Despite being a Group One “bridesmaid” London Legend won races in all seven seasons he raced earning $456,124 in stakes.
“But if he was five lengths better than he was he would not have finished four times second in Group One races,” Cran said.
“He was a high speed horse but a bridesmaid in the big ones. The two mile (3200m) races didn’t suit him,” he said.
The In the Pocket gelding gave an early taste of his speed winning the G2 2002 International Cargo Express Rising Stars 3YO Championship at Addington in a 1:58.2 rate (1950m) in the hands of Mark Jones.
At four, he was sharp winning the $30,000 (Listed) Pelorus Trust 4YO Classic at Waterlea, Marlborough, in a 1:59 rate for the 2300m.
He then racked up three consecutive G1 seconds in $100,000 races at Auckland.
London Legend chased home Elsu in both the Taylor 4YO Mile at Auckland (won in 1:55) and the NZ Mesenger 4YO Championship, then was second again, this time behind Sly Flyin in the Friday Flash City Of Auckland FFA.
He was also nosed out in the G1 $100,000 Lindauer NZ Free-For-All at Addington on Show Day 2005 behind Howard Bromac, who rated 1:55.2 (2000m), with dual NZ Cup winner Just An Excuse third.
London Legend proved a great money-spinner for owners Jim and Susan Wakefield, also tasting success in Australia holding on narrowly to win the 2006 $A25,000 (Listed) Sky Channel FFA at Moonee Valley.
He was retired two weeks after winning his penultimate race as a 9YO in August 2008.
London Legend is now living out his days away from the racetrack as a leisure riding hack in North Canterbury.
LONDON LEGEND _ Career record: 101s-25w-27p, $456,124
SPARKS A FLYIN (Sands A Flyin-Belle Glade filly)
Sparks A Flyin, the 2001 NZ 3YO Pacing Filly Of The Year, had the distinction of winning in four countries (NZ, Aust, USA and Canada).
Now returned to NZ after taking a 1:52 mile mark in the United States, she is making her mark as a broodmare for Christchurch owners Jim and Susan Wakefield.
Her first foal is the capable Diomedes, the winner of 7 races from 24 3YO starts.
At three herself, Sparks A Flyin provided Cran with his first Australasian Breeders Crown victory in the 2001 3YO Fillies Final at Moonee Valley.
The regular drive of former champion junior and later World Driving Champion Mark Jones, Sparks A Flyin proved herself an adept front-runner.
Before taking out the Breeders Crown at the end of her 3YO season, she won both the G1 $100,000 G1 Nevele R Fillies 3YO Final at Addington and the $A75,000 New South Wales Oaks at Harold Park, Sydney.
Besides her big wins, she was also the runnerup in the Australian Oaks (behind Cherry Cheer), the Nevele R NZ Oaks (behind Shania Patron) and Southland Oaks (behind Shortys Girl), and 3rd in the Victoria Oaks.
She also took a 1:56.1 mile mark at Ashburton in NZ.
“She was very dominant as a 3YO but as a 4YO she couldn’t go with the free-for-all horses here,” Cran said.
The decision to send her to America for mile racing proved an astute move as she added another $364,655 to her lifetime earnings from 8 wins and 14 placings from 50 starts at four and five.
SPARKS A FLYIN _ Career record: 78s-21w-20p, $627,218
PREVIOUS FORMER KENTUCKIANA LODGE STARS . . .
CLASSY FILLY (In The Pocket-Smooth Ice filly)
Cran enjoyed dual big race 2YO fillies wins with Classy Filly and Fearless Freda in 1998.
The Soky’s Atom-Hilarious Helen filly held Fair Vamp and Stylish Sweetheart in a 1:59.1 rate for the 1700m.
Fearless Freda, raced by Brian West and Colleen Quinn, was retired to stud after two unplaced starts at three, winning two of only 8 race starts.
Classy Filly meanwhile went on to greater heights for Wellington breeder-owner Garth Williams and co-owner Lance Cottam.
She showed natural speed with a final 800m in 57.1s to win a Sires’ Stakes Fillies Heat at Addington in May.
She was too good again in the $63,000 2YO Sires’ Stakes Fillies Final at Addington a week later for Colin De Filippi who teamed up with her throughout her 2YO and early 3YO racing.
Classy Filly overcame a back row draw with a three wide cover over the final lap to sprint home for an emphatic win.
She also ran 3rd to Electric Kiwi and Solberge in the Caduceus Classic in June to be voted NZ 2YO Filly of the Year.
The In The Pocket filly was as classy at three, repeating in the $63,000 3YO Sires’ Stakes Fillies Final, this time in Auckland, in a 1:58.5 mile rate for the 1700m.
Diven by Ricky May in the 1998 Nevele R New Zealand Oaks, she outfinished OK Rock by half a head, returning a 2:01.3 mile rate for the 2600m.
A week later Classy Filly ran second to Solberge (owned and trained by Cran’s father Jim) in the $107,260 Hydroflow Fillies 3YO Series Final at Addington in a 1:57.9 rate for the 1950m.
Classy Filly also won a heat of the New South Wales Oaks at Harold Park and came off a 30m handicap to win the $23,850 Powell Transport 25th North Island Breeder Stakes when driven by Tony Herlihy.
She was retired to stud at the end of her 3YO season.
At stud, Classy Filly left five foals including smart pacers Classic Line (1:52.4) and Classic Flyer, before she died in December 2008.
CLASSY FILLY _ Career record: 23s-10w-9p, $200,890.
BETTOR’S STRIKE (Bettor’s Delight-Winter Rose gelding)
West Melton trainer Cran Dalgety retired former top Grand Circuit pacer Bettor’s Strike after finishing off the pace in a moderate free-for-all at Addington on Friday, November 19, 2012.
After moving up parked beginning the final lap, top driver Dexter Dunn reported the seven-year-old just couldn’t go with the others on the home turn.
“He just can’t go with them anymore. Its a shame. he’s been a good horse over the years,” Dexter said.
Bettor’s Strike, who hit the highlights in November-December 2009, never regained his full mojo after a near death experience on July 4, 2010.
The 7YO Bettor’s Delight-Winter Rose gelding was struck down by a severe bacterial stomach infection and although he recorded a placing from seven or eight starts in both subsequent seasons, couldn’t reproduce his former magic.
“He looks good and has trained good but he couldn’t put himself through the pain barrier at the end of his races anymore,” Cran said.
“In two of the three lead-up races before the NZ Cup, Mark (Jones, driver) said he should have won the race.”
“We tried everything with him.”
Cran even tried rejuvenating Bettor’s Strike by sending him in to Riccarton for a change of environment leading up to the NZ Cup, being ridden in work with the help of Peter and Dawn Williams, and Shane McCann.
Bettor’s Strike joined London Legend, another retired former big winner for owners Jim and Susan Wakefield, in retirement as a riding hack in North Canterbury.
At the height of his career, Bettor’s Strike was one of Australasia’s top Grand Circuit pacers in November-December 2009.
He was held up in the run home when a strong-finishing runnerup to Monkey King in the 2009 New Zealand Cup.
Bettor’s Strike, then hit the hightlights in Australia a month later.
He was delared first then had the result amended to a dead-heat in the $A60,000 Decron Cranbourne Cup.
Bettor’s Strike then won the $A400,000 Victoria Cup (capitalising on a dream trip by Dexter to outfinish Smoken Up and Blacks A Fake) in a then record 1:55.7 mile rate for the 2240m, and also took out the $A125,000 Tasmania Cup, also in track record time, rating 2:00.4 for the stand start 2579m, in December 2009.
BETTOR’S STRIKE _ Career record: 77 starts, 16 wins, 26 placings, $890,201, in stakes.
DESPERATE COMMENT (Soky’s Atom-Tabella Bindy gelding)
Cran admits he was lucky to be entrusted with Desperate Comment.
The Soky’s Atom gelding was on the verge of being an open class performer when he arrived at Kentuckiana Lodge. He had been broken-in by Denice Swain and took some making as a racing proposition, eventually being good enough to race for Robert Cameron as a late 4YO.
Winning twice from two appearances at four, Desperate Comment clicked into gear at five, winning another three in the spring for Cameron.
Desperate Comment was on the move north after the 1993 NZ Cup meeting, winning two from seven starts for Clevedon trainers Roy and Barry Purdon.
Upon Desperate Comment’s return to Canterbury, Cran was asked to train the burgeoning open class pacer and was up for the challenge.
At only his 3rd start in the Kentuckiana Lodge colours, Desperate Comment (with Jimmy Curtin as catch-driver) beat Grand Circuit stars Master Musician and Blossom Lady in the G1 $65,000 Easter Cup at Addington.
From there, the former $8500 yearling was a force in the Australasian Grand Circuit scene for the next three years.
Desperate Comment had a great affinity with top driver Peter Jones. They proved an unstoppable combination when things went their way.
Out of luck in the 1994 NZ Cup and Free-For-All, Desperate Comment was a pacing powerhouse in a second round 1995 Addington Interdominion Heat.
He won his mobile 2600m heat from Blossom Lady in a brilliant NZ record 3:08.5 (1:56.6 mile rate).
Desperate Comment then ran a promoted 3rd behind Golden Reign and Chokin in the $400,000 Grand Final _ one of the best fields ever assembled for a final.
Again not at his best for the 1995 NZ Cup meeting, he redeemed himself with a second to Burlington Bertie in the $250,000 Auckland Cup in December 1995.
Desperate Comment then won back-to-back Victoria Cups at Moonee Valley, Melbourne, in Feb 1996-97.
“He had an amazing will to win,” Cran said.
“He had a lot of good controllable arrogance. He was never a lamb, but I guess thats what made him so good.”
Desperate Comment also won a heat of the 1996 West Australian Interdominions (finishing 6th to Young Mister Charles in the Grand Final).
He also notched wins in a Queensland Pacing Championship and a Australian Pacing Championship later that year.
After winning his second Victoria Cup for Cran (this time with Graeme Lang in the bike, Desperate Comment remained with Lang.
He won two heats of the 1997 Adelaide Inters and ran 5th in Our Sir Vancelot’s Grand Final at Globe Derby.
Desperate Comment won again at Moonee Valley in April 1997 then after two runs at Moonee Valley in August (for a win and a 3rd) he fractured a rear pastern.
“The fractured leg just disintergrated at a later date and he had to be put down,” Cran said.
“When you look back, it was a good effort for him to just crack the million in stakes when he did all his racing as an older horse.”
Desperate Comment had 54 starts for Cran winning 17 times.
He will always hold a special place as the horse who first showcased Cran as a Grand Circuit trainer in Australia.
After Desperate Comment’s demise, his owners Joe Mullins, Graham Pilkington and Alan Campbell, flew the horse’s ashes back to finally rest at Kentuckiana Lodge.
They have a fitting headstone to memorialise where his ashes are buried in the garden adjacent to the stable complex.
DESPERATE COMMENT _ Career record: 76s-28w-19p, $1,033,065
LAUD (Andrel-Karara Lass gelding)
Addington Raceway, July 17, 1992, was significant in both the lives of Cran Dalgety and the late Derek Jones.
Cran marked the occasion in style by offering the drive on race debutante Laud to the legendary Jones in the Starship 2YO Pace.
Laud became Cran’s first training win and provided Derek with his last driving win at Addington.
Derek Jones landed career driving win 816 with Laud. He extended his career total to 817 with one final win at his last night of racedriving at Cambridge on July 31, 1992.
From only 5 more racetrack appearances all before Christmas, Laud did enough to earn 3YO Pacer of the Year honours.
After returning in September to win a Sires’ Heat at Invercargill, then run second at Addington, Laud held Montana Vance in the G2 $30,000 Rising Stars 3YO Championship at Addington.
Laud then credited Cran with his first Group One victory with a heady front-running drive by Peter Jones in the $175,000 ANZ Bank Sires’ Stakes 3YO Final on NZ Cup day, 1992.
“He was very advanced and above his age for his ability,” Cran said.
“He was so big and powerful he didn’t know how good he was. He was like a big Jonah Lomu, so heavy and strong.”
However, his size ultimately led to the problem that curtailed his race career.
After chasing Camberley Octane home in a fast 1:59.1 rate (mobile 2600m) on Show day, 1992, Laud was sidelined with a suspensory problem.
His short but illustrious race career was over in less than 5 months for owners Larry and Alan Helleur.
Despite attempts to return him to racing Laud would not stand another preparation.
Laud has spent his days in retirement as a station hack for Jim Geddes.
LAUD Career record: 6s-4w-2p, $140,375