by Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk
The dominance of Bettor’s Delight up to and including 2020 has evoked memories of another super sire born exactly one hundred years ago.
In the season just gone by Bettor’s Delight’s progeny were a league above any other, and when he is crowned champion sire at next month’s Harness Racing awards it will be his ninth New Zealand premiership in a row.
The first sire to do nine straight was a horse that sounds more like a driver or trainer – Jack Potts. Born exactly one hundred years ago Jack Potts was the leading sire from 1937/8 to 1945/6 after a mixed racing career.
Foaled in 1920 the American-bred two-year-old was imported to this country by Alex Anderson of Christchurch. Plagued by leg injuries he won nine races including being placed twice in the New Zealand Cup. In the 1927 Auckland Cup he was narrowly beaten by dual New Zealand Cup winner Ahuriri.
As a sire he not only topped the list for nine years straight but was in the top three for 13 seasons. During the depression he stood at just seven pounds and many breeders were so hard up that they would pay the fee off a pound at a time as they could afford it.
Altogether he sired 271 individual winners (1212 races) and his daughters produced over 320 winners.
His list of winners include some impressive names, among them Inter-dominion champion Emulous (1948) and two-time New Zealand Cup winner Lucky Jack (1937 and 1939).
The stock of Jack Potts also won four New Zealand Derbies.
As a sire of broodmares Jack Potts was even more successful. Among the major winners his daughters produced were Tactician, the first two-minute racehorse outside North America who won 20 races including an Inter-Dominion in 1955. There was also 18-race winner Van Dieman, the winner of the 1951 New Zealand Cup for Cecil Devine. 1953 Auckland Cup winner Thelma Globe was another stand out with 17 victories and a world record over 1 ¼ miles (2000 metres).
In all the direct offspring of Jack Potts won more than 1200 races. He died in 1948 aged 28.
Another champion sire U Scott took over from Jack Potts and equalled the nine premierships but they were between 1946/7 and 1961/2, not consecutively. Other top stallions at the time were Dillon Hall, Hal Tryax and Light Brigade.
The great Vance Hanover was the champion sire for 10 years in a row, between 1987/8-1996/7. He was unraced (because of a cracked sesamoid) and the first son of world champion pacer and sire Albatross to be made available to New Zealand breeders. His progeny had 2106 wins from 1983 to 2001.
In contrast stock from the now 23-year-old Bettor’s Delight have produced nearly 3500 wins from more than 1200 NZ-bred winners in this country since 2007, including five of the last six New Zealand Cup winners (The Fixer, Lazarus, Adore Me, Arden Rooney) and other stars like Tiger Tara, Have Faith In Me and Chicago Bull.
Just like U Scott took over from Jack Potts, Bettor’s Delight took over from Christian Cullen. Many millionaires have been produced by the Bettor’s delight production line, with the prospect of many many more in the future.