Story: Horse and greyhound racing

Cardigan Bay

Cardigan Bay

This image of Cardigan Bay graces a biscuit tin, proof that he was truly a household name in New Zealand. In 1968 he became the world's first pacer to earn US$1 million. Initially trained and driven by his breeder, Dave Todd from Mataura, Southland, Cardigan Bay won his first prize money in a saddle trot. After three wins, he was sold for £2,500 to Aucklanders Merv and Audrey Dean. Under the care of Peter Wolfenden he began to show his true class, winning the 1962 and 1963 Auckland cups, the 1963 New Zealand Trotting Cup and the 1963 Inter Dominions. In 2012 he was still the only horse to win both these events in the same year – and this after a life-threatening injury on a trip to Perth for the 1962 Inter Dominions.

He was then taken to the United States under a racing agreement by famed reinsman Stanley Dancer, who paid US$100,000 for the eight-year-old. In America he gained superstar status, racing against the best competition. He was US Pacer of the Year in 1965 and 1968. When he retired, aged 12, with a record of 80 wins, 25 seconds and 22 thirds from 154 starts, he was given a gala farewell at New York's famous Yonkers Raceway. Back in New Zealand, Cardigan Bay lived for nearly 20 years at Sir Henry Kelliher's estate on Puketutu Island, near Auckland. In 1970 New Zealand Post issued a stamp featuring his portrait – the first time a racehorse had been so honoured.

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Private collection, Fran McGowan

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How to cite this page:

Mary Mountier, 'Horse and greyhound racing - Harness racing: late-20th-century trends', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/object/39025/cardigan-bay (accessed 23 May 2019)

Story by Mary Mountier, published 5 Sep 2013, updated 4 Nov 2015