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Oh The Memories from The Taupiri Wonder.

Recall his great battle with Oranmore mid winter at Avondale with 18lengths back to Battle Fury..and winning Ellerslie reeling in Marenostro carrying 65.5kg (after apprentice claim from 67kg).And of course Railway carrying 59kg from outside barrier for the late Bob Skelton..


Yes,would love to see those races again called by Syd Tonks.

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Shifnal Chief won at his second start in the Wellesley Stakes at Trentham on 14/10/72. His last win was the Epsom Handicap at Ellerslie on 6/10/79. In between he won races like the 1974 Arawa Stakes at Rotorua. The 1974 Founders Plate at Avondale.The 1975 Railway at Ellerslie. The 1975 and 1976 Captain Cook Stakes at Trentham and the 1976 Winter Cup at Riccarton.

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Other wins by Shifnal Chief included the Cambridge Breeder's Stakes at Te Rapa on 22/9/73. 1ZH Guineas Trial at Te Aroha 29/9/73. King George Memorial at Ellerslie 3/6/74. Ellerslie 7000 Handicap 27/7/74. Broadway Handicap Ellerslie 14/8/74. Admiralty Handicap Ellerslie 24/8/74.Hurricane Handicap Avondale 25/4/75. Smoke Ring Stakes Rotorua 24/5/75.

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Thanks Gubes..

I flew to Rotorua Arawa Stakes Day,& Trentham once for Capt Cook.Also wagged school for first time to see him race/win midweek @ Ellerslie.(think Harrisand v Kauere Lad was another highlight that day)..

Shifnal Chief did me proud many years later.Named a Greyhound after him that won his 6 of 7 first starts.

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On 12/13/2016 at 8:25 AM, henry30 said:

Shifnal Chief

Henry30 I posted this back in May which you may well enjoy reading:


The Sprinters. Speed To Burn by John Costello from DB Racing Annual 1975-76.

Think of crack sprinters and you usually think of Ellerslie's Railway Handicap or Trentham's Telegraph. Flying fast track speedsters, streaking over 1200m in less than 1:10, breaking 1:23 for 1400m.

Certainly two of the 1975-76 season's outstanding sprint performances fell into this category - Blue Blood's phenomenal 1:07.5 in the 1200m Telegraph Handicap and Mop's 1:22.1 in the 1400m Thibenzole Sprint at Te Rapa.

Yet to me, the most remarkable sprint race of the season was a 1200m event run at Avondale for the modest stake of $4000 and a time of 1:17.5, just ten seconds slower the Blue Blood recorded in the Telegraph. That race was the rather inappropriately named Long Handicap at the Avondale July meeting and the two fine sprinters who lifted from mediocrity to high drama were Oranmore and Shifnal Chief. 

Oranmore, a nuggety little speedster who loved to go to the front and run his rivals into the ground; Shifnal Chief, one of our very best sprinter-milers of the last decade, inclined to get back in 1200m scurries but able to turn on a blistering last 200m. Both of them at this stage were well up in the weights. And both, though ridden by apprentices to get some weight relief, were still conceding big weight advantages to their rivals.

The word "blistering" would be relative this July day. The track was too heavy to allow fast times. Under such conditions, a horse which can gallop through the deep footing at 13 to the furlong is going fast - and one which can run the last 200m in 12 is finishing brilliantly. 

Shifnal Chief's class, on top of the ground or in the heaviest going, had been well established before the 1975-76 season opened. He boasted a string of wins in the wet, a Railway Handicap under top weight and from an outside draw on a fast track. Oranmore had been a speedy two-year old in the 1974-75 season, his four wins including the ARC Welcome Stakes and the 75th Avondale Stakes. In the latter race he beat the highly regarded filly named Tudor Light. 

A three-year old Oranmore didn't waste much time showing that he could pit his speed and determination against the older sprinters and hold his own. By the time the Avondale winter meeting came around he had notched six metropolitan sprint wins, three at Avondale and the rest at Ellerslie. And he had shown, too that despite his lack of size he could carry weight. At the Auckland winter meeting he'd recorded two sprint sprint placings with Tony Williams riding him at his full book weight of 61.5 kg and 62kg.

In the President's Handicap on the opening day of the Avondale winter meeting Oranmore was weighted at 61.5kg. Owner-trainer Jim Doran put apprentice Ken Mathews up to get 2.5kgs off his back. Back even with 59 the chunky little speedster's task looked difficult. For among his rivals was that great sprinter Shifnal Chief, right back to peak form.

"The Chief" had resumed from a summer spell at Te Rapa in May and finished third behind Good Gift and Regal Tan under 62kg. Taupiri owner-trainers Ian and Jim Cameron realised that in his coming winter campaign their star would need to take advantage of apprentice allowances where he could, So, although the maximum top weight of 59kg at Rotorua on May 29 was already inviting enough, the Cameron's engaged Takanini apprentice Ray Mathers to take the mount. With his weight reduced to 56kg by the allowance Shifnal Chief looked a shot's eye, and he was. Mathers, having his first ride on "The Chief" and conscious that he could get more rides on the classy black if he acquitted himself well, had him well positioned all the way.

With Shifnal Chief, that's all you had to do. He did the rest, outfinishing his opposition comfortably. The Cameron's were happy with young mathers' showing and he had the mount again when Shifnal Chief lined up next, on the final day of the Auckland winter meeting. No maximum top weight here and in the the 1400m Visitors' Handicap. Shifnal Chief was handicapped at 63.5kg and even with Mathers aboard he still had to lump 60.5kg, the equivalent of 9.7 under the old scale.

From soon after the home turn it was a two horse race, Shifnal Chief and Cornelius, himself a grand wet-weather sprinter with 4.5kg lass than the topweight and the services of wily veteran Grenville Hughes opposed to the youthful and inexperienced Mathers.

But young Mathers did his part and Shifnal Chief, like the high-class horse he is, did his part and more. Nether horse giving an inch, both shifting ground a bit under the tremendous pressure, they slogged it out to the line. And Shifnal Chief was just too good, getting there by half a head. It was a measure of their superiority that the third horse, Regal Tan was seven lengths away.

An even more crushing display of superiority was still to come.

But first Shifnal Chief had to clash with Oranmore on the first day of the Avondale winter meeting.

This time "the Chief" had 65.5kg reduced by Mather's allowance to 62.5kg. He had to concede 3.5kg to the front running Oranmore and it seemed likely that he would have to concede him a fair start as well from the top of the straight. Though it is a big, roomy track with a long straight, Avondale seems to favour front runners. Whether or not the first part of the run home is slightly downhill, the leader on the turn often seems able to shoot to a handy break in the first 100m of the run home, and very often it is a winning break.

Oranmore, who hugs the rail like a mechanical hare, is well suited to such tactics and, having won already four races on the track, had proved himself well suited to Avondale. He sped straight to the front in the President's Handicap. Sabre Prince, who had looked on the way back to form and was himself something of an Avondale specialist, tried to keep the pressure on him making the top bend. But once they straightened Oranmore shrugged him off and shot to a commanding lead in no time. Meanwhile Shifnal Chief had got snookered on the rails well back in the field. By the time he got clear he was giving Oranmore an impossible start and he did well to grab second in the last 40 odd metres.

So the stage was set for another clash between Oranmore and Shifnal Chief in the Long Handicap on the second day. Both had risen further in the weights. Shifnal Chief was handicapped at 66kg and would carry 63kg with Mather's allowance; Oranmore handicapped at 64kg would drop to 61.5kg with Mathew's allowance.

At that level in the weights it hardly seemed a match race. Though the others were not in the same class they were receiving such big weight advantages, even with the weight allowances, that it seemed one might come up with a run good enough to overturn the topweights.

Just the same, a match race it was.  

The Cameron's, philosophical though they were about their first day defeat, had one instruction for Ray Mather; to have Shifnal Chief handier than he had been on the first day. For the rider of a horse like Oranmore there was no need for instructions, unless it was the classical old simplification: Go to the front and stay there.

So away went the field and away to the front, with that remarkable early acceleration of his, streaked Oranmore. Sabre Prince had even less chance of footing it with him this time; Shifnal Chief, as per instructions, was keeping handier in about third place but he was well astern of the flying pacemaker. And when Oranmore turned the corner and set sail for the judge, he widened his gap in dramatic fashion. From being two or three lengths clear of his nearest rival he was seven or eight lengths out in what seemed the space of barely fifty metres. The task of Shifnal Chief in closing that gap, though he was in the clear to challenge from the top of the straight, looked well nigh impossible. But horsemen don't use a very large vocabulary to their charges and evidently the Camerons had never taught Shifnal Chief the meaning of the word "impossible.'  


He set out to bridge the gap and, though Oranmore was still galloping freely in front, he gradually closed it stride by stride. Fifty metres out Shifnal Chief closed with Oranmore and it seemed he would storm past him. But then Oranmore showed his own brand of class. As "The Chief" came alongside he pulled out something extra and the two grand sprinters flashed across the line locked together. It was anybody's guess who had won.

I've become a rather better judge of the Avondale angle since the days when the camera gave the December Plate there to Gay Sovereign after I'd thought she finished a close third. I though Shifnal Chief had just got up and the camera confirmed it - Shifnal Chief by a nose.

If Oranmore had won the honours it would have been just as richly deserved and I've heard few horses get a warmer reception than those two when they returned to scale. The final measure of the quality of their performances, of their superiority over the rest came with the official margins - a nose between Shifnal Chief and Oranmore, an incredible eighteen lengths to the third horse Battle Fury.

Just a run of the mill sprint at Avondale, only a modest $4000 at stake. But what a memorable thriller that race was!  



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Thanks for that Rdytdy. We  have that Annual at home and over the years that article has been read to our chidren and grandchildren many times. 

Shifnal Chief died suddenly one night of an apparent heart attack without suffering at the grand old age of 30 and is buried here on the farm 

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