Who is Maurice Holmes?

By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk 

This Friday's Maurice Holmes Vase at Addington marks the start of the Road to the New Zealand Cup on November 8.

The winner of the Group 3 feature gets automatic entry to the big race on Tuesday, November 8.

The Vase is just into its 11th year with two horses so far doing the double. They are Thefixer (2018) and Self Assured (2020).

There have been also only two multiple winners so far - Christen Me (2014 and 2015) and Classie Brigade (2019 and 2021).

Raced over 2600 metres, Christen Me's first win produced the fastest time so far of 3:11.5.

So who is Maurice Holmes?

Nicknamed "The Maestro", Maurice Holmes  was truly one of the sport's legends. He was one of eight children and born into a racing family, spearheaded by his father Freeman Holmes. Among Free's many achievements were the NZ Galloping Cup with Manton in 1888 and the 1919 New Zealand Trotting Cup with Trix Pointer.

Maurice Holmes' brothers Allan and Freeman (Junior) were both accomplished drivers in their own right, with the family tradition continuing on to the present day through Robbie Holmes.

“Morrie” Holmes was the first driver in this country to record 1000 wins and between 1925 and 1974 he totalled 1666 successes, taking out the drivers' premiership a staggering and still record 18 times between 1931 and 1974.

There were also 3 New Zealand Cups (Wrackler 1930, Chamfer 1950, and Lookaway 1957), two Auckland Cups and Inter-Dominions, and 12 New Zealand Derbys. He won his first Auckland Cup with Talaro in 1926 as a 17-year-old!

In 1974 he was 65 and was forced to retire from driving. He marked his farewell with four wins from eight drives at Alexandra Park. He continued to train into his eighties.

In 1975 he became an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE). He was also inducted into the Addington Hall of Fame in 2005.

He died on July 7 1998, aged 89, five days after the death of his wife Elsa.




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