Jillinda 1974

Another modest stake increase enabled prize money distribution totalling $2700.00, when the smallest field on record was carded in 1974 to round out a decade of Banks Peninsula Trotting Cups.  It was also time to reinstate traditional naming of each race, albeit with understated support from some hospitality venues within the region.

Ellesmere 5yo Edis Nova was building a solid fitness base as she attempted to repeat last year’s impressive local cup victory. Opening her season at Addington’s National Meeting in August, Edis Nova produced an improved result on the second night behind Methven mare Jillinda. New Brighton’s Ordeal Trotting Cup provided Edis Nova with another outing over 2,600 metres four weeks later.

On that occasion she delivered a robust performance from 10 metres, securing third money, again behind an in form Jillinda and Now Charles. Freeman Holmes, part owner, trainer and recent driver of Edis Nova, accompanied his champion 3yo colt Noodum to Dunedin for Forbury Park’s Spring Meeting which was also scheduled on October 12th. Insodoing he created an opportunity for probationary driver R.O. (Ross) Wheeler to undertake his first competitive experience at a totalisator meeting.

A son of part owner Les Wheeler, Ross had accompanied Edis Nova together with other team members at local trial meetings. Another promising young reinsman C.J. (Colin) de Filippi replaced older brother M.R. (Mike) behind Cee Ar. Mike had driven the gelding, named after Colin (C.R.) Berkett in his three starts to date this season. Last season’s Rowe Cup winner, Cee Ar failed to flatter in Jillinda’s Ordeal Trotting Cup after delivering two heartening placed efforts at New Zealand Metropolitan’s National Meeting.

With only four runners off the front and a similar number on 10 metres, those handicapped further back were realistically considered winning hopes. Cee Ar was joined on 15 metres by Bachelor Tom, who kicked off his season with a convincing Addington victory in August. His two subsequent runs at the same venue hadn’t been as impressive, but he was far too good to discount. As he had done at Addington in his season’s opener, classy Oamaru squaregaiter Philemon would concede the limit markers 35 metres. A 9yo by Sun Chief, he was driven by Jack Smolenski who had been successfully associated with the gelding  following his disappointing finish in last season’s Banks Peninsula Trotting Cup. This lethal winning combination which culminated in Dominion Handicap success enabled Smolenski to complete a prestigious double in 1973, after Arapaho took out the New Zealand Cup. Out of a Swordsman mare Judear, Philemon along with his two half sisters Bethel and Bethseda, was clearly named with historical religious intent.

In form Mid Canterbury trained mare Jillinda appealed as a likely favourite following her commanding back to back Addington victories. In the first of those when beating Edis Nova, she recorded a faster time than National Handicap winner Kotare Legend. Generally safe, the 10 metre handicap was unlikely to prevent Jillinda from assuming a prominent position after barrier release. A repeat of those Addington tactics where she was able to dictate terms would ensure rivals would encounter difficulty in running her down.

Of the limit markers, unpredictable 5yo stallion Dupreez appeared to have winning prospects after he won New Brighton’s Ern Smith Handicap, but then broke hopelessly a week later in Jillinda’s Ordeal Trotting Cup. His best would undoubtedly be good enough, but he was very hard to follow. Fashionably bred, the entire was raced by his breeder Mrs N.M. (Nora) Jones, wife of trainer Derek Jones. Out of the Fallacy broodmare Craven, a great grand daughter of 1919 New Zealand Cup winner Trix Pointer, Dupreez was a younger half brother to 1971 Interdominion Champion Geffin. Members of this family were predominately named after high profile South African rugby representatives. Another rated an each way chance was Leeston trained Scottish Command gelding Scottish Cavalier. His fast finishing Ordeal Cup fourth confirmed T.M. (Terry) McMillan had the 8yo ready to run a bold race. Although well beaten in this race last year, he had previously displayed an appreciation of grass tracks, having recorded victories at Waimate, Geraldine, Hororata and Rangiora.

A soft track under overcast skies provided the backdrop as Land Point stood motionless at tape release, refusing to move for trainer, driver D.M.H. (Denis) Bunz. With trainer Dick Caskey back on board, Bambi made his customary flier from 10 metres to be the early leader. Both Scottish Cavalier and Dupreez took turns in front before Waipounamu driven by Jack Carmichael gained control at the 1,900 metre mark.  Jillinda ranged up measuring stride with Waipounamu for two hundred metres, before Carmichael relented, electing to drop in and trail the favourite.

S. M. (Max) Miller and his mare employed their usual; catch me if you can tactics, leaving Edis Nova who followed Jillinda forward, forced to sit parked out. With approximately 500 metres to run and having benefited from a beautiful run courtesy of Derek Jones, second favourite Dupreez galloped when three back on the fence. As they turned for home Jillinda was still travelling well enough, however Edis Nova was feeling the pinch after her tough trip and began to tire in front of Lessaday. At the furlong Jillinda remained in control, Waipounamu was still prominent with Cee Ar and Lessaday showing up. It was Jillinda, sporting Max Miller’s emerald green and red chequers who just prevailed, as they completed the run to Judge Mr R.F. (Ray) McCoubrey.

Cee Ar made it a Johnny Globe Quinella, only just failing to emulate his half sister Tronso by winning the event. His effort in closing from beyond mid field and fully extending Jillinda, provided one of the race features. Only half neck back, outsider of the field Lessaday went a much improved race, finishing third for trainer Graham Holmes. Although in a gap of three lengths, Scottish Cavalier may have been closer than fourth but for receiving an interrupted home straight passage. He finished resolutely, clear of Waipounamu who headed the well beaten brigade after enduring a broken boring pole. The gear was subsequently inspected and found to be in good order. Neither Bachelor Tom nor Philemon appeared entirely comfortable with today’s conditions, described by some as puggy; both finishing rearward, having only the recalcitrant Land Point behind them.

8yo Johnny Globe mare, Jillinda rounded off a memorable fortnight for an unassuming Miller who also won the Methven Cup with Armbro Brent.

Jillinda had won three races as a pacer, when trained by breeder and part owner L. M. (Lou) Harvey. It was not until Miller accepted training responsibilities and concentrated on trotting events, that she produced her best results. From the hugely successful Pride of Lincoln family, Jillinda was out of top class trotting mare Gay Gillian. Rakaia based Harvey had also trained Gay Jillian who he raced in partnership with his wife, for one of her seven victories, after she was initially presented by Gordon Middleton. Jillinda currently raced in the interests of prominent owner Mr A.R. (Arthur) Idiens who purchased her mid way through 1973.

Five of today’s beaten contingent intended travelling to Auckland for the lucrative Stars Travel Challenge Stakes later in October; however Jillinda’s connections declined their invitation.  Afterwards, Miller outlined why Jillinda would bypass this opportunity to go north. “First it would have been getting a bit close to the New Zealand Cup Meeting and I want to keep her as fresh as possible for the Dominion Handicap.” He also confirmed “she has never been behind the mobile gate, or raced right handed.” Accordingly it was decided that Jillinda would race at Greymouth to continue her preparation for Cup week.

Several noteworthy statistics were revealed when a decade of Banks Peninsula Trotting Cups were concluded. Driving success was evenly distributed, with ten individual winning reinsmen. Jack Carmichael appeared in all ten contests with Derek Jones completing nine engagements and Maurice Holmes eight. Mares recorded six victories, geldings three, with Johnny Gee being the sole winning stallion. Inaugural winner When remained the oldest at ten, with 4yo Edis Nova being youngest in 1973. There was one nine year old, two aged eight with the remainder either six or seven. Light Brigade sired four of the winners leading Johnny Globe with two.