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The history of the Hannon

By Tayler Strong

It is fitting that Ricky May has a drive in the 80th running of the Hannon Memorial at Oamaru on Sunday as he is the most successful reinsman in the history of the race with six wins.

May has the drive on Seel The Deal, one  of two pacers for trainers Greg and Nina Hope in the 2600m free-for-all from a standing start. The other is Usain Colt.

May has wins in the Hannon with Inky Lord (1989), Iraklis (1997 and 98), Panky’s Pacer (2002), Baileys Dream (2007) and Monkey King (2011). His father, Terry trained and drove Palestine to win the race in 1976 and 77.

Panky’s Pacer was trained by Robert Dunn, who won the race last year with Franco Nelson. Dunn has Alta Orlando engaged on Sunday.

Cran Dalgety (Art Union) is another trainer represented on Sunday who has previously won the race. He caused a boilover with Mighty Flying Mac, driven by Robbie Holmes two years ago.

The Hannon Memorial for the most tightly assessed pacers was first run in 1938 to honour M J Hannon, an Oamaru dentist, who was president of the club for 17 years from 1921 until his death in 1938. It was won by King’s Play, trained and driven by Maurice McTigue, of Methven.  McTigue was back to win in 1956 with 11yr-old  Tactician, the oldest horse to win a Hannon.

The race was then a handicap over a mile and a quarter (2000m) and run on the 1800m grass track, also used for thoroughbred racing. It was run late in October on the Monday of Labour weekend.

Parisienne (1940) and Caduceus (1959)  won the race from 36yd (33m) handicaps over the sprint distance.

The distance was changed to 2600m in 1976 and  the race became a free-for-all in 1981 which coincided with the switch to racing on the newly installed 1200m all-weather track.

Idolmite, owned and trained by Barney Tisdall and driven by Colin De Filippi won the handicap race in 1980 and the ffa the following year.

The other dual winners are Franco Ledger (2012,13), Iraklis, Blossom Lady (1990-93), Palestine and Johnny Globe (1951, 54).

Derek Jones, who trained Blossom Lady, also won the race with Soangetaha (1952), Lochgair (1966) and Diarac (1969), the last two when in partnership with Jack Grant.

Cullen’s Creek, trained by Tim Butt and driven by brother, Anthony, has the race and track record of 3.13.4 for 2600m. The Butt combination have also won the race with The Flyin Doctor (2006) and Mister DG  (2004).

The Hannon was the final lead up race to the New Zealand Trotting Cup for many years. Horses to win both races in the same year are Kym’s Girl (2001), Iraklis (1997), Bee Bee Cee (1994), Inky Lord (1989), Bonnie’s Chance (1982) and Johnny Globe (1954).

The race was switched to September in 1994 when the Labour Day date was allotted to the Ashburton Trotting Club. The Flying Stakes was transferred to that date.