The history of the Hannon Memorial

For 85 years the Hannon Memorial has been a fixture on the racing calendar.

As well as being a key race in its right it is also plays a significant role in the build up race to the New Zealand Cup.

But what do we know of the Hannon and its origins?

The race is named in memory of one Michael Joseph Hannon, a dentist in Oamaru who went on to become the president of the Oamaru Trotting Club from 1921 to 1938.

His interest in the sport was sparked by one of his clients Jock Henderson. He was a successful trainer in North Otago at the time.

M J Hannon ended up buying the Henderson-trained Albert Cling after he won the 1918 New Brighton Derby. The horse went on to win the Free For All at Addington in 1921.

HRNZ records also show that among the horses that Hannon raced was Brentloc, who won six races in the late 1920s.

The Hannon Memorial is Otago's biggest harness race. Originally held on the grass track it is now held on the all weather and raced over 2600 metres. It's also changed dates over the years, from Labour Day to its current spot in September.

It was first raced in 1938 with some of its more notable winners being the likes of Soangetaha (1952), Johnny Globe (1951 and 54), Caduceus (1959), Robin Dundee (1965), Bonnie's Chance (1982), and Inky Lord (1989).

Only four horses have ever won back to back Hannon Memorials. They are Palestine (1976-77), Idolmite (1980-81), Iraklis (1997-98), and Franco Ledger (2012-13).

The fastest time (since it went to 2600m in 1976) is shared. The record of 3:13.4 was set by Cullen's Creek and Anthony Butt in 2010, then equalled by Spankem in 2019.

Last year's winner was this year's New Zealand Cup favourite, Akuta.

This year's race will be held on Sunday at 3.04pm.

To see the field click here

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