Day At The Track

Bonnie's Chance comes to prominence in 1980

10:05 PM 17 Nov 2008 NZDT
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Bonnie's Chance and Richard Brosnan
Bonnie's Chance and Richard Brosnan

Bonnie's chance, a daughter of Majestic Chance and the Aksarben mare Bonnie Countess, came to national prominence in 1980/81 as a 5-year-old from Richard Brosnan's Kerrytwon stable. Mrs Bonnie McGarry, of Timaru, and Mrs Karen Grice, of Invercargill, Paid $1000 for her dam, a daughter of Countess Ada, who also left top pacers including Gliding Princess.

Countess Ada was by imported Volomite - Dell Frisco horse Stormyway from the good U.Scott mare Ada Scott, winner of 10 races including a heat of the 1951 Interdominion Championships at Addington. Among Ada Scott's seven winners was Our Day, dam of Dayvander (p, 1:58 3/5), Day Command (p, 1:58 4/5) and Anne's Day (p, 1:59 1/5).

Ada Scott's dam Princess Ada, who left other winner in Tom Desborough, whose sire Desbourgh (bred by Andy Pringle) was by Logan Pointer from Lily F., an Australian-bred daughter of Frita's brother Franz and Lily H., a daughter of the imported American stallion Huon.

Molly Desborough was one of only two winners sired by Desborough, a well-performed pacer in the Dunedin District in the 1920s. Molly Desborough's dam Molly McKinney was by a reasonably successful American importation young McKinney from Seacliff, a daughter of the Blackwood Abdallah horse Brooklyn, after whom one of the founding fathers of Canterbury trotting, Henry Mace, named his Brooklyn Lodge establishment that became New Brighton racecourse. Seacliff's dam was unknown.

Countess Ada was unraced after hurting a hip as a youngster. Her first two foals were of no account, and Bonnie's Chance was her third.

Trained first at Oreti Beach by Alex Black, Bonnie's Chance from her first three starts as a three-year-old in 1978/79 won the Invercargill Trotting Club's Cardigan Bay Handicap, was second in the Wairio Christmas Stakes and won the Invercargill Trotting Club's Southland Breeders' Stakes.

Next trained at Kaiapoi by T.F (Trevor) Thompson, Bonnie's Chance had little luck for him before being taken over by Winton trainer W.A (Bill) Kyle, for whom she returned to good form.

At four she won at Gore Twice, Winton, Forbury Park and Washdyke for Kyle, who trained her also for a win, three seconds and a fourth from the first five starts of her 5-year-old season. Brosnan, who first handled her when beaten a head by Haughty Romeo in the Ollivier Mile at the 1980 New Zealand Cup carnival, trained and drove her to run Locarno to a Neck in the New Brighton Pan Am Mile that followed, won in 1:58.2. Their first win together came in the Canterbury Park New Year Free-for-all; an impressive victory over Sapling in 1:58.7.

Then, at the 1981 Wellington Cup meeting, Brosnan reined Bonnie's Chance to a national mare's record 2:33.6 for 2000 metres from a stand on the first night and then to a six-length win from Trevira and company in the Cup in another record for a mare, 3:06.6 for 2400 metres from a stand.

At Forbury Park later that January, Bonnie's Chance easily beat Lord Module and Sapling in a 2700-metre mobile free-for-all, while on opening night of the Auckland Cup carnival, meeting Delightful Lady for the first time, Bonnie's Chance won by three lengths in a national mare's record of 2:48 for 2200 metres from a stand. Delightful Lady, from 25 metres, was a game second.

Sent out 2-2 in the bettering for the 1981 Auckland Cup, Bonnie's Chance, given the run of the race, dropped out to last and returned distressed, she had been hit by a virus and was out for the season. Her toiling at five had garnered $41,720.

At six, though beaten into second in both the big Cups, she was the nation's top stake-earner with $119,215, the result of eight wins and five placing from 15 starts.

She burst into the limelight winning the pacing free-for-all at Addington in August by Six lengths, equalling her own national Marks of 2:33.6 and timed over her last 800 metres in 56.7 seconds. Then she took the Hutchinson Free-for-all at Addington in September by three lengths from stableman Trojan.

Unluckily fifth in the Oamaru Hannon Memorial, Bonnie's Chance also had little luck in the New Zealand Cup. Away well, she trailed Pacemaker Watbro and was forced back to the rear at the home turn as Armalight shot clear. Finishing brilliantly when clear, Bonnie's Chance was nevertheless seven lengths from Armalight at the end.

Second (in 2:24.1) when Armalight second her amazing 2:23.5 win in the New Zealand Free-for-all, Bonnie's Chance was unluckily fifth in the Matson. On 5 December, in the hands of Pat O'Reilly jun. (substituting for the suspended Brosnan), Bonnie's Chance scored handsomely in 4:12 from Hands Down in the New Brighton Cup.

With Armalight going amiss, the New Zealand Standardbred Breeders' Stakes was a gift for Bonnie's Chance and she won by 10 lengths in another mare's record, 1:58. Her stablemate Sweet Jessica took second. Three nights later Bonnie's Chance overcame traffic Problems to win the $10,000 Ansett Flying Mile at Addington by eight lengths from Trevira in another record, 1:57.1.

Driven by Maurice McKendry on opening night of the 1982 Auckland Cup meeting, But from a bad drew in the Cup she became trapped on the rails. When she finally gained racing room she came out so quickly that she wound up well toward the outer reaches of the broad, right-handed track before Brosnan could balance her for the fun up the straight. She then chased and gathered in Gammalite, but that grand performer fought back and at the line was holding her out by a head.

At Addington a week Later Bonnie's chance powered to a three-length Pan Am Mile win, lowering her national mark again to 1:56.7; the first of her sex to win the race since its inception in 1972. a week later, in the Couplands Flying Mile Feature at Washdyke, Bonnie's Chance held out Hands Down by a neck and this time her 1:54.2 clocking equalled Lord Module's national race mark for all ages and sexes.

In the Easter Cup that Followed, Hands Down gained his revenge, beating Bonnie's Chance by three-quarters of a length in 4:14.1 over a slushy track after the mare was late working clear.

Second to Delightful Lady in the North Island Standarbred Breeders' Stakes in Auckland, Bonnie's Chance was eased with the big Cups and Auckland Inter-dominions of 1982/83 in view. Her record stood at 21 wins and 14 placing from 53 starts for $177,670. Brosnan's training record with her was 13 wins from 26 starts.

It was obvious a lot more was in store for the combination.


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