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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.

Chapters from the stunning book A Salute To Trotting, written by the well-known New Zealand journalist Ron Bisman. Read the other chapters by clicking the Salute to Trotting with Ron Bisman link underneath this article.

While Nigel Craig was reigning as 'King' at Addington, Petite Evander occupied the Throne as 'Queen' at Alexandra Park. Like Nigel Craig, Petite Evander hit the peak of her form in 1976/77. In this term her 21 starts yielded 10 wins and seven minor placings, and with $1000 from the match race with Nigel Craig she earned a total of $35,500.

Nigel Craig wrote his name indelibly into New Zealand Trotting annals when in the 1976/77 season the unfashionable bred seven-year-old gelding among other distinctions became the first straight-out trotter in Australasia to return 2:00 or better. This was with a time trial at Addington on 17 Februbary 1977, when he stormed over the mile in 1:58.8.

Among top-flight trotters who delighted the fans through the 1970s were Easton Light, Nigel Craig, Petite Evander, Even Speed, Scotch Tar, Fremalda, No Response and Castleton's Pride. For four straight Seasons Easton light was New Zealand's top trotting stake-earner, the peak performance of his career coming 1974/75 when as a 10-year-old he joined the short list of dual winners of the Dominion Handicap.

Glamour Auckland Pacer at the turn of the 1970s into the 1980s was the bonny black mare on her rise to fame by winning at Claudelands in January 1977, the only victory of her first campaign as a three-year-old.

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.

Sapling, a year younger than Trusty Scot, was a son of Young Quinn's sire, the U. Scott horse Young Charles. Haakondahl, the dam of Sapling, was bred by Central Standardbred Agency directors Charlie Hunter and Brian Meale in 1966 as part of their Kenworth Stud operation that was allowed to wane in deference to their buying, selling, training and racing activities.

'Horse of the Year' for 1977/78, in which he carried off the New Zealand and Auckland Cups, Sole Command was a horseman's dream – a model of consistency. At his best as a stayer, he nevertheless measure up against swift milers in America, where he wound up pacing in 1:55 1/5.

Top three-year-old of 1975/76 and second to Stanley Rio among the four-year-olds of the following term, Bolton Byrd had his biggest moments at Alexandra Park, where he won the 1976 Great Northern Derby and Auckland Cup.

The 1976/77 season was the year on Stanley Rio, the Tasmanian-bred entire who in this term became the best-performed four-year-old in New Zealand harness racing annals by winning the New Zealand Cup, the Messenger and the Interdominion Grand Final.

Even more of an Auckland idol than Final Decision in the mid – 1970s was Captain Harcourt, striking looking palomino for 7 1/2 seasons. He was one of a big string of pacers raced with outstanding over all success from the early 1950s by Auckland businessman Ted Bennett.

Final Decision's rise to fame was a 'fairy-tale' that began at the August 1971 dispersal of Jim Donaldson's horses after that Tinwald owner-trainer had been killed in a car accident.

Lunar Chance put Southland in the spotlight again when he rose rapidly through the classes in the mid-1970s and highlighted his form with victory in the 1975 New Zealand Cup. In 1947 Nick Lawlor, for 60 years on a farm in Gore, was able to secure the then 22-year-old mare Winning Wave.

In 1976/77, three seasons after Noodlum had produced unparallelled two-year-old form, a rakey gelding named Testing Times put together an even more expansive and lucrative juvenile record.

Freeman Holmes jun. would doubtless have become a competitive horseman early in life but became involved in broadcasting when as an 11-year-old lad he was chosen from many applicants to read the junior news bulletin on the daily children's session in the early days of Christchurch’s 3ZB radio station.

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