Day At The Track
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As we closed off the coverage of this all-embracing treatise at the end of the 1981/82 season we noted harness racing in New Zealand to be - like many other facets of life in these times - facing some daunting obstacles.

Sold for $150 as riding hack after failing to show promise as a youngster, Stormy Morn gained a reprieve and began atoning for his early disgrace after being produced for racing as a late three-year-old by Belfast horseman Trevor Thomas.

Young trotters to show exceptional ability in the first couple of seasons of the 1980s were Jenner and Mister Square. In a Vintage crop of three-year-olds in 1980-81, Jenner had four wins and 13 placing from 21 starts for $15,735.

Following his outstanding and colourful form of the late 1970s, Scotch Tar continued his spectacular highs and lows in the early 1980. So well did he win twice at Addington in August 1980 and then the Ordeal Cup there the next month that owner-trainer slim Dykman - now his regular driver - announced he was interested in having a crack at the New Zealand Cup.

When Hilarious Guest had completed her two-and three-year-old campaigns at the end of the 1981-82 season, there was no need to look past her to find the best filly produced in New Zealand. On the score of juvenile form, Olga Korbut previously held the honours with her 15-5-6-1-1-$15,020 read-out for 1974-75. Hilarious Guest topped this with 13-7-1-0-1- $32,880. Both won the Sapling Stakes and Juvenile Championship; Olga Korbut in 3:15.5 and 2:53.1 and Hilarious Guest in 3:12.5 and 2:15.6.

Gammalite showed up in New Zealand in November 1981 with the New Zealand Cup his main mission. Flying in to Christchurch from Melbourne while the pre-Cup trials were in progress on the night of Thursday, 5 November, he boasted excellent credentials.

Armalight became big news as a three-year-old in 1979/80 when her 12 wins (including two under 2:00) and three seconds from 15 starts made her top earner of her age with $73,365. Her victories included three heats and the $21,250 final of the DB Flying Fillies' Stakes, the New Zealand Champion Stakes and the New Zealand and North Island Oaks.

Bonnie's chance, a daughter of Majestic Chance and the Aksarben mare Bonnie Countess, came to national prominence in 1980/81 as a 5-year-old from Richard Brosnan's Kerrytwon stable. Mrs Bonnie McGarry, of Timaru, and Mrs Karen Grice, of Invercargill, Paid $1000 for her dam, a daughter of Countess Ada, who also left top pacers including Gliding Princess.

In winning the 1980 New Zealand Cup, Hands Down returned to Prominence the family that produced the mighty Cardigan Bay. Christchurch breeder Harold Kay bought Cardigan Bay's grand-Dam Pleasure Bay (Quite Sure - Helen's Bay, Guy Parrish) cheaply in the late 1940s after she had produced Cardigan Bay's dam Colwyn Bay for Alex Jopp.

If Delightful Lady was something special at the end of the 1970s, she was supreme in 1980-81, the season in which she was an overwhelming choice for Harness Horse of the Year - winning by 35 votes to Hands Down's 7 and Scotch Tar's 1.

An exceptionally high standard of racing prevailed in the first two seasons of the 1980s, highlighted by several world-class performances by three great mares - Armalight, Delightful Lady and Bonnie's Chance.

In August 1980 the first full-scale harness racing operation in Asia was launched at the Portuguese-governed colony of Macau, some 60 kilometres south-east of Hong Kong on the South-east Asia coast. The brainchild of Wealthy Chinese businessman and Gambler Yip Hon, the Macau Trotting Club was formed on a private-enterprise basis by a consortium comprising Yip Hon and colleagues.

In 1980-81 a group of concerned trotting men tried to grapple with various problems facing the advancement of harness racing as an industry in New Zealand.

The effects of inflation and world-wide economic strife took heavy toll of the racing and trotting clubs of New Zealand in the first two seasons of the 1980s.

Castleton's Pride and No Response heaped honour and glory on themselves and all connected with them with Interdominion Grand Final wins, the former in Auckland in 1975 and the latter at Addington in 1979. Winslow (Mid Canterbury) farmer and trotting enthusiast Mawson McPherson paid 32 and a half guineas at a1957 Christchurch sale for Castleton's Pride's grand dam Highland Gift.

When former New Zealand representative cricketer Frank Mooney and his business partner Alex Daly, both of Wellington, won $24,000 each from an Addington jackpot in 1971, Daly decided to buy a trotter. For $1700 he bought from the Taylor family of Nelson a yearling filly by the imported Star's Pride horse Tuft (for several seasons New Zealand's leading sire of straight out trotters) from Dianthus Girl.

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