An increase in distance to a mile and three quarters occurred when Banks Peninsula’s premier event for trotters took place on the second Saturday of October 1970. The resumption of racing at Motukarara followed last year’s temporary relocation to Rangiora Raceway. Also reinstated was an original race title of Banks Peninsula Trotting Cup, when the Club conducted its fifteenth annual meeting.
Prior to assessing this year’s Cup contenders, Christchurch Star journalist Maurice Gerard recounted a brief summary of the feature race. He endorsed a 1965 Committee decision to enhance Banks Peninsula’s spectator appeal by initiating such an event. Confirming their judgement had been “more than vindicated,” he added “the short list of winners, read like a who’s who among trotters.” A respected writer, he also outlined an expectation that the quality performers engaged in this field would ensure a great betting spectacle, with prospects of another memorable Motukarara contest.
Likely favourite was last year’s winner Light View, who again tasted success in August when accounting for Tony Bear and Direct Globe. Then at her most recent start she finished a creditable third behind Tony Bear and Precocious in the Ordeal Trotting Cup. Trained by Wes Butt, Tony Bear had been penalised 6 yards for that Addington win, consequently joining Light View as backmarker here 36 yards behind the limit. Tony Bear’s stablemate Johnny Gee would receive a 6 yard start from those backmarkers, in his second start for this season. He demonstrated his fitness with an encouraging first up fourth in the Ordeal Cup at headquarters. Both Johnny Gee and Light View were pursuing the accolades associated with becoming Banks Peninsula Trotting Cup’s first dual winner.
Waterloo had returned from the Wanganui Trotting Club Meeting, after producing strong performances in running second behind Highland Flight and third to Inferno respectively. Highland Flight’s victory wasn’t permanently documented however as he was disqualified following a positive swab, with Waterloo being promoted. Details of his placing behind Inferno didn’t appear in today’s racebook as Wanganui’s second day was completed subsequent to printing cut off time. After fulfilling driving duties on the North Island trip, Colin Berkett stepped aside and opted for champion reinsman Maurice Holmes to handle his representative. Waterloo, usually safe to begin was the sole entrant 24 yards behind.
Always a bridesmaid but never the bride, was an unfortunate tag applied to locally trained gelding Logan Count in respect of this race. Colonial bred, the 9yo by Court Martial had been twice second, before finishing fourth behind Light View at Rangiora. Denis Nyhan was engaged this year, after firstly Felix Newfield in 1967 followed by Leicester Clark 1968 and 1969. Unraced since New Zealand Metropolitan Club’s Easter Meeting, Logan Count started alone behind the 18 yard barrier strand.
Although an increase in distance to fourteen furlongs, or a mile and three quarters probably assisted today’s backmarkers, there remained sufficient quality performers on the limit mark capable of surprising.
Auckland owned Precocious heralded early success when at Addington she beat all but Tony Bear in the Ordeal Cup. The Johnny Globe mare now with Jack Carmichael, was expected to produce another strong bid and perhaps complete her first South Island win from a handy barrier.
Other prospects on the front line included last year’s runner up Merrin, who remained unsighted this season, as was capable mare Cleome. Ashburton winner Going had been most impressive in lesser company, along with promising 5yo Winterlight gelding Beau Winter. His early season Addington performances certainly indicated he was capable of measuring up to top company trotters. Beau Winter was owned and trained by Templeton horseman B.J. (Barrie) Hamilton who had enjoyed success with his Light Brigade sire a decade prior.
Tasman together with Break Through, runners with little form and even less totalisator support both broke badly before being pulled up. Merrin led out and then trailed Briganelli, who in turn handed up to Laplander with just over a round remaining. That lead was short lived however as Beau Winter challenged Laplander and took over 7 furlongs out. Barrie Hamilton controlled tempo down the back straight, leaving Aronmot and Owen Quinlan without cover. Although still in front on the corner, Beau Winter was under pressure shortly thereafter as Precocious, Going, and Waterloo assumed prominence. Merrin who remained handily placed throughout by Bob Young, moved up and into the lead about a furlong from home. That combination had things well under control in the concluding stages, winning convincingly from Precocious and Waterloo who both finished off strongly after improving from well back.
Going who received a favourable run until straightening up, looked somewhat cramped for room at about the furlong mark, when still appearing to be travelling well. South Canterbury mare Conclusion battled on in a gap of two lengths, after being handily placed all the way by trainer G.D. (Geordie) Shand.
Merrin was having his first start in nearly a year after going amiss following the Ashburton meeting on Boxing Day. Part owner and trainer R.C. (Bob) Day accepted responsibility for Merrin’s enforced layoff, stating that in hindsight he may have given the horse too much racing. Nonetheless it was a deserved victory and some compensation following last year’s luckless second placing. Equally appropriate is Bob Young’s inclusion on the winners list. Quietly spoken the much respected reinsman of Scot’s descent, Young was quite rightly considered a dab hand with squaregaiters, having achieved victory in all significant events on our trotting calendar. Earlier in race two, the veteran horseman prevailed with Lessaday, another son of Court Martial in a maiden trot at odds of nearly fifteen to one.
Once again totalisator brackets provided a significant feature for investors, most notably the three part favourite coupling representing Wes Butt’s barn. Johnny Gee driven by his trainer and Tony Bear, this year handled by M.A. (Murray) Butt were coupled with latest recruit Briganelli, in the hands of stable reinsman D.J. (Jeremy) White. Unfortunately the favourite trio was unable to return a dividend for its army of supporters. Briganelli, after leading early and still being handy turning in, simply failed to stay. Neither Johnny Gee nor Tony Bear really threatened with both running on fairly, the later doing best when finishing sixth. Representing Jack Carmichael were the aged mares Precocious and Cardigan Lass. With their trainer electing to handle Precocious; a full sister to Au Fait, experienced Ashburton horseman D.L. (David) McGregor was tasked with steering Cardigan Lass. Light View who appeared most disappointing for Derek Jones was later thought to be in season, together with Fair Play, both sported the Templeton partnership’s familiar maroon and grey stripes. Fair Play driven by co trainer Jack Grant was an older full brother to the winner Merrin, being by Court Martial and out of excellent U Scott producer Tat Scott. Sent out second favourite by punters, neither Fair Play nor Light View emerged from a rearward position to justify that solid support.
Today’s meeting was held in fine, cool weather and witnessed by another very large crowd. The ten race programme was completed upon a well grassed track, although recent rain left it rated as dead. Second leg of today’s double, the two mile Ellesmere Handicap attracted a strong field of twenty. Backmarker Seltreb was prepared by Lloyd Ashton for Vice President Mr L.W.J. (Les) Woods, together with his brother Committeeman Mr H.R. (Bert) Woods. The gelding’s title represented reverse spelling of his owner’s respective Christian names. Another runner in this event was Johnny Globe gelding Pine Globe, raced by Immediate Past President Mr I.C. (Ivor) Gray together with his wife. Unfortunately neither was able to feature prominently for the high profile club administrators, with Rauka Lad beating Globe Bay by a nose.