Logan Pointer: A breeding enigma

02:36 AM 05 Mar 2008 NZDT
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Spotlight on Breeding - Pedigree Profile (New Zealand)

Logan Pointer a breeding enigma…and the sire of Harold Logan...'the horse that time forgot' (in this series we are focusing on some of New Zealand's 'breed builders').

If one was to put together a Top 10 list of New Zealand’s Sires of the 20th Century - in order of appearance - the first certainty would be Rothschild, and the second would have to be Logan Pointer.

Rothschild, who died aged 32 in the Wellington Zoo, reined supreme at a time when records were scarcely kept, but it is almost certain he was leading sire by a street every year from about the turn of the century until 1916.

His first progeny appeared in 1897 and his last winner was Rothino in 1929.

Harold Dillon assumed his mantle for five consecutive seasons in 1917, but it was Logan Pointer who was to rewrite the record books in most respects.

And it was very much a case of what might have been, had it not been for the fateful day that Logan Pointer was kicked by a pony and had to be destroyed - at the age of 15 after just nine seasons at stud.

In the end, Logan Pointer was credited with 187 winners for a record 229,000 pounds in stakes, but this was achieved in about half the time at stud as Harold Dillon (182 winners) and subsequent Sires’ Premiership winners in Nelson Bingen (219), Wrack (173) and Rey de Oro (226).

Logan Pointer’s stakes tally was not bettered until Jack Potts came along and surpassed it in the 1940s.

His progeny first appeared in the 1918/19 season; with two crops racing he was fifth on the Premiership; and following season he was second and he was then leading sire for the next six straight seasons, and seven in total.

Logan Pointer made the sort of immediate impact that could be likened to In The Pocket today.

From one of his last crops came his crowning glory, Harold Logan, but that is another story for later.

Not much, apart from the bare essentials, was or has been documented about Logan Pointer, but there is no doubting he will always remain something of an enigma.

As a son of the sport’s first 2.00 pacer, Star Pointer, he was predominantly a non-Hambletonian horse and was therefore meant to fail rather than succeed.

Star Pointer descended in male line from the pure-bred pacers, or ‘sidewheelers’ as they were best known - the Tom Hals - and while Logan Pointer’s dam was a third generation daughter of George Wilkes, his grandam came about as a result of a mixture of other non-Hambletonian bloodlines, such as the Blue Bulls.

Star Pointer had terrific ability and was one of the best of his time, but was a notoriously unsound pacer who could be best described as a disaster at stud.

When it came to siring pacers, which were fast gaining popularity around the turn of the century, Star Pointer was completely overrun by descendants of Hambletonian and it would be a safe bet that the last non-Hambletonian male line sired winner was in the 1930s with Logan Pointer’s most successful siring sons - Jewel Pointer, Logan Fraser and Prince Pointer.

Logan Pointer was most certainly not typical of Star Pointer, producing mostly well conformed, good gaited and level headed pacers.

He was no doubt one of many fine illustrations of the genius that was the legendary Free Holmes for selecting individuals not only on bloodlines, but conformation and type.

Logan Pointer, bred in California, did not take a record and was not raced here - something that was against the norm for imports in those early days.

It is not known how many foals Logan Pointer produced at any point - one can assume as a Holmes import he received adequate books from the start - but what is known is that it wasn’t long before he was producing many of the best performers of the era.

Harold Logan aside, Logan Chief, Onyx, Jewel Pointer, Prince Pointer, Acron, Loganwood, Logan Park, Logan Lou, Cardinal Logan, Bonny Logan and the trotter Trampfast were all top horses for differing reasons and to varying degrees.

ogan Chief was a particularly tough customer whose stake earnings of 12,000 pounds was second only to Great Bingen until Harold Logan came along.

Noted horseman Jack Shaw rated Jewel Pointer, a little brown stallion, as the finest all-rounder he was associated with.

articularly intelligent and sound, he was just as good in harness or saddle, either way round and in any type of going.

Acron and Native Chief were real speedsters, but renowned for their moods - they were often either first or last.

Acron set a mile record of 2.03 3/5 in 1924 which stood for many years, while Native Chief was once timed to work a mile at Addington in 2.02.

The latter however had a vacuum instead of a brain and was retired just when he seemed set to ‘go to town.’

Onyx, second in a New Zealand Cup on a limited preparation - she was delicate and lightly-framed and could not stand much training - was the best mare of her day.

Prince Pointer was a handsome black stallion with a splendid disposition who became a good sire in Australia.

Trampfast, known as the ‘One-eyed Gunner’ after losing an eye at an early age, soon outclassed the best trotters of the time and then turned his attention to good class pacers with equally devastating results.

He was a big, heavy gelding with feet the size of frying pans and a heart to match.

Bonny Logan was a truly tough mare who won races from age two to 10, then left nine foals for eight winners.

Her non-winner was Broodmare of the Year, Bashful, dam of four Cup class pacers, while a winner was Coquette, dam of Adorian (NZ Cup) and top class juveniles in Forward and Morano.

Other particuarly notable daughters of Logan Pointer were Ayr and Belle Logan, who to Globe Derby produced the Inter-Dominion winners in Springfield Globe and Logan Derby respectively.

That cross was an interesting one as Globe Derby represented the fifth and most obscure male line to Hambletonian, through Strathmore, which still existed.

Needless to say Logan Pointer provided the impetus needed by many matrons and he figures in the foundations of a high proportion of our most recognisable families of today.

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owever, at that time, Logan Pointer’s greatest claim to fame was Harold Logan.

Ribbonwood, Author Dillon and Great Bingen were acknowledged as earlier champions, but none captured the imagination of the public quite like ‘the horse that time forgot’.

Born into obscurity in a yard behind the Springfield Hotel, which later commemorated the event with a plaque, Harold Logan was the first of only two registered foals from the ‘non-standardbred mare’ Ivy Cole, a daughter Ribbonwood’s son King Cole and whose grandam was a thoroughbred in Charity.

King Cole’s grandam was also a thoroughbred.

Harold Logan was first registered as a 4-year-old in 1926 as being...”15.1 hands. Black points; barbed wire scar on front of off fore leg, about nine inches in length; small white patch on inside off hind leg, just above hoof; a ring of white hairs just above level of eyes; lightly built; white patch on near side of body, and white patch under saddle of off side. Bred by J.J. ‘Jack’ Coffey, Springfield and owned by P. Brown, Kurow.”

He first appeared on a racetrack as a 5-year-old, winning easily under saddle at a Waimate District Hunt Club meeting for owner-trainer-rider, F.R. Legg.

Winless in four starts at six, Harold Logan was then purchased for 100 pounds by Miss E. Hinds and joined the stable of Dick Humphreys, who transformed him from a crock into a pacing machine.

In the winter of 1930, as a 7-year-old, Harold Logan took all before him in winning seven races, first sweeping the circuit on the west coast of the North Island and later winning at Addington and in Auckland in all sorts of going.

After four wins at eight, Harold Logan was being hailed a budding champion and Cup winner and that transpired the following season when he succeeded in his first attempt at the New Zealand Cup from 48 yards, where he paced a last half in a sensational 58 2/5 seconds.

He easily repeated the next year from 60 yards - 36 yards behind the next most handicapped horses - lowering the race record by over two seconds to 4.16 2/5 with a youthful Alan Holmes at the helm.

Along the way Harold Logan was posting times that were simply unheard of and all sorts of records from long handicaps.

rior to his first Cup win, in the Midsummer Handicap at Addington in ‘31, Harold Logan was third from 84 yards to good sorts Regal Voyage (scr) and Lindbergh (24 yards) and was timed over the two miles in 4.13 2/5.

The record at that point was Peter Bingen’s 4.18 4/5 and Harold Logan was timed post to post in 4.11.

There seemed a period of eclipse for Harold Logan following his second Cup win at the age of 10 and his future seemed only in free-for-alls, but in the summer of 1934 the NZ Metropolitan TC invited four horses in Harold Logan, Red Shadow, Roi l’Or and Jewel Pointer to take on the freak Australian pacer Walla Walla in a series of match races.

Previous match races had mostly been between two horses - the most popular being between Wildwood and Prince Imperial, Ribbonwood and Fritz and Great Bingen and Native Chief - but fearful of a complete walkover by the famous Walla Walla, who had posted an astonishing Australasian mile record of 2.02 2/5 around the half-mile Harold Park track, the club invited the best New Zealand could offer.

Only rising star Indianapolis declined.

What transpired at the club’s Easter meeting was an epic contest before a record crowd of 22,000 and betting was up over 12,000 pounds on the previous year.

In the NZ Referee, ‘Ribbonwood’ reported...”The Showgrounds fence, and the back fence of the course, cattle trucks and carriages in the railway yard, the workshops roof, and roofs of private houses adjacent to the course, were all loaded with humanity.”

The then 12-year-old Walla Walla won the day, leading all the way and holding out Harold Logan by a neck with a gap of three lengths back to Red Shadow, pacing the mile from a stand in a record 2.04 1/5.

The crowd had literally gone mad when Harold Logan levelled at the furlong, but 50 yards off the post, Walla Walla found a bit extra and pulled away again.

By now trained by Miss Hinds and driven by Maurice Holmes, Harold Logan was to however have his revenge on the second day of meeting after Walla Walla had been trapped on the fence.

Something was amiss with Walla Walla though following the first invitational match, and in a further five contests - others being held in Auckland, Dunedin, Oamaru and Wellington - Harold Logan was the winner four times.

Harold Logan again had tongues wagging a few months later when he won the mile and a quarter Avon Handicap at Addington from 84 yards in another record of 2.36 3/5, while in the Cup that year he was third from 72 yards to Indianapolis (12 yards) and went 4.12 2/5, a record not lowered until Highland Fling came along 13 years later.

He won a special two mile free-for-all on the second day of the meeting and the NZ Free-For-All on the third, beating Roi l’Or with ease both times.

Just when age finally appeared to be catching up with Harold Logan as a 13-year-old, he bounced back the following season to finish fourth in the NZ Cup and win his third NZ Free-For-All from a stellar field which included three-time NZ Cup winner Indianapolis.

He had appropriately succeeded on the day which was his official and emotional farewell.

Harold Logan was brought back into work for another season as a 16-year-old, but after fourth placings in the NZ FFA and Gold Cup in Wellington were the best he could manage he finally had his last start in February, 1939.

What made Harold Logan a particular favourite of the public was his intelligence - he was little short of human.

Karl Scott, writing in his book Pillars of Harness Horsedom after many years as Ribbonwood, said...”Everybody loved this horse. His uncanny intelligence, unflinching courage, and perfect manners appealed to all. His terrific bursts of speed from rear positions round the best of fields always set the pulse doing overtime and brought thousands to their feet to do honour to the horse who proved time and time again that nothing was beyond him.

“And at the barrier! He would stand there, the whole field in front of him, and, ears pricked and not a move out of him, he would watch the starter, as keenly as any driver ever watched him. And I heard one of his drivers admit that on more than one occasion old Harold was into his stride and full speed ahead before even his pilot realised that the barriers had been released!”

LEADING SIRES OF THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY

Rothschild 1889 b h Childe Harold-Bay Briggs

Imp 1893 by W. Jarden. 306 winners. Leading sire approx 1900-1916.

Harold Dillon 1903 ch h Sydney Dillon-Guycara

Imp 1904 by Etienne Le Lievre. 182 winners. Leading sire 1917-1921.

Logan Pointer 1909 b h Star Pointer-Effie Logan

Imp 1915 by Free Holmes. 187 winners of 229,000 pounds. Leading sire 1922-1928 & 31

Nelson Bingen 1912 b h Bingen-Suzette Baron

mp 1914 by Etienne Le Lievre. 218 winners of 191,000 pounds. Leading sire 1929 & 30.

Wrack 1917 b h Peter The Great-The Colorado Belle

mp 1924 by Harry Nicoll. 173 winners of 220,000 pounds. Leading sire 1933, 34 & 35.

Rey de Oro 1917 ch h Copa de Oro-Surbito

Imp 1922 by Free Holmes. 226 winners of 218,000 pounds. Leading sire 1932, 36 & 37

Frank Marrion

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