Day At The Track

Hands Down's memorable 1980 NZ Cup win

10:01 PM 10 Nov 2008 NZDT
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The unforgettable Hands Down
The unforgettable Hands Down

In winning the 1980 New Zealand Cup, Hands Down returned to Prominence the family that produced the mighty Cardigan Bay. Christchurch breeder Harold Kay bought Cardigan Bay's grand-Dam Pleasure Bay (Quite Sure - Helen's Bay, Guy Parrish) cheaply in the late 1940s after she had produced Cardigan Bay's dam Colwyn Bay for Alex Jopp.

Kay bred Scotch Girls, Snow Jane and Toucher, all by U. Scott, from Pleasure Bay before selling her in the mid-1950s to Roydon Lodge Stud Ltd. Dorstan (by U. Scott) and Baylight (by Light Brigade) were bred from Pleasure Bay at Roydon Lodge, both being bought by Christchurch owner Stan Wheatley, for whom Baylight produced the 1972 New Zealand Cup winner Globe Bay.

Passed on in the late 1950s to Wellington Owner C.H. Boyton, pleasure Bay then left winners Morris and Lowry Bay as well as Primrose Bay and Hospitality, who became dams of winners.

Of the foals Kay bred from Pleasure Bay, Scotch Girls won four races, Toucher three and snow Jane was unraced. Scotch Girl and Snow Jane became excellent broodmares.

Snow Jane's first foal, slick (by the Gold Bar-Haughty Stallion Brahman) was raced on Lease from Kay by Omarama farmer Bill Mc Aughtrie. he won his first race in January 1960 with Jack Fraser jun. his trainer. When Fraser that year gave up training McAughtrie placed Slick Chick with Templeton trainer-driver Derek Jones. Under Jones, Slick Chick won six further traces, and when the gelding had to be prematurely retired with a heart ailment McAughtrie bought from Kay for $1000 a full-sister, Snowline.

After three wins as a three-year-old Snow line was injured badly in a fence and looked to be finished as a racing proposition. Sent to Fallacy, she produced a filly who as Snow Chick was to become the dam of Hands Down. Put back into work, Snowline shows she had plenty of form left and wound up with nine further wins including a 2:00 victory in the New Year Free-for-all at Addington as a seven-year-old in 1969.

Besides Slick Chick and snowline, Snow Jane left Snow Globe (10 wins trotting in New Zealand and more in North America) and the good Austalian performers Bay Johnny (18 wins including the 1976 Interdominion Trotters' Grand Final) and smart pacer Toliver Bay. Another if her daughters, Ski Girl (like Bay Johnny and Snow Globe by Johnny Globe(, became the dam of brilliant Australian-bred pacer Apres Ski (p, 1:56) and Summer Holiday, a good performer, bred in New Zealand.

On the night of 29 March 1979, when at the Greymounth Cup Meeting Snowline gained the last of her 12 wins, her daughter Snow Chlick made it a family affair by easily winning her maiden race for Mr and Mrs McAughtie and the stable of Derek Jones and his partner Jack Grant. Mother and daughter were soon after retired.

Put first to Lordship, Snow Chick left Colonial Chick , a winner in Austraila, A scottise Handover foal was dead at birth and then in 1985 Snow Chick produced Hands Down to the imported Tar Heel has Armbro Del.

A rogue early, Hands down finish settled sown will enough to gain his maiden win a ford-year-old at Washyke in December 1979. Derek's son Peter was the driver, as he was for almost all of Hands Down's Subsequent racing.

From his first win, Hands Down made a mercurial rise to stardom, and his 1980 New Zealand Cup victory came only 11 months later. He had won nine races before he turned five, one of them over 3200 metres at Invercargill in the hands of Roberts Cameron. Bolting away with the Louissiona and National Handicape of 1980, he failed at Forbury in October and was unplaced in the Kaikoura Cup after going off stride in a controversial incident in which Richard Brosnan, driven of the winner Sun Seeker, was questioned by stewards but exonerated.

Allowed to start 6-8 in order of betting for the New Zealand Cup, Hands Down after a slow start worked up to share the lead with just under a round of the 1200-metre Addington Raceway to travel. Peter Jones urged him past pacemaker Wee Win into a clear lead 600 metres out, but almost immediately Delightful Lady was up there to join issue with him. The pair sorted themselves out and Delightful Lady edged her head in front on rounding the home turn. Hands Down courageously fought back to wear the grand mare out of the major honour by a neck.

Hands Down clocked a race record 4:07.2, and while place times were no longer recognised Delightful lady's 4:06.1 from 15 metres was the fastest 3200-metre time recorded in New Zealand's harness racing history. Within a few days she would go even faster.

In the Denson and Hedges New Zealand Free-for-all on show Day, Hands Down came from the rear to win in 2:29.3 from Lord Module, Philippa Frost and Trevire after trotter Scotch Tar had led to the end of the first mile of the mobile 2000 metres in 1:57.4. Eight nights later Hands Down completed the carnival unbeaten by taking the Allan Matson Free-for-all (2600 Metres mobile) in 3:17.9 from Idolmite, Locarno and the dead-heaters for fourth, Lord Module and sun Seeker.

Knocked out of the Auckland Cup, Hands Down was taken to Hobart for the 1981 Interdominions, but did not adjust and raced disappointingly.

Back home Hands Down won the Lion Lager Stackes on 11 April and bolted away with the Easter Cup a week later. In his final start of the season he broke twice for no apparent reason ni the Varton Memorial at Forbury Park.

At six in 1981/82, Hands Down started as he had his previous campaign: with an unprecedented Louisson - National Handicaps double at Addington in August. For some unaccountable reason he trained off; and after he had finished last of 13 in the Laing Free-for-all a week after his National win, Derek Jones rested him. He reappeared with a fourth behind Idolmite, Royal Illusion and John Tudor in the Oamaru Hannon Memorial and then won the Kaikoura Cup from 25 metres in a national record for 2400 metres of 3:02.2 (timed post-to-post in 3:00.6).

While he pasted a grand race in 4:09.3 from the 10-metre mark in the New Zealand Cup, a distant third was his lot as Armalight stormed to her tearaway victory. Caught wide in the record-shattering free-for-all, he placed fifth; while again wide in the Matson he had to be content with fourth. Bonnie's Chance beat him in the New Brighton Cup and he was then eased to prepare for the Auckland Cup. Again he had to work hard after getting back early, and in finishing fourth again it was a case of him production a grand effort, but not good enough.

Derek Jones was Hands Down's pilot when the gelding clocked 1:56.3 in forcing Donnie's Chance to a 1:56.2 clocking in the Couplands Flying Mile at Washdyke on 27 February 1982. Hands Down then posted a national record winning the Steinlager Invitation Stakes at Addionton on 3 April from 10 metres in 2:31.8 for 2000 metres.

To cap the Campaign, he came from 25 metres to comfortably beat Bonnie's Chance (10 metres) in 4:14.1 over a slushy track in the Lion Brown Easter Cup. His Second victory in the race, it was the 21st of his career of 54 starts, 15 of those wins coming at Addington. His total earnings were $183,330. Hands Down gave Derek Jones his first New Zealand Cup success after Auckland Cup wins with Soangetaha (1951 and 1952) and Leading Light (1969). In partanership with Jack Grant, Derek topped the trainers' premiership with 37 wins in 1965'66 and with 38 wins in 1969/70. Grant worked for Jones for 22 years and was co-trainer from 1965 until 1973.

Peter Jones, aged 25 in his first New Zealand Cup Success, gained his first win driving Jondor, aged 25 in his first New Zealand Cup success, gained his first win driving Jondor Handover in the Second Bowhill Handicap at Addionton on 15 Septemeber 1973. he won the NAC Probationary reinsman (Frank Cooney's 25 in 1972/73) and finished second equal (with John Langdon) behind premiership winner Peter Woldfenden. He was remained consistently high on the national dirvers' list since, and there is no argument that he is in the top flight of New Zealand harness horsemen.

Ron BISMAN

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