John McKenzie (left) looks on as grooms attend to the horses at Roydon Lodge, his stud farm near Christchurch. Australian-born McKenzie (later Sir John) moved to New Zealand in 1910, aged 34, and opened the first of what became the McKenzies chain stores. His interest in trotting began seriously in 1922 with the purchase of a well-bred and promising three-year-old. Named Acron, the horse won several major races, including two Derbys. Next came a yearling, Great Bingen, who proved an even better racehorse. He was the first southern-hemisphere horse to better 4.20 for 2 miles, and his earnings of over £14,000 were a record for 17 years. Great Bingen was the foundation stallion at Roydon Lodge (named after John's two sons, Roy and Don).
Roydon Lodge was established in 1928 and continues in the 2000s as a landmark standardbred stud farm, though it is no longer in the McKenzie family. Some of New Zealand's best stallions and broodmares were imported by John McKenzie – most notably U Scott and Light Brigade (leading sires respectively nine and four times). When John died in 1955, Roy followed in his father's footsteps, being knighted for philanthropy and heading Roydon Lodge (his older brother, Don, had been killed in the war). In recent years the stud has been home to Sundon, winner of 27 races and eight times Australasian champion trotting sire.
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Alexander Turnbull Library, Sir Roy Allan McKenzie Collection
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