1967 Johnny Gee


With stake money in 1968 consolidated at $2,000.00 following last year’s conversion to decimal currency, Templeton horseman Wes Butt eyed today’s prize with quality stallions, Johnny Gee and Victorian reared trotter Tony Bear.

Johnny Gee was having his first start since Addington’s National meeting in August, having finished second followed by a third placing respectively. After his first up effort behind Direct Globe, a troublesome tendency to run inwards almost certainly cost him victory the next week, when very narrowly denied by northern raiders Rannach Lad and Single Cash. Then after being eased when suffering a minor setback, the showy bay indicated that he was fully recovered, with his mid week trial at Ashburton. Sired by Intangible, Tony Bear had been acquired by the Mankind Lodge team following completion of last season’s Inter Dominion series at Alexandra Park. During his stablemate’s absence in September, Tony Bear had returned to winning form at the New Brighton meeting, accounting for Direct Globe and Uteena.  Like Johnny Gee, he too had been prominent without being extended in Tuesday’s Ashburton trial, won by the South Canterbury trained gelding Stylish Major.

Rolleston trainer Owen Quinlan presented 5yo Court Martial gelding Aronmot together with Uteena. The latter a consistent U. Scott mare, had recorded two thirds in her three starts since resuming and warranted consideration from 24yards behind.  Aronmot, with three failures at Addington this season after successive victories in May, would have Bob Young’s experience to assist his endeavours. Logan Count was attempting to go one better than when desperately unlucky behind Stylish Major twelve months prior. He produced an excellent effort when a close fourth at the National Meeting behind Rannach Lad, but mistakes in his other two races had been costly. Fresh this year, aged mares Harbour Light and Tronso joined the two Wes Butt trained entires 18 yards behind.

Denis Nyhan was there wearing the famous “Black with Pink crossed sashes and sleeves.”  He would handle very much in form Direct Globe, a gelded son of Johnny Globe raced by his parents and boasting previous success on this track. Direct Globe’s form had been excellent since resuming, having recorded a win before being knocked over on day two of New Zealand Metropolitan’s National Meeting. He bounced back with a strong second to Tony Bear the following fortnight at New Brighton’s meeting. Bold Axworth, a gelding by Light Brigade stallion Masterpiece had completed an impressive double at the September Hutt Park meeting in more modest company. He was trained at Cust in North Canterbury by R.A. (Rewi) Dew; with Doug Watts replacing Derek Jones who was committed to drive his own mare Dispense. Place chances were considered best for Acquit, Gala Song and Russell.

Stewards officially described track conditions as holding, on a race day that dawned fine. With punters expecting the Butt bracket to figure prominently in today’s finish, they were installed a firm favourite on both machines. That support was fully justified as Wes Butt and Johnny Gee saluted Judge Mr Max Mace ahead of Logan Count, who was positively driven by his trainer Leicester Clark. Logan Count had assumed control from Tronso at the half mile peg and sprinted clear on the home turn. Still maintaining that advantage a furlong out, he was far from disgraced when running second, only half a length in arrears of Johnny Gee. It appeared however that the Greenpark trained gelding would be destined to only complete a supporting role, rather than starring in his prestigious local event.

Johnny Gee trailed back in the third or fourth line, just inside and behind his stablemate for much of today’s twelve furlong trip. His trainer, an extremely capable horseman found racing room soon after straightening up, but was content to wait until late in the piece before asking for one final effort. When produced by Wes Butt, the son of Johnny Globe appeared inclined to run inward. An experienced driver however, Butt didn’t bustle his charge who then kept a reasonably straight line to win more comfortably than the half length margin would suggest. Butt assessed that Johnny Gee was most effective when left saved up for one late run and had driven him accordingly.

Tony Bear endorsed his last start winning form by taking third place for R.D. (Robin) Butt, two and a half lengths behind Logan Count. He would prove to be a great money spinner for Melbourne owner Mr J.T. (Jim) Smith; fully justifying his earlier decision of having Tony Bear remain in New Zealand.  Three lengths further afield was Stylish Major who worked hard wide out in the middle stages for D.J. (Doody) Townley. The backmarker battled on well in only his second start back after a spell. His 30 yard handicap, together with being forced over extra ground for much of the last mile, probably took its toll. Direct Globe was next to finish ahead of Tronso, who weakened after leading for 800 yards from the mile post.  Uteena, Bold Axworth and Dispense headed the remainder.

Dispense was slow to begin, with Aronmot and Harbour Light both breaking at the start. Outsider Russell who was currently domiciled at P.K. (Kevin) Ryder’s Kaiapoi stable, galloped early and again later. He subsequently failed to complete the journey after being pulled up by driver and a former trainer Jack Litten.

Gala Song was again disappointing when finishing tenth. It proved to be her last race as she headed toward the broodmare’s paddock.

Four year old Caduceus maiden pacer His Nibs delivered a promise of what was to come, when prevailing narrowly in today’s opening event. From Light Brigade mare Atone and therefore a younger half brother to Johnny Gee, His Nibs represented the first of two winning catch drives for Denis Nyhan. Ironically a month later, His Nibs and Johnny Gee won consecutive races immediately following Humphrey’s victory in the New Zealand Cup at Addington.

Johnny Gee, who was raced by his trainer, secured his first victory since scoring in a heat of the Auckland Inter Dominion Championships last February. On that night he beat subsequent Grand Final Champion Stylish Major by the barest of margins. Interestingly, Johnny Gee failed when initially tried with hopples and it was only as a last resort that Wes Butt encouraged the colt to trot. After disappointing when first presented in a maiden race, Johnny Gee responded second up by winning the 3yo New Zealand Trotting Stakes, at odds exceeding thirty five to one.

As a result of running first and third, the favourite bracket returned $3.70 to win and $2.80 for a place. Dividends that represented exceptional value for favourite each way punters.

Winning performances in the other trotting events were recorded by Mystic King and trainer R.G. (Ray) Morris together with All Alone and Bill Doyle for his daughter L.A. (Lynn) Doyle. All Alone was from Ripcord mare Reflective, the first foal left by Passive and yet further evidence of her remarkable impact.