Banks Peninsula Trotting Club’s premier contest of 1969 included several notable features including an incremental stake increase, lifting prize money to $2,150 in support of the event’s expanding profile. A modest form of sponsorship appeared as Banks Peninsula’s Trotting Cup was rebranded the Markalan Handicap, pursuant to receipt of a $100 trophy donated by committee man Mr. E. T. (Ted) Hubbard. Markalan was an outstanding juvenile trotter part owned, trained and driven by Hubbard, after having earlier bred the gelding. He won fourteen races including the New Zealand Trotting Stakes for 3yo’s and was a winner in open company.
Prospects of today’s five race jackpot dividend exceeding $10,000 appealed as a likely on course attraction, when an accumulated sweepstake pool of $4946.50 was carried forward from the recent Hororata, Methven and Ashburton meetings. Prior to the advent of percentage betting, selections embracing five nominated races were submitted by punters, at a cost 50 cents per entry.
Most significantly, today’s meeting was transferred to Rangiora Raceway following acknowledgement that Motukarara’s track surface had not sufficiently recovered from top dressing and re-sowing, completed at the conclusion of last season. Increasing today’s race distance by a furlong was necessary to accommodate the configuration of Rangiora’s track, which presented in an easy condition following welcome mid-week rain. Weather conditions remained fine but a shade cool, with both on and off course betting well up, although investment in the Jackpot was surprisingly indifferent. Three live tickets remained after the penultimate event, but none selected last leg winner Waratah, who started third favourite with tote punters. The unclaimed pool forwarded on to Kaikoura Trotting Club’s meeting in early November with a residual balance of $7,386.50
The feature race attracted another magnificent field promoting wide ranging considerations and offered punter’s various selection possibilities. Well mannered Light Brigade gelding Briganelli prepared at Yaldhurst by Noel Berkett, together with Hutt Park winner Cardigan Lass had both exhibited the attributes required to feature prominently in this event. Light View and Merrin were other limit markers receiving support in the written media. Templeton trained mare Light View had been impressive, subsequent to going off stride after 100 yards, when only beaten a head by Briganelli in the Ordeal Cup. That indiscretion prevented a third straight victory, after she scored first up from 48 yards on Hororata’s grass, before repeating the dose a week later in New Brighton’s Ern Smith Trotting Handicap at Addington. Merrin had easily accounted for a field of intermediate grade trotters over two miles at the National meeting, but three subsequent efforts up in grade were disappointing. A lightly raced 5yo gelding, Merrin’s true ability wasn’t reflected in his form line but he was comfortable on the turf, having previously recorded four grass track victories. After scoring a double at the National Meeting in August, Royal Armour had failed to trot fluently in his two ensuing Addington starts. He appeared back to his best however with an outstanding trial performance at Ashburton on Tuesday. Conceding starts of up to 120 yards, the gelding by Protector succeeded with something in reserve for owner, trainer F.R. (Frank) Bebbington. Interestingly bred and aptly named, Royal Armour was by a son of Light Brigade, from Court Martial mare Shendi Lass. Court Martial was of course also by Light Brigade. Royal Armour therefore represented an example of achieving a double strain of Light Brigade.
Principals of last year’s finish, stablemates Johnny Gee and Tony Bear together with Logan Count all had claims from the 24 yard mark. Wes Butt’s pair had displayed their usual consistency throughout spring, without gracing the winners circle. On the other hand Logan Count had been most disappointing in his three outings at Addington. He hinted of better things when finishing sixth behind the intermediate grade pacers over two miles on Ashburton Flying Stakes day and would appreciate Motukarara’s grass once again. He was well capable of improving on his runner up position of the last two years. A most consistent Break Through was sure to have his supporters, after three placed runs at Addington.
After Briganelli, Towser and backmarker Stylish Major were scratched the remaining field of fifteen still promised to deliver an exciting spectacle.
All that remained was Ron Carter barking the order “Checks up, in your carts.” before further instructing “We’ll have the pole horse this time,” then releasing barriers and dispatching them from a stand.
Light View was best to begin in front of Shady Maid and led for three furlongs before trailing the Arthur Pratt owned, trained and driven Break Through, who executed a swift getaway from 12 yards. Coventry and Laplander were also handy in front of Aronmot who settled outside Tony Bear. Logan Count and Royal Armour were slow with Merrin going off stride after a furlong and drifting to the rear. Positions remained unchanged until coming off the back, where Logan Count sprinted up and around Buller visitor Coventry, who had been sitting without cover for Maurice Holmes. With Leicester Clark urging Logan Count clear turning for home, it appeared likely his winning time had arrived.
Meanwhile supporters of Light View endured some anxious moments after straightening up, when she was trapped in behind the retreating Break Through. It was well inside the final furlong that Derek Jones firstly secured an inside passage, before then working his 6yo mare out into clear air where she dashed through to score narrowly. Bred by Hororata farmer Mr C.E. (Charlie) Hunt, Light View was the first horse that he had raced. He confirmed refusing several offers for the Light Brigade mare, with a subsequent broodmare career in mind.
Light View’s victory underlined the ice cool temperament of her driver who once again displayed all his judgement, patience and experience. Shortly after this race Jones left for Forbury Park where he repeated today’s winning performance with Leading Light in the G.J. Barton Memorial Handicap. He was much sought after by “Doubles” punters, who engaged in what was a very popular betting medium and contributed significantly to daily turnover statistics. By season’s end, the partnership of Jack Grant and Derek Jones had secured another training premiership, repeating their initial success of 1965/66.