Day At The Track

Castleton's Pride and No Response

01:36 AM 29 Sep 2008 NZDT
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No Response Castleton's Pride
No Response - 24 wins, 21 placing and $135,128
A Salute To Trotting with Ron Bisman
Castleton's Pride - With 10 wins, 25 places and earning of $32,875
A Salute To Trotting with Ron Bisman

Castleton's Pride and No Response heaped honour and glory on themselves and all connected with them with Interdominion Grand Final wins, the former in Auckland in 1975 and the latter at Addington in 1979. Winslow (Mid Canterbury) farmer and trotting enthusiast Mawson McPherson paid 32 and a half guineas at a1957 Christchurch sale for Castleton's Pride's grand dam Highland Gift.

Then a seven-year-old and unraced, she was by Highland Kilt from Sir John McKenzie's imported American mare Esprit. Putting Highland Gift to Widower Scott (by the U. Scott horse Noble Scott, who was to become a leading sire in Australia), McPherson bred the colt who as Castleton's Gift won his mother Stella seven races and £4885. Sold to America he boosted his earnings to $53,254.

Also to Widower Scott, Highland Gift left Castleton's Queen. Frightened by a car when a weanling, this filly fell, struck her head and was unconscious for seven hours. She raced briefly, finishing third in Johnny Gee's 1965 New Zealand Trotting Stakes, but could not throw off the effects of her accident and soon went to stud. Castleton's Pride, by Tuft, was her first foal.

Racing for McPherson's wife Margaret from Kerrytown, South Canterbury, stable of J.J. (Jack) Brosnan, and driven by Brosnan's son Richard, Castleton's Pride had three wins, two seconds and a third as a three year old in a vintage crop that include Hocquard (Castleton's Pride victor in the Conference Handicap) and Black Millar (who beat him in the New Zealand Trotting Stakes)

Not over-impressive at four and five, Castleton Pride began measuring up to the good-class trotters at six. Roy McKenzie then bought Castleton's Pride six months before the Auckland Interdominions.

Charlie Hunter won with him at the 1974 New Zealand Cup carnival and then on opening nights of the Interdominions placed third and fourth after pace making.

At this stage an ailing leg was getting special ice-pack treatment from Hunter's offside Carl Brinsdon. With Hunter injured, the stable's second driver John Langdon was called on to pilot Castleton's Pride in the $20,900 Grand Final. Rating the six-year-old headily in front, Langdon got him home a comfortable winner as a forerunner to accomplishing an unprecedented double with Young Quinn in the Pacers' Grand Final the following week. It gave McKenzie a pair of Interdominion Trotting Grand Finals, Geffin having won it for him at Addington from the Hunter stable four years earlier.

Castleton's Pride's big win came at the expense of the favourite, Victiorian trotter Derby Royale, who three years later in Melbourne got his compensation winning the Grand Final at Moonee Valley and in doing so halting the 24 - race winner streak of Australian trotting sensation Maori's Idol.

Very unsound, Castleton's pride managed five wins at six and two at seven, his last victory coming in the 1975 Worthy Queen Handicap. He was fourth in Hall Good's Dominion Handicap, but soon after had to be turned out. Tried once more at eight in 1976/77, the closest he got in six starts was eighth.

With 10 wins, 25 places and earning of $32,875, Castleton's Pride was retired to Whakatane, where he served a valuable role for the Disabled Drivers' Association and was used to lead promotional street parades.

Fred black, after befriending trotting trainer Dave Hansen when working in the Manawatu district in the 1940s' was given by Hansen a Calumet Axworth mare, First Axworth, in foal to the good Quite Sure trotter Ripcord, to take with him when he moved to South Canterbury in the 1950s.

Imported to New Zealand in 1936 by Cecil Donald, Calumet Axworth, by the Peter The Great horse Peter Brewer from the Dillon Axworthy Mare Keta Dillon, sired a mere 19 winners in New Zealand. These included good trotters Calumella and Fire Water. First Axworth's dam Native star traced to Muriel Madison, a mare brought to New Zealand from America by Robert McMillan in 1905 and who founded a useful winning family. Among its best winners were bonny Azure (17 wins), her son Country Antrim and the good Australian Pacer Youl Sea.

Ripcord won 11 races including an Ashburtion Cup and £8230 for Kaikoura trotting stalwart Heber Hewson. First Axworth's foal to him was Cordsworth, born in 1955, and who from 31 starts from three to eight years gained three wins and four placings. Before being put down with distemper in 1978, Cordsworth produced for Black 10 foals, and those to have raced to time of writing had all won - No Offence, Courtan, No Courting, No Response and No Illusion.

No Response was by the Noel Simpson importation Hodgen's Surprise. An Axworthy-line horse and half -brother to Welcome Advice's Sire Welcome Stranger, Hodgen's Surprise, despite limited opportunities, sired 60 winners in New Zealand and Australia and several more in the United Kingdom.

No Response did not race until age six. He tried hard to pace but Black wanted him as a trotter and took plenty of time in inducing him to do so. He won his first race at Orari, South Canterbury, in November 1977, and a week later won at Washdyke. Because of health problems, Black then handed No Response to Richard Brosnan to train and drive. The combination ‘clicked' and No Response next won at Forbury in January and February, then twice at Addington in March before, giving away time to start in the 1978 Rowe Cup, he came from well back for third.

Winning the Winter Handicap in August and Ordeal Cup in September of 1978, No Response next won five races on end in Auckland, including the Benson and Hedges Invitation Stakes in which he best arch-rival Scotch Tar. A mysterious ailment that distressed him an hour or so before the Worthy Queen Handicap kept No Response out of the New Zealand Cup carnival, but he resumed winning a treble at Auckland in December, including a national record 3:34.7 for 2700 metres from a stand.

No Response won at Washdyke in January 1979, and at the Addington Interdominions in March won his two heats in fine style. From 10 metres in the 2600 metre Grand Final he looked hopelessly placed when buried well back in the field coming to the home turn. But he produced one the finest finishing efforts seen by trotter on any track anywhere as he threaded his way through the field to win by two lengths going away from Australians Alby Logan and Silken.

A week later, in an epic duel in the New Zealand Trotting Championship, No Response beat Scotch Tar by a neck in a national record 3:21.9 for 2600 metres mobile. It was his 10th straight win, a record for a straight-out trotter in New Zealand.

Freshened, No Response journey to Auckland for the 1979 Rowe Cup. Affected by brittle feet and a deep-seated muscular ailment, he was fourth and fifth on the first two nights and returned home without contesting the Rowe. He was spelled having won 12 of 16 starts as a seven-year-old for record seasonal earnings of $67,175.

No Response was never again at his best. From six starts at eight he was second to Even Speed in the Worthy Queen, ninth in the Dominion and had minor placings at Ashburton and Washdyke.

At age nine No Response dead-heated with Game Way for third behind Scotch Tar and Spartan Prince in the Dominion Handicap, and after free-for-all wins at Addington and Washdyke was taken to Melourne for the Australia Trotting Championship with Fellow New Zealanders Stormy Morn, Pointer Hanover, Hano Direct and Kate's Return. Winning a heat, No Response beat all but the ultra-consistent Stormy Morn in the final.

While in Melbourne No Response was found to be anaemic. He was treated for this and back in New Zealand won the New Zealand Trotting Championship in April, then a Mobile 2200-metre race on opening night of the Rowe Cup carnival. Becoming awkwardly placed in the Rowe, he produced another power-house finish to win decisively in 4:18.2.

Tied up with osteo-arthritis, No Response failed to stand a further preparation and was retired with his record at 60 starts, 24 wins, 21 placing and $135,128.

A Salute to Trotting with Ron Bisman

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