Day At The Track

Former greats to be honoured at Melton

12:32 PM 28 Apr 2015 NZST
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bold david.jpg
Bold David

Another of harness racing’s past champions and great partnerships will be honoured at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night.

As part of a solid program, the world class venue will host the Bold David Free-For-All – named after the 1970 Inter Dominion.

While the former star will always be remembered for his victory in the industry’s pinnacle event, Bold David’s story goes beyond his racing feats.

A solid built pacer with a strong determination matched only by his heart, Bold David was the equine reflection of the man who took him to grand heights – the late Alf Simons.

Just to highlight the bond between man and beast, Simons drove Bold David to all of his 41 wins.

Simons was an old school horseman of the highest calibre, who made his mark on the sport at an early age.

Following his father Charles into the industry, Simons soon graduated from helping his dad around the family’s Wedderburn farm to lending a hand with the horses.

Gaining his licence at the tender age of 12, Simons was a natural at a time when pacers and trotters were ridden under saddle and driven from sulkies.

Making his debut soon after receiving his permit, Simons landed a double with his first two rides when he partnered Wimmera Shire and Mountain Child to victory at Maryborough in 1929.

It was four years later before Simons registered his initial win from the cart, although he had won numerous races from the saddle during the interim.

In fact, Simons completed 65 riding wins before he made the switch to the sulky.

Simons took little time to gain a reputation as a master of his craft, which saw him associated with numerous top performers.

Among those are Special Dollar, Suave Guy, Don’t Enquire, Royal King, Nancy Dalla, Dainty Flossie and Worthy Court.

Simons enjoyed the most success under saddle with Cooraminta and Sadie Voyage.

It was Nancy Dalla which provided Simons with his first metropolitan triumph in February 1949.

Looking to expand his operations, Simons made the move from the country to Rockbank during the 1950s, with the switch paying dividends.

Working a team of up to 30 by the ‘60s, Simons attracted offers from far and wide, often turning down prospects simply because his stable was at its limit.

Ironically, Simons initially turned down a request to train Bold David, but changed his mind in order to help a friend.

“I had a lot of horses at the time and didn’t want to take him,” Simons has been quoted as saying.

“Charlie (Priddeth, owner) was a very good man with young horses and a great friend of ours, so I agreed.

“I certainly never regretted accepting his offer.”

Unraced as a two-year-old, Bold David had 26 starts at three for 12 wins, four seconds and $5137 in stakes.

Winning four of his 17 starts, with eight placings also to his credit, as a four-year-old, Bold David had to overcome a career-threatening injury midway through the term.

Unplaced behind Mystic Robert at the Ascot Vale Showgrounds in January 1968, Bold David was subsequently found to have broken a venicular bone in his nearside front hoof, while the other hoof was also damaged during the run.

Taking a few starts to get back to his best upon his return, Bold David continued his strong surge through the grades, with his main wins including the 1969 Shepparton Cup.

Making the trip to Adelaide for the Inter Dominion just a month after Priddeth’s death,

Bold David finished second in his first and third round heats, while winning the second.

One of the favourites in the Final, Bold David was unplaced behind Richmond Lass.

It was as a six-year-old that Bold David sealed his greatness by etching his name onto the Inter Dominion honour roll.

Third behind Deep Court and Dainty’s Daughter in his first heat, Bold David then beat Peter Patrick and Dainty’s Daughter on the middle night.

Bold David finished fifth in the third round, but had done enough to qualify for the $40,000 Final.

Stepping away brilliantly from the tapes, Bold David was rated to perfection by Simons to beat Bylaw and Bon Adios.

Bold David became the first Victorian-bred, owned, trained and driven pacer to complete a hometown Inter Dominion win.

The following year the stayer raced 45 times for six wins, 15 placings and earnings of $12,127.

Mixing his form throughout the season, Bold David never defended his Inter Dominion title, which was held that year in Christchurch and was won by Stella Frost.

As an eight-year-old Bold David contested 36 races for five wins and 17 placings for stakes of $20,837, with his main triumphs including the Lady Brooks Cup – his third win in the feature.

Bold David competed in the 1972 Albion Park Inter Dominion, where he was aiming to become just the second dual winner of the prestigious event.

Captain Sandy, which won in 1950 and 1953, was the only dual winner up to that point.

In his opening heat, Bold David was third behind Monara and Hard To Get after beginning from 12 yards.

The veteran then finished second in the next two rounds before a sixth behind Welcome Advice in the Final.

Bold David was restricted to two starts as a nine-year-old after breaking a cannon bone during a race at Kilmore.

Simons, who was sidelined by injury resulting from a race fall, didn’t drive Bold David during his last start, with Peter Ward taking the reins.

Hampered by his injured arm being in a sling, Simons organised a makeshift splint of bark from a nearby tree for Bold David’s leg and took him home to decide whether his old mate needed to be put down.

Bold David was taken to Simons’ stables where a veterinary surgeon placed the leg in plaster and was able to spare his life.

Bold David contested 189 races for 41 wins, 41 seconds, 30 thirds and $97,303 in prizemoney.

Despite the loss of his stable star, Simons continued to prepare a string of handy competitors during the ensuring years, with his own driving career eventually coming to an end in 1982.

Although he tried to appeal the inevitable, Simons was a victim of the compulsory retirement rule.

Simons’ final success as a reinsman was behind Basil Bells at Stawell on July 13, 1982, just four days short of his 65th birthday. Simons died in July 1995.

  • PAUL COURTS

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