Rondel and the 1979 Interdominions

04:18 AM 27 Jun 2008 NZST
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Courtesy Of Ron Bisman's Salute to Trotting

The artistry of Peter Wolfenden was never more evident than when in his hands 13 to 1 shot Rondel rose well above his general form and proved a giant-killer in the 1979 Benson and Hedges Interdominion Championship Grand Final at Addington.

A notable sidelight to this carnival was a printers' strike which forced the Metropolitan club to make do with give-away cyclostyled programme sheets for the third night and Grand Final day.

Rondel, a good stayer, was unplaced on opening night, won easily in 4:11 for 3200 metres on the second night and was fifth at 2000m on the third night.

In the Grand Final Wolfenden placed him sweetly in the trail behind pacemaking Sapling.

Noting with interest that Sapling drifted out racing through the front straight with a lap to go, Wolfenden waited for a similar opening in the run home.

It came and Wolfenden punched Rondel through the gap to beat Sapling by a length in 3:20.2 for the 2600 metres free-for-all from a stand. Sapling beat Miss Pert (Waratah - Tania Jane) by a length and a quarter for second, and good stayer Wee Win (Out To Win – Foaming Lass), unbeaten in the heats, was a half-neck away, fourth.

Rondel was yet another good product of the First Water family.

His grand-dam Rendezvous (Dillon Hall - Rocks Ahead) won two races and was acquired from Southland for breeding by New Zealand’s leading nursery Roydon Lodge. Rocks Ahead, who won 16 races, also left Navigate (11 wins pacing including Ollivier Handicap), Barrier Reef (13 wins trotting including Dominion Handicap), Master Mariner (three wins), Global Voyage (five), Pacific Pace (six) and Rocky Reef (three).

The early foals of Rendezvous were not impressive and she was sold in foal to Light Brigade to Jim Jones, founder of the Glenfern Stud at Bangholme, Victoria.

The foal was Light Rendez, who did not race but became the property of Bill Wise, of Carlton Stud, Picton, New South Wales. For him she produced several moderate winners before being tabbed as one of the culls for a Wise dispersal.

When Wise's resident sire became indisposed, the studmaster, wanting to offer his mares in foal at the sale, arranged for them to be served by the stallions at Noel Simpson's Karamea Stud near Sydney.

Light Rendez met up with Berra Hanover, by Tar Heel from Beryl Hanover, by Nibble Hanover, and a brother to Brenna Hanover, the dam of the mighty Bred Hanover.

Simpson subsequently bought Light Rendez from the Wise sale on behalf of Auckland breeder Sir Henry Kelliher, and her foal was born at Sir Henry's Puketutu Island.

Offered as a yearling at the 1972 Great Northern Sale, he was passed in and then bought privately by Mangere horseman Eddy Town for $700. Town's Avondale patrons Ron and Del Alderson agreed to race Rondel in partnership with the trainer, and, given plenty of time, the gelding began racing as a four-year-old.

Rondel won three of his first four starts, then after a lean patch the Aldersons bought Town's share and transferred the gelding to the Kumeu stable of Peter Young, a protege of Peter Wolfenden.

The Aldersons had their first trotting win with Ruabon from Wolfenden's stable in the early 1960s.

A little later they bought Good Way and Coulight and, with Wolfenden doing a stint in Australia, they became clients of Town and had Young do their driving.

Young set up training on his own account at Kumeu in 1976, and to give him a good start Alderson (proprietor of a furnace specialist company) placed Rondel and two other pacers, Del's Boy and Burly Bob, with him.

Soon after Young took him over as a five-year-old, Rondel won at Manawatu and then took the Stratford Cup.

Wolfenden began driving him in his six-year-old campaign and won four races, including the Franklin and Thames Cups, with him. Taken South, Rondel qualified for the New Zealand Cup by winning at Forbury Park in October, but he trained off and finished well back in the Cup.

Freshened for the Auckland Cup, Rondel was checked so badly in the skirmish 1500 metres from home that Wolfenden pulled him up.

Following his Interdominion triumph Rondel ran fourth in the Easter Cup at Addington in April and was turned out.

Badly checked and knocked right out of the 1979 New Zealand Cup, Rondel was sparsely raced after that with scant return. He nevertheless wound up with life earnings of $124,520.

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