Day At The Track

Ownership - Elizabeth McCormick

10:47 AM 12 May 2020 NZST
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Elizabeth McCormick,Harness racing
HRNZ photo

By Dave Di Somma - Harness News Desk

Elizabeth McCormick’s first experience of horse ownership in 1979 wasn’t good. It even put a major, albeit temporary, strain on her marriage!

Her husband David McCormick had just given her a half share in a horse he bred as a Christmas present. But just four days later he got an offer he couldn’t refuse and it was gone from their Mid Canterbury property.

“I was coming home from a nursing shift and saw this horse float down the road and thought nothing more about it.” says Elizabeth.

But she soon realised that the horse was gone, and her husband was to blame.

‘It was very quiet there for a bit,” she says.

Firewood had been sold for $6000.

Records show he went on to have two wins three seconds and four thirds in 78 starts, earning just over his purchase price.

The McCormicks have been part of the racing landscape for generations, and trotters have been their mainstay. David has driven and trained over 100 winners following on from his dad, the late Doug McCormick who held a license till he was 83. Many of their horses have had the “Perfect” or “Wood” moniker.

David and Elizabeth have three children, Jane (38), Graham (35) and Lawrence (33) – he was the “one who inherited the racing genes”.

At Forbury Park in 2009 all three generations - Doug, David and Lawrence McCormick – were in the same race, all driving horses trained by David McCormick. Lawrence won on Cathy Combo.

“Charlotte Wood was our foundation mare, “ says Elizabeth.

On the racetrack she won four from 65 and among her progeny was Queen Charlotte who won six from 92.

She in turn produced a number of good horses, including Glendaloch (Sundon-Queen Charlotte) who made nearly $60,000 and raced at the Harness Jewels at their home track (Ashburton) in 2011. He finished 10th, with Vulcan winning the four-year-old Ruby that year.

Though not bred by the McCormicks, Lets Get Serious was also out of Queen Charlotte. He won 40 races from 140 starts, earning over $800,000.

Elizabeth was around horses as a youngster but it wasn’t until she got married that her interest in the industry grew.

“We went to the races all the time, especially with a young family if you didn’t go with him (David) you got left behind.”

These days both have day jobs – Elizabeth is a nurse, and David is the area manager for the Mr Green lawn-mowing franchise - and they are very much hobby trainers and breeders.

They currently have three horses that will be good to go once racing resumes. They include two of their own trotters Sugar Cane ( 6 wins – 96 starts) and Dora Explorer (1 -28), and also Sungait’s Legacy, who they bought at the All Aged Sales in Christchurch last year.

And in case you are wondering about that very quiet Christmas four decades ago, yes David and Elizabeth McCormick are still together - the “Firewood” incident now part of McCormick family folklore.

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