Day At The Track

The historic WA Pacing Cup

08:38 AM 15 Jan 2019 NZDT
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This Friday night will witness the 106th consecutive running of the WA Pacing Cup since the race was first run on 27th December 1913 as the WA Trotting Cup.

Only the New Zealand Cup, which was first run in 1904, has a longer history in terms of races run for pacers anywhere in the world.

In fact a couple of trotters started in the WA Cup in the early days when it was a regular occurrence for trotters and pacers to compete against each other.

The race was run at Western Australian Cricket Association (WACA) ground track between 1913 and 1928 before moving across the road to the course now known as Gloucester Park where it was first run on 28th December 1929.

The 1929 edition of the Cup was won by the New Zealand bred gelding Taurekareka for trainer/driver Dave Michael.

The 2019 Tabtouch WA Pacing Cup will be the 90th running of the race at Australia’s premier harness racing track.

Tim and Anthony Butt looking to go one better in 2019

In the 2007 WA Pacing Cup the Tim Butt trained and Anthony Butt driven Flashing Red finished second to Tealsby Karalta and the duo will be looking to go one better this year with their Fremantle Cup winner My Field Marshal.

Flashing Red is one of only four New Zealand Cup winners to have started in a WA Pacing Cup.

Flashing Red won the 2006 and 2007 New Zealand Cup and started in the WA Cup in those same years.

Steel Jaw won the New Zealand Cup in 1983 before finishing sixth behind Preux Chevalier in the 1984 WA Cup while Trusty Scot won the 1978 New Zealand Cup before he finished sixth to Pure Steel in the 1979 WA Cup.

The first New Zealand Cup winner to contest a WA Cup was the Australian bred Sheik which stunned the Kiwis when he took out the 1924 edition of their flagship race.

Sheik finished fifth in the 1929 WA Cup won by Taurekareka and while he didn’t win the Cup he did win three races in Perth before retiring to stud in WA where he sired the mare Queens Gift which took out the 1942 WA Cup.

Only two winners of a WA Cup have managed to sire a winner of the WA Cup.

The New Zealand bred Bintravis won the race in 1949 and then sired the dual WA Cup winner Radiant Oro which took out the race in 1969 and 1971.

The 1938 WA Cup winner Kolect sired the 1941 WA Cup winner Kolrock during a break from his racing career which began in 1932 and ended in 1940.

Kolect not only sired a WA Pacing Cup winner but he is the only WA Cup winner produced by a mare which won the Cup.

WA Racing Industry Hall of Fame inductee Kola Girl won the 1918 WA Cup and her first foal was Kolect. Kolect was a son of Vin Direct which competed against Kola Girl in the 1925 Australasian Championship at the WACA ground.

Vin Direct not only sired a WA Cup winner but he also sired the dam of WA Racing Industry Hall of Fame inductee Beau Don which won the Cup in successive seasons 1952/53 and 1953/54.

Maczaffair out to break long drought

Still looking for room in the home straight of last Friday’s Fremantle Cup, the connections of the 5yo Mach Three mare Maczaffair will be hoping the additional 400 metres of the 2019 WA Pacing Cup will see a few more openings appear in the last lap this week.

Maczaffair has a 47 year hoodoo to overcome as the last mare to win a WA Pacing Cup was Pyramus on 1st January 1972 which incidentally was the last year the race was run as a standing start.

Pyramus was the 19th mare to win the State’s major harness race and she was part of a cluster of three wins by mares in six years as she followed the efforts of Color Glo (1967) and Daintys Daughter (1970).

After mares won 12 of the first 22 runnings of the Cup (1913 – 1935) there have only been seven mares win the race in the past 82 years.

First family of the WA Pacing Cup

When Fred Thomas started the Huon Jnr gelding Wally M in the first WA Pacing Cup in 1913 he began what was to become a remarkable family record in the State’s major harness race.

Fred and Francis Thomas had eight children, three boys and five girls who grew up surrounded by horses as their father was both a trainer of Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds.

Fred trained the 1911 Railway Stakes winner Apple Charlotte and in 1920 he trained a WA Pacing Cup winner in Harold Rose.

Six of the eight Thomas children either rode or drove winners on the track:

  • Pearl Thomas (b 1899) – won a Lady Riders race at the WACA and later married Athol Robertson who was a prominent trainer/driver and later a WATA Committeeman
  • Charles Thomas (b 1900) – highly successful trainer/driver with 260 winners in Perth including four WA Pacing Cups
  • Ruby Thomas (b 1903) - won a Lady Riders race at the WACA and later married Gordon Bradford who drove some 33 winners in WA
  • Hilda Thomas (b 1905) – outstanding driver of winners at the WACA and an even better equestrienne who won events at the Royal Sydney Show and Perth Royal Show. She married trainer/driver Charles Coulson and their son Phil Coulson drove more than 1100 winners including an Inter Dominion with Binshaw and seven WA Pacing Cups
  • Lella Thomas (b 1908) – didn’t win a race but married Arthur Hough and their son Fred Hough drove 512 winners and trained and drove the champion Frosty Nelson
  • John Thomas (b 1911) – drove some 106 winners including a Fremantle Cup
  • Ivy Thomas (b 1913) - won a Lady Riders race at the WACA
  • Don Thomas (by 1919) – drove 165 winners including a WA Pacing Cup winner in Buller Pass and he later became WATA Chairman of Stewards and officiated at three Inter Dominions between 1962 and 1974.

All up the Thomas family trained a total of 22 starters in a WA Pacing Cup for eight winners in Harold Rose (1920 Fred Thomas), Frosty Nelson (1955 Fred Hough), Buller Pass (1959 Don Thomas), Hycraft (1965 Phil Coulson), Lord Mina (1966 Phil Coulson), Color Glo (1967 Phil Coulson), Pure Steel (1977 Phil Coulson) and Pure Steel (1978 Phil Coulson).

Members of the Thomas family had a total of 61 drives in a WA Pacing Cup for a truly remarkable 13 wins comprising Harold Rose (1920 Charlie Thomas), Black Childe (1924 Charlie Thomas), Connie Glo (1935 Charlie Thomas), Lulu Mick (1938 Charlie Thomas), Frosty Nelson (1955 Fred Hough), Buller Pass (1959 Don Thomas), Lord Mina (1966 Phil Coulson), Color Glo (1967 Phil Coulson), Pure Steel (1977 Phil Coulson), Pure Steel (1978 Phil Coulson), Pure Steel (1979 Phil Coulson), Gammalite (1983 Phil Coulson) and Village Kid (1985 Phil Coulson).

 

Alan Parker

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