics, namely the Fox Stakes and the Reading Futurity.
At three he again scored on eleven occasions including the inaugural running of the Little Brown Trial and a Junior Free-For-All while over the four following seasons he competed in the tough free-for-all circuit, meeting and defeating such champions as Adios Harry(P4, 1:55), Diamond Hal(P4,1:57.4), Gold Worthy(P5, 1:57.2) and Belle Acton(P3, 1:58.6), when he was retired as a seven-year-old his bankroll stood at $209,021 (and stakes were then far below today's level). He stood light stud duty at the North American Symphony Acres Stud Farm and was purchased by Jim Dalgety at that establishment's dispersal sale in 1964.
On his arrival in NZ at West Melton in October 1965 he was justifiably heralded as "the greatest classic winning pacer to do stud duty outside of America" and was in fact the biggest stake winner ever to be imported to that time. For his first NZ stud season, 1965-66 Bachelor Hanover covered 84 mares, the resulting 60 foals crediting him with a 71% fertility rate. Over the next seven stud seasons he preserved his extremely high fertility rate, never dropping below 72% and on two occasions peaking at 81%, during his first eight seasons he was mated with 673 mares for 504 resulting live foals.
He steadily climbed in 1970-1, second to Johnny Globe in 1971-2 and 1972-3 before topping the table for the 1973-4 season. He left the winners of 340 races worth $614,625 in NZ while his exported stock has performed with great credit in both Australia and North America. He was also leading sire of NZ 2-year-olds on three occasions.
His two most notable offspring are undoubtedly wonder colt Noodlum and mighty stayer Arapaho(P4, 1:59) the 1972 "Horse Of The Year", winner of the NZ and Auckland Cups in 1973 and now based in Canada. Others to have aided Bachelor Hanover's enormous contribution to this country's standardbred breeding industry have been Bachelor Star(the 1971 NZ Derby victor), Bachelor Tom(one of the nation's top trotters of the present era), First Batch(winner of the 1969 Great Northern Derby), Dwayne, Violetta, Walk Alone, Boy Friend, Double Cash and in Australia Royal Nibble. His daughters too are now beginning to feature as the dams of winners, this term's smart juveniles Bolton Byrd, Kiatina and in Australia the rich Victoria Breeders' Plate victor Valdis being three potential stars from 'Bachelor' mares.
Last November Bachelor Hanover endeared himself to many when he 'officiated' as guest of honour at a press conference called by the NZ Standardbred Breeders' Association at the Russley Hotel (Christchurch) to announce the commencement of 'standardbred 75' the promotion of last autumn's sales. Behaving with manners and dignity rarely displayed by humans, 'Bachelor' in his specially improvised stall in a corner of the conference room, seemed somehow to sense that he was the most important being present as he quietly dined from his feeder after being presented with a beautifully inscribed dress rug.
Bachelor Hanover has been buried near the main entrance of Lantana Stud and a headstone mounted in a scree garden is to be set above the plot. His male line is being carried on by Bashful Hanover who has already sired winners in Australia, Fernside Bachelor who stands at Keith Powell's Westport establishment and Adios Bachelor who is based at Alister Kerslake's Highbank property, while doubtlessly both Noodlum and Bachelor Star will be heavily patronised if and when they are made available to the nation's breeders.
The NZ standardbred breeding industry is deeply indebted to Jim Dalgety for importing and making available such a wonderful stallion as Bachelor Hanover, for to prosper harness racing needs crowd drawing news making champions and what more could 'Bachelor' do but give us Noodlum and Arapaho.
Credit: Peter Larkin writing in NZ Trotguide 24July75
Among the host of mares cropping the lush grass out at Lantana Lodge there's one Jim Dalgety can hardly wait to see foal. She is Jovial Jeanie, a spectacular mare when going through the grades a few seasons ago, and now a month overdue.
Jim Dalgety, though, shows no concern. "That's not unusual for a maiden mare." She's due to foal to Colonel Kenton, who Dalgety stands at his West Melton stad at a considerably more modest fee than the one he had to pay to get this fine mare. And the expenses didn't stop with the $12,500 fee for champion American stallion Most Happy Fella. Jovial Jeanie is out of Bellajily, a Van Dieman mare who won the NZ Derby before being sent to America to race.
Dalgety noticed her name in a race card while on a trip to the States about ten years ago. Not for her, then, the town hall company of her Derby and Oaks contemporaries. Instead, her American performances impaired by a throat infection, she was restricted to lowly claimers. "I got an American friend to claim her for me; she was mine for $2600," Dalgety explained last week. No more racing for her. Dalgety sent her to Blue Chip Farms to be mated with Gene Abbe. "You had to pay the fee for a live foal. Ours caught a virus and died after three weeks. Ten or twelve thousand down the drain for a start." Bellajily stayed at Blue Chip and produced Jovial Jeanie before coming home. "We had to pay $12 a day for more than two years, plus expenses of $100 a month, to keep her at the farm in those days. Mind you, it's a lot more now with Most Happy Fella's fee around $40,000 I think," Dalgety said.
Now both mother and daughter are among the sparkling band of mares roaming the Dalgety acres. Inquisitive creatures, mistaking the Calendar vehicle for a block of blue salt lick while 'Jeanie' gets her photo taken. Dalgety insists there must be performance as well as breeding on both sides of a family. Without those two ingredients it is unlikely any progeny will have the heart or ambition to win, so essential in these cost-torn days. Jovial Jeanie's mate was unraced, but Colonel Kenton, by Local Light out of Petulus (thus a brother to top filly Golden Oriole), was, according to Dalgety, as fast as any horse he's had. "I worked him for a while and he had a ton of speed. Good gaited, too." He's served a lot of the Dalgety mares and a few well-bred outsiders as well - mares like Robyn, the dam of Game Lad and Game Two, Effie Wave, a half-sister to Sapling winner Glide Time and Laura Blue, a sister to Bachelor Blue.
When Dalgety is looking for a mare, it must come from a strong family of good winners. And over the years the policy has paid off. He and his wife Faye are recognised as one of the more successful breeders in the business. "In this industry, the racing is as important as the breeding ...and the breeding is the most fascinating," Dalgety said. He recalled how he bred and sold Module, the dam of Lord Module, for $100; how he once leased champion broodmare Desilu before sending her back to Dave Anderson ("that Delightful Lady must be one of the best mares in the world - certainly the best we have seen"); Double Agent, Gallant Guy ("they never stop winning") and Milford Mary, the three of them big successes in Australia.
He has had dozens of success stories here: Bolton Byrd (now at stud himself) and current rising star Melton Monarch, both from his Bachelor Hanover mare Nikellora, among them. But he claims a lot less success with the other side of the racing business, the thoroughbreds.
At the moment he's working a 2-year-old filly - one of about a dozen horses he has in work - and "she goes really well." She's by Main Adios from an Out To Win mare out of a Goodland mare, out of a Bachelor Hanover mare out of Karen. Basically, she's a product of stallions Dalgety has stood at Lantana Lodge. He imported Bachelor Hanover ("he really got me started here") and Out To Win, and stood Goodland on lease. Bachelor Hanover died in 1975 and he is buried with a commemorative headstone at the main gate of Dalgety's 450 acre property.
Jim Dalgety, himself, got started in the horse business at 17 when he left his parents' farm south of Oamaru (his father stood Jack Chance) to work for Cecil Devine, moving later to Maurice Holmes. "It was tough going to start with but learning the business was more important than the money. They were both great teachers, really two giants in their field." While working with those two, Dalgety was in close contact with two of the best horses he ever saw. Lookaway winner of the NZ Cup as a 4-year-old was a "brilliant" animal ("I took him to Auckland once"), while "there wouldn't have been another horse anywhere who could do a last quarter with Van Dieman. He was phenomenal." Dalgety also rates Mister Chips, who beat horses like Lordship and Robin Dundee before going to America where he just couldn't adapt to changes in conditions, as one of the best he had anything to do with.
Dalgety, now 48, himself has worked in America. He accompanied a shipment of horses to the States in 1967 and stayed on to work with Stanley Dancer for five months. It was then he first met Vernon Dancer - "one of the nicest men in the business in America" - and his wife Caroline. The Dancers owned Out To Win and his latest stallion purchase, the Race Time horse Farm Timer. "Vernon used to train Scottish Hanover and was sure he would make a good sire. He told me that years ago. He said the same thing about Out To Win and he was also quite sure with this fellow. "I didn't particularly want a Race Time horse but I really liked the look of him; he was a good performer and he comes from a great old family which seems to be getting better all the time." Fan Hanover, top 3-year-old filly in America at the moment, is closely related to Farm Timer. "He should leave them with early speed."
Back in 1967 Dalgety couldn't help but notice how everyone wanted a horse who could go quickly early. "It was high pressure stuff," he said. "No one waits in America. There is no bringing a horse in and turning him out for six months to strengthen. They either make it or they don't. If a horse is not ready, it's too bad. The situation is the same today. With so much money available for youngsters, the pressure is on to get horses racing. In New York alone, there are millions available for horses bred in the state, and other states are not too far behind with their own sires' stakes programmes. Such a scheme "would be a hell of a thing for the business here. But it would have to be backed by the Government," is Dalgety's assessment. "They would get the money back eventually anyway. As well a sires' stakes programme would boost sales, would get new owners in, would boost betting...I'm sure it's the only way trotting in the future is going to bloom - that is for the Government to put some back. The smaller clubs are under a lot of pressure. And it's not their fault they're being screwed down by the tax they have to pay the Government. Businesses and individuals like Max Harvey and Bob Owens can only keep sponsoring races for so long. There must be some move by the Government." At the moment, stakes were not keeping pace with inflation and there were too many horses in the looser classes. "We've reached saturation point with the maidens. And if somethings not done soon, a lot of good owners are going to drop out through being disillusioned by not getting starts."
Another problem contributing to the excess of horses was the breeding of too many horses from second-rate mares from the poorer families. "People are quick to breed from a mare who has failed on the track but it doesn't work. The Ashburton sale proved that. Mares from good families got the money; the others couldn't be given away. Racing must be the only industry in which people insist on breeding failures."
There is no way anyone could say Jim Dalgety himself has been a failure. But, success that he is, he's never forgotten what Cecil Devine said to him when he first started out more than thirty years ago; "You're now in the toughest profession in the world." "And he was right. He also told me you'd never get far up the tree if you didn't have the help of a few solid mates. I have been lucky. Don and Doris Nyhan have never stopped helping me from the time I first started out, and people like Wes Butt and Derek Jones used to help me along by sending me some of their young horses to educate. Maurice Holmes and Clarrie Rhodes, too, have done a lot for me both with horses and in the business sense."
There had never been a time when it was so important for those in the industry to work together. It was under a lot of pressure right now, Dalgety said. "It's a hard life but you can't neglect anything, otherwise you don't get the results on raceday." And you need more than a little luck, too. Dalgety is not usually upset whe one of his horses gets a rough passage like, say, Melton Monarch did in the Methven Cup the other week, meeting check after check and being pushed almost off the course. "You can't get worried about things like that. That's all part of racing. If you don't have luck on your side, you just don't get paid.
Credit: Graham Ingram writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 6Oct81