For Captain Odvaar Andersen, a trip around the world to watch his horse race for 12 seconds past four minutes at Addington was worth it. Especially when the horse was the $100,000 DB Draught Dominion Handicap, especially as he had never seen the horse win a race before, and moreso because he bred the horse from a stallion he imported from France 11 years ago. All this made the win by David Moss a poignant moment. The joy was shared by part-owners, the family of the late Harry Cox, whose son John has trained the horse for much of his illustrious career, though the training this season has been handled astutely by Robert Cameron.
David Moss was a warm favourite for the race, mainly on the strength of his second on Show Day behind Diamond Field. This looked the perfect tightener. He had, before that, won on the track, and his trial work had been all quality. From 10 metres behind, Cameron said he had not expected to be in front, where he was and stayed from the 2100 metres. "But I thought once I was getting round that I would use his ability. I wasn't too sure when Tony Herlihy came at me with Diamond Field after turning in just how much he had left, but he kicked again at the furlong and got there well," he said. David Moss has a record to match his impressive size. His win in the Dominion was his 19th from 57 starts, and took his earnings past $250,000.
Captain Andersen, aged 68, is now living in retirement in Oslo. He settled in New Zealand in 1966 after his appointment as consulate-general for Norway. He met the Cox family through an introduction from Peter Mills, then with the old stock firm of National Mortgage, during a visit to meet some shipping agents in Invercargill. His first acquisition was a pacing filly that neither he nor John Cox recall. But he later decided there were benefits for the New Zealand breeding industry to use the European trotters he so admired.
In the late 70's and early 80's he brought out four French stallions - Beau Nonantias (2:04.7), Gekoj (2:02.5), Iguassou (2:09.5) and Jet d'Emeraude (1:59.2) and the Norwegian horse Inter Du Pas (2:07.3). Gekoj was probably by far the best of them as a sire. He stood four seasons in Mid-Canterbury and left 83 live foals - 17 of them winners - before his death at the age of 19. In his first season at the stud he served Proud Countess, a mare by Hickory Pride that Captain Andersen had bought off Sir Roy McKenzie. Proud Countess was born in 1970, had her first foal in 1972 - to Pompano Flash in America - and was imported to New Zealand in 1974. Gekoj also sired Drott Moss, who tried twice to win the Dominion for Captain Andersen. The seafarer still has close relations to David Moss and Drott Moss in New Zealand. He is breeding from a sister to David Moss who has been served this season by Armbro Invasion. He is standing at stud in Southland Dahl Moss, a 9-year-old son of Gekoj and the Light Brigade mare, Jeepers Creepers. And he has Erling Moss, a 4-year-old three-quarter brother by Dahl Moss to Drott Moss he intends to race in Europe "if he is good enough."
The enthusiasm Captain Andersen retains for New Zealand, and its breeding industry, is mirrored in his plan now underway to stand the Super Bowl stallion Taylored Way with Cox next season. The winner of $250,000, Taylored Way is out of a Speedy Scot mare and took a 1:59 mark. He is 11 and served 30 mares this past stud season in America. "I think he is an ideal type to cross with some of the mares with French blood in New Zealand, and the three I have by Gekoj," he said. To illustrate his truly international interests, Captain Andersen in 1980 bought Robyn Tudor, a Tudor Hanover half-sister to Diamond Field from Grant Sim, and sent her to Norway where she is now breeding.
Game Paul made his contribution to give the result an overseas flavour by running third for his Australian owners, ahead of Idle Scott and Falstaff, the latter running the race of his life by finishing fifth after beginning the last 1000 metres with 10 in front of him. He tracked Diamond Field on his burst forward near the 800 metres, but found a torrid last half - which took David Moss 58.7 - just a little too hot to handle.
Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HR Weekly
Someone as far away as Norway was tuning in to David Moss' delightful winning performance in the $100,000 DB Draught Superquad Dominion Handicap.
Part owner Captain Oddvar Andersen of Oslo managed to make the trip last year to watch his champion square-gaiter win the two mile feature but this time settled for the second best option. "Captain was ringing my brother Alistair in Auckland tonight to listen to the commentary," said John Cox whose late father Harry shared in the ownership of David Moss with Captain Andersen.
David Moss posted a NZ record when trotting the 3200m in 4:06.6 - 0.8 of a second inside Idle Scott's time achieved in 1992. He came with a big stayers finish in the straight to get past a gallant pace-making Call Me Now who fought all the way to the line. Breton Abbe was not far away in third placing after enjoying the trail. Diamond Field lost his chance at the start when breaking for Tony Herlihy.
Cox did the initial training of David Moss before handing the 11-year-old on to Bob Cameron at the end of October. The veteran of the field along with Game Paul (fourth), David Moss has an abundance of determination and sheer guts. He is unreal," said Cox. "He is all heart - it's the mark of a true champion. This was better than last year's effort." Captain Andersen and Cox discussed David Moss' future earlier this year. "We decided that everything from this season onwards is a bonus," said Cox. "Captain said that if he ever started to struggle we would retire him so he could finish on top."
The preparation of David Moss this time in has been a difficult task with the 'hamstring' muscle on his hind leg taking more time than expected to heal. It was an injury that forced him out of the Rowe Cup in May. "He would have gone up to Bob's stable earlier if he had been more forward," said Cox. "He had a few problems early on and it has been a bit of a worry. Bob has done a beautiful job with him and topped him off well."
Cameron drove David Moss in his second start this campaign at Gore on October 27. "He didn't feel 100% when I drove him at Gore," said Cameron who guided him to victory in last year's Dominion Handicap. "We have since made a few alterations to his shoeing to get him more balanced."
Maurice McKendry was the successful driver behind David Moss and enjoyed his first win in the race after some close placings in previous years.
David Moss became the first horse to win back to back Dominion Handicaps since Durban Chief did so in 1957-8. The Gekoj gelding will be prepared for a tilt at the Inter-Dominions at Addngton in March. "I was talking to Bob before the race and he is likely to stay with him now through to the Inter-Dominions," said Cox. David Moss has now won 27 races including two Dominion Handicaps and a Rowe Cup taking his earnings to $433,485. He was beaten a neck by Night Allowance in the Inter-Dominion Grand Final at Alexandra Park in 1993.
Credit: Philip O'Connor writing in HRNZ Weekly
Southland owned trotters finished 1,2,3 in the $25,000 Firestone Firehawk NZ Trotting Championship. Victory went to David Moss, which had finished second in the Inter-Dominion Grand Final at his previous start, from the Purdon-trained stablemates, Diamond Field and Night Allowance.
Though trained at Winton by part-owner John Cox, David Moss has been under the care of Clive Herbert, who brought the big horse south. Cox will race him at Forbury Park this week, and then send him back to Herbert, who will prepare him for the Rowe Cup and then keep him in the stable.
Once Maurice McKendry had David Moss purring along in front, and after Night Allowance had made a costly mistake back in the field near the 1900 metres, the race soon took shape. McKendry gave David Moss more rein at the 800 metres and immediately felt good about it. "When Night Allowance came up at the 700, I saw Barry had pulled the plugs. I thought then he must have done a bit," he said. In the end, the main opposition came from the ultra-consistent Diamond Field, which came fast but not in time to make an issue of the finish.
After a stylish start to his career, David Moss went through a bad patch a year or so ago, but regular saliva tests have made the difference to his health and his form. "He seems to be getting better all the time," said McKendry. Said Cox: "The testing showed that he was a little crook in the kidneys and liver. I think he may have been affected by some sprays. They have been a great help."
Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 15Apr93
Two years ago, Williamson drove Allegro Agitato to overcome barrier nine in leading over the last 2400 metres to score in a then race and national record of 3:16.1, spoiling the party when Lyell Creek resumed his career in New Zealand. In between, only stablemate Jasmyn's Gift has spoiled Allegro Agitato's party by downing her in a superlative display last season, recording a new race and national record of 3:15.1 which still stands. Allegro Agitato recorded 3:18.1 last Friday night, but it was no less a searching contest in the cool and breezy conditions. "They really smoked along early, and while she seemed a long way from them the race really played into our hands," said Ricky May.
Allegro Agitato had only two behind her in a strung out field passing the mile, but May was soon on the move improving three-wide in the open and took up the running passing the half, proceeding to step out a quarter down the back in 29 which had everybody off the bit, before the 7-year-old Sundon mare "eased herself down" near the finish to score by two lengths over the game Some Direction, Ruthless Jenny and Toomuch To Do in a race dominated by mares.
Cracker Nova crossed fron the outside of the front line to lead early before Castleton's Mission, in very unfamiliar territory, worked wide and into the lead at the 1900m mark and took them through a rapid lead-time of 1:15. He was ready to wave the white flag when Allegro Agitato surged up on her relentless run however, and the second favourite beat only an errant Gold home.
"She can do that - ease herself down - but she was just cruising and would have picked it up again if something had come along," said May. May has been her regular pilot this season and has also won the Ashburton Flying Mile, Group 1 NZ Trotting FFA on Cup Day and $100,000 Grand Prix at Moonee Valley in December with her.
Allegro Agitato now joins such famous names as Nigel Craig, No Response and David Moss as the only two-time winners in the 49-year history of the Trotting Championship. For May it was his third Trotting Championship, having won with Warren Stapleton's Highwood and Cedar Fella, the best trotters he has driven until Allegro Agitato. "Cedar Fella was a great horse when he was sound, and Highwood could have been anything if Warren knew then what he knows now. "But they're three completely different horses - Allegro Agitato has more speed and is sound for a start."
It was Williamson's fourth training win in the event, having first signalled his arrival on the big-time trotting scene in 1996 with Role Model who downed Call Me Now, Chiola Cola and Diamond Field. Williamson, who races Allegro Agitato with Oamaru breeders Michael and Ronnie Lauren, said she will now head for "whatever mobile races there are for open class trotters," which is likely to mean a $15,000 preferential draw 2600m affair at Addington next Saturday night. If not, having accomplished her solitary mission this time in, Allegro Agitato will head to the spelling paddock before Williamson initially sets her for a crack at a third consecutive Ashburton Mile win and then suitable races at the NZ Cup Meeting, Auckland and Melbourne again.
"It is tempting to look at the Rowe Cup again, but with Delft on ten metres she is going to be jammed in there (off the front) and there's probably not much point - it's not really an option," said Williamson. "Her record from a mobile - in fact her record overall if you eliminate the races where she took no part - is quite outstanding though, and we'll just keep her to those now," he added.
While Allegro Agitato began her career with 19 races from a stand and won eight of them, more recently they have been a disaster for her and include blowing the start in the last two Dominion and Rowe Handicaps. Her only win from a stand since scoring from a 10m handicap at Addington in January, 2004, was at Gore from 40m a fortnight before the Trotting Championship in her only lead-up race. "She can be okay with nobody behind her, and that served as a suitable race to clean her up."
In 16 races from a mobile in New Zealand, Allegro Agitato has now won seven and been placed as many times, only failing to pay a dividend twice at Alexandra Park when fifth behind Delft over Christmas when noticeably below her best form, and in last year's Inter-Dominion when she galloped on her only occasion behind the gate. Overall, her record in 45 starts in 17 wins, eight seconds and eight thirds for stakes worth $356,382, with the promise of much more to come from such a lightly-raced mare.
Allegro Agitato is known about the stables as 'Cindy', a name given to her by the Laurens when she was a foal. "She grew up in a paddock with two other fillies, which looked like ugly sisters compared to her, so they called her Cinderella," said Williamson. "I've had cause to call her a few other names at times, but we all love her," he added.
Credit: Frank Marrion writing in HRWeekly 5Apr06
The death on a Hororata farm last week of Scotch Tar rekindled memories of a trotter ranked with the all-time greats. For the past three years, Scotch Tar has been cared for by Alf Phillips, and he died suddenly , aged 20.
Scotch Tar won 29 races - two Dominion Handicaps, the Dunedin Cup, the Worthy Queen Handicap, two NZ Trotting Free-For-Alls, the Ordeal Cup, a heat of the Inter-Dominions, and two Benson and Hedges Challenge Stakes. He had a versatile career, racing against pacers, setting records, and putting up some huge performances against such stars of the day as No Response, Stormy Morn, About Now, Game Way, Even Speed and Thriller Dee.
He as trained throughout his career by 'Slim' Dykman, now living in Australia, who handled him in 15 of his wins. Robert Cameron drove him in his first 10, and Peter Wolfenden in the others. Cameron was his first trainer, having bought the Tarport Coulter-Scotch Penny colt as a yearling from Sir Roy McKenzie. Scotch Penny is notable for her offspring in the case of Scotch Tar, and also for being the galloping prompter in a time trial by Garcon Roux at Hutt Park but being too slow to keep up.
The best Scotch Tar could do for Cameron in his early training was making a quarter in 36. "I wasn't getting on with him, so I put him in a dispersal sale at Ashburton and Slim bought him for $1000," said Cameron. Dykman gelded him, and the pair soon struck a chord, and Cameron was in the cart when Scotch Tar made a winning debut at Methven in September, 1977. The combination won five races that season, and five the next, including the Dominion Handicap as a 5-year-old from Spartan Prince and Framalda in NZ record time of 4:11.6 for 3200m.
Cameron and Dykman had a parting of the ways at this time, after Dykman questioned the manner in which Cameron had driven the horse. "Scotch Tar was a great competitor, but I have always said that David Moss is a better horse. He is a nice driving horse, settles and doesn't pull. But Scotch Tar was tough, and got better as he went along. In the Dominion, he was on one rein, and was beaten on the corner. But he kept trotting, kept going, and wasn't beaten in the end. And he had remarkable speed. When he raced in the Free-For-All over 2000 metres at the Cup meeting against Hands Down, he led out and went over his first quarter in 27 (26.8 in fact)," he said. In that race, Scotch Tar led for the first 1600 metres, which took him 1:57.4, until he folded over the last 200 metres.
Scotch Tar also won the Dominion Handicap as a 7-year-old from Stormy Morn and Game Way. He won once from nine starts as an 8-year-old, and he defeated Sir Castleton and Dryden Lobell in one of his two wins from seven starts as a 9-year-old.
Scotch Tar's last public appearance was at the Ashburton Trotting Club's centennial meeting in 1990. Kevin McRae prepared him for the meeting and was astonished to find that after just two weeks he covered a half in 1:05. "I'm pretty lucky if a good maiden can run a half on my track in three," he said. Once the centennial was over, Scotch Tar's final resting place was at Hororata, where his company were young horses of similar calling.
Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 8Dec93