Mount Eden (September 7, 2007)
By the Noel Simpson importation Morris Eden (Adios – Tallulah Hanover, Billy Direct), Mount Eden traced through his unraced dam Blankets to the great foundation mare Norice.
Loaned Blankets by Allan Holmes for favours rendered when he was standing Morris Eden, Canterbury breeder Moss Andrews bred Mount Eden and let him go as a weanling for a mere $200 to Aucklander N. J. (Noel) Taylor.
When Mount Eden showed Taylor a preference to trot, Taylor losing interest in him, offered him at the 1968 Auckland Interdominion sale.
A weedy type, he was passed in cheaply, but West Australian farmer Jack Miles had liked him and commissioned Perth hotelier Bernie Ogden to purchase him privately.
Ogden bought the horse from Taylor for $600 and Mount Eden, after being reared on skim milk on Miles’s dairy farm, developed into a big, strong horse with an amazingly effortless stride.
By the time he reached Addington in February 1971, Mount Eden had won 13 races from 16 starts.
He won eight of his 11 starts at three, doing some fantastic things in races after bad beginnings, before a cracked pedal-bone sidelined him in March 1970. In his last three-year-old win, in the Sires’ Produce Stakes Final at Gloucester Park, he rated 2:04 for a mile and a half – a world record from a standing start – after badly muffing the start.
Put back into work at the end of September 1970, Mount Eden was unbeaten in five more starts before crossing the Tasman. His form was capped by his victory in the Christmas Handicap final at Gloucester Park on 9 January 1971.
After losing 80 yards at the start, then racing three and four wide before reaching the lead half a mile out, he was headed a bit further on, then came again to win by four yards in a state record mile rate of 2:05.5 for 14 furlongs. He was privately timed to pace his last mile and a half in 3:00.5.
On the Thursday before the opening heats of the Addington carnival Mount Eden worked solo at Addington for Miles in an amazing 1:58 1/5, his first half in 57 seconds.
Bad starting lapses cost Mount Eden a place in the Grand Final of this series, but it was at this time he showed himself to be probably the fastest pacer produced in Australasia.
On opening night he broke hopelessly, worked wide around the field in the final lap (when Miles and Denis Nyhan had an altercation) and in finishing eighth was timed in 1:57 for his last mile.
Miles was fined $50 for allegedly grabbing the sulky shaft of the Nyhan-driven Somerset Gold; Nyhan was relieved of the same amount for allegedly swiping at Miles’s hand with his whip.
At two miles on the second night Mount Eden lost 100 yards early, was in front half a mile out and was then worn down and beaten into second by Manaroa, who clock 4:10 3/5.
Bruising a knee, Miles arranged for John Noble to drive Mount Eden on the third night. Again the horse broke hopelessly early, this time losing three-quarters of a furlong.
In finishing sixth, though Noble did not persevere with him from the home turn, he was privately timed in 2:56 3/5 for his last mile and a half and 1:56 4/5 for his final mile.
Rather than race for a winning stake of $2600 in a consolation event on the final day, Miles and Odgen accepted an invitation for Mount Eden to go against the watch.
Theclub offered $2000 should he break two minutes and a further $1000 should he lower Cardigan Bay’s Australasian record $4850 should Mount Eden lower Bret Hanover’s 1:53 3/5 world record.
Because of rain Mount Eden’s attempt was postponed from midday until after the final event at around 5pm, to allow the track to dry. The loose top was graded off, but the surface was anything but fast.
Prompted by thoroughbred Maxwelton (whom Miles claimed was no use to him) Mount Eden covered his first quarter in 30 3/5, half in 59 4/5, six furlongs in 1:28 4/5 and mile in 1:56 3/5 – two fifths of a second outside Cardigan Bay’s Australasian record.
A fortnight later Mount Eden gave another amazing performance to win the Craven Miracle Mile in Sydney by 15 yards in 1:58.8 after losing at least 36 yards at the start.
On 19 March 1971, he shaved 0.6 seconds from Halwes’s Australian record with a 1:56.8 time trial at Gloucester Park, Mount Eden was sold through thebrothers’ International Bloodstock Agency to American doughnut tycoon William Rosenberg for $US268,000.
But before he could race in America Mount Eden sprung a tendon late in 1971 and was given a long lay-off and extensive treatment.
More than a year later Mount Eden, just about to resume racing, knocked himself in training, causing damage that with accompanying complications forced a decision to retire him to stand at a fee of $1000 at Rosenberg’s Wilrose Farm in New Hampshire.
Only moderately patronised in America, Mount Eden was subsequently returned to Western Australia.