Pursuant to gifting a stallion service, participating Stud Farm s were allocated naming rights for each programmed race as commercial sponsorship was fully embraced in 1971. Those offerings, together with winning stakes were duly distributed to connections successful throughout the day. A donated service by Lordship, courtesy of Mr and Mrs D.G. (Don) Nyhan represented highest value at $300.00 and was appropriately attached to the feature race.
Today’s strong Banks Peninsula Cup field included several potential winning prospects, although popular selections focused on the principal participants in last year’s finish Merrin, Precocious and Waterloo. A noted grass track performer, Merrin hadn’t achieved victory throughout the season but his most recent third and fourth placed efforts suggested that this milestone maybe close at hand. He was the recipient of significant punter support when handled by Felix Newfield in all three Addington starts since resuming. A left handed reinsman, Newfield had partnered Merrin subsequent to Bob Young’s compulsory retirement when the 1970/71 season concluded.
Beautifully bred, Precocious had recorded spring victories at New Zealand Metropolitan and New Brighton meetings for her trainer Jack Carmichael. Waterloo had delivered improved efforts at Wanganui after completing three unplaced Addington appearances. Colin Berkett ventured north, pursuing a similar early season programme to last year with his 9yo charge. On opening day his Light Brigade gelding prevailed over hot favourite Tony Bear, appearing to relish the soft grass track. Backing up forty eight hours later in the river city, he was narrowly beaten by Easton Light after giving that runner a 24 yard start.
Going who was considered unlucky when fourth last year, completed a resounding first up victory at Ashburton when accompanied by Doody Townley. After conceding starts of up to 60 yards over one mile and a half, she unwound strongly, dashing home late to narrowly defeat Frontier. Master conditioner Bill Doyle was retracing his proven formula of producing Going in peak condition for the Motukarara target. In replicating his plan of 1970, he preceded Banks Peninsula’s meeting with an outing at Ashburton seven days prior. Believing that Going had been suitably prepared to win last year, he simply repeated the process.
8yo Marius, exceptional when at his best had been far too good in the Ordeal Trotting Cup, winning effortlessly by three lengths and historically found another length on a grass track.
Then there was Al Mundy, scheduled to be driven by Woolston trainer A.J. (Ginger) Bourne, boasting two wins and a pair of seconds from his last four starts. A gelding by Flying Song, Al Mundy was up in class, but the calibre of those performances suggested that he would be competitive from his handy barrier draw. Other capable limit markers included Bambi who had been checked and galloped at Addington, together with Philemon another mistake maker in all three starts since resuming. Also turning in behind the front tape were Logan Park along with Seddon trained Johnny Fling; neither given much chance of upsetting.
After producing three seconds, a third and one fourth from five attempts since resuming, the very consistent Templeton entire Tony Bear was rated strong each way value, even from 36 yards. Fellow back marker Light View had been most disappointing at Wanganui, with Derek Jones subsequently indicating that she was anything but a certain starter.
With only four limit markers, Bambi capitalised on his usual brilliant beginning from out wide, settling down in front of outsider Johnny Fling driven by Jack Smolenski. A 6yo by yet another Light Brigade stallion Forward, Bambi was handled by South Canterbury owner R.S. (Dick) Caskey who also trained the gelding. Being relatively unchallenged in front Caskey remained positive and attempted to complete an all the way victory.
After being reported in daily newspaper publications as being driver of Philemon, Maurice Holmes replaced Ginger Bourne behind Al Mundy, when the Oamaru trotter was scratched. Unfortunately both Al Mundy and Dingle Bay ruined their chances when galloping at the start, with Marius following suit by making a serious mistake after two furlongs.
Meanwhile after beginning efficiently from an inside draw 12 yards behind, Doody Townley had Going covered up three back enjoying a lovely trip behind Johnny Fling. Tony Bear made a flier from 36 yards to settle parked out three or four lengths from leader Bambi, with Logan Park on his back and Precocious closer in. Content to sit without cover, Wes Butt applied no pressure which determined little change of position as they completed the first round.
With just under three furlongs remaining Bambi still travelled well enough although Johnny Fling was yielding his trailing position. Townley eased Going out and around Tony Bear who was also struggling. Jack Carmichael followed suit with Precocious allowing Merrin, who had been last with a round to go, an unimpeded run right up along the fence. Merrin actually headed Bambi to lead inside the furlong, but couldn’t withstand Going’s irresistible claim. Tactically it was an inspired piece of work by L.C. (Leo) May who landed the opportunity behind Merrin, with previous driver Felix Newfield being committed to stable runners at Forbury Park. His prime focus there Waratah, finished a creditable second to Robalan in the G.J. Barton Memorial Handicap. Bambi fought bravely after being headed at the furlong, hanging on to finish third in a gap of three lengths. Precocious the next home, finished in front of Johnny Fling who was unable to capitalise on his economical run. After breaking badly in the early stages, favourite Marius showed real speed to be challenging wide out turning for home. That effort took its toll however and not surprisingly he was unable to sustain his winning claim over the last two furlongs.
Going once again endorsed arguably the most significant and successful breeding cross of this era. She emerged a product of the last season at stud by outstanding Volomite horse Light Brigade; from an unraced U Scott mare Circlette. Going was bred by Mrs D.A. (Denise) Nyhan, a capable horsewoman in her own right and daughter of owner Bill Doyle. Mrs Nyhan’s husband Denis Nyhan, prepared several other members of this family, in both gaits. Although unable to drive, having reached compulsory retirement age, Bill Doyle achieved his second owning and training success in the race. He praised Doody Townley for his handling of the chestnut. “She finished fourth last year but should have won. An error of judgement on my part, cost her the race,” he claimed. Upon trophy presentation Doyle announced that he would donate $100.00 of stake money to the 1974 Commonwealth Games Fund. Going’s best form appeared to be reserved for large grass tracks, which probably mitigated her enduring soreness issues in behind. Consequently, Doyle confirmed her following start would be next month’s Dominion Handicap in five weeks time.
Today’s racebook available to on course patrons was a large glossy covered document. By comparison with present day publications, it was somewhat economical with regard to historical, statistical punter information and contained a glaring error in respect of Going. The mare was described as being by Light Brigade; but incorrectly out of Passive, her owner’s most prolific producer. Ironically her details were displayed accurately in the previous year’s book, when she ran fourth.
Gypsy Globe at odds in excess of 50-1, for Bobby Nyhan and favourite Caswell driven by Maurice Holmes completed victories in the supporting races for trotters.
Mr R.E. (Reon) Murtha became Club Commentator, succeeding legendary Mr D.B. (David) Clarkson who called “this time and they’re on the journey “ for a final time, at Banks Peninsula Racing Club’s March Meeting earlier in 1971. A prominent auctioneer and longstanding voice of the industry Clarkson was awarded Life Membership in acknowledgement of his contribution to Banks Peninsula Trotting Club.
Immediately preceding the Banks Peninsula Trotting Cup was a maiden race. One runner in that capacity field was a 4yo Thurber Frost mare named Belmer Lady, trained and driven by Methven horseman M.A. (Murray) Watson. Unfortunately thirty five year old Watson was dislodged from his sulky soon after getting under way and contacted the inside wooden running rail. The seriously injured reinsman was relocated to Christchurch Hospital for treatment, but tragically succumbed to those injuries a week later. He was survived by his wife L.C. (Lorraine), who made history in 1995 being first woman to drive in the New Zealand Trotting Cup.