• Loddon Herald

It started with a star

SUMMER HOLIDAY READING

GRAND Voyage was already the talk of Australian trotting when he arrived in Boort on March 12 1921 for two races at the club’s first cup meeting.

He had notched up 16 career wins in Victoria and New South Wales.

The form meant he was handicapped way back in two races - 135 yards in the nine-furlong Flying Handicap and an even more challenging 280 yards in the big cup race of the distance of a mile and a half.

The champion trotter won the two races in one day by six lengths with Paddy Glasheen in the sulky.

The Grand Voyage story starts more than a century ago at Huntly and Mandurang on the outskirts of Bendigo, home then to important pioneering trotting stud farms.

In 1908, George Greaves,

licensee of the Albion Hotel in View Street, Bendigo, established Belmont Stud Farm at Mandurang, 10km to the south-east side of Bendigo.

When the wealthy Tye brothers, owners of the Allen-dale Stock Farm at Mentone disposed of stock in 1911, Greaves was quick to buy the stallion First Voyage (1908, by Bon Voyage USA from Elsie Downs USA) for 235 guineas.

Greaves also purchased three broodmares imported from the US including Blonde Grattan (1901, Grattan – Blonde Beauty). Blonde Grattan was a stud gem. Her first 10 foals all won races.

In 1913, Blonde Grattan dropped a black colt foal to First Voyage. It was subsequently named Bonnie Voyage. Less than two years later, George Greaves disposed of the entire Belmont operation.

The Belmont Stud business was acquired by Bendigo businessman, P.H. (Harry) Busst and functioned as a breeding and racing stable.

In May 1914, Busst took as his manager and trainer the outstanding horseman Paddy Glasheen, formerly of Buckrabanyule. Glasheen had trained horses and stood stallions for service on the family farm. He had been a committeeman of the Boort Club since 1912, and was a regular competitor in district and metropolitan races, including three at the Richmond track with the Almont mare Allie B.

The partners relocated the stud from Mandurang to Huntly on the other side of Bendigo, just off the Echuca Road, on the flats of the Bendigo Creek.

 The 1916 colt foal by First Voyage from Blonde Grattan was named Bonnie Voyage, later changed to Grand Voyage as there was a NSW horse of the same name racing.

Grand Voyage’s reputation preceded him to the racetrack. and when he was produced at the Richmond Racecourse in Bridge Rd, Melbourne, in 1916 for the Futurity Stakes of 500 sovereigns, the main Victorian classic for two-year-old trotters, all of his opposition had pulled out of the race except one rival. which He beat it at 20-1 on in the first heat and again disposed of it easily in the second heat, in which there was no betting.

The potential of Grand Voyage was quickly recognised by the handicapper who saw to it that the black champion won no race easily. After his Futurity win, Grand Voyage was spelled and did a light season of stud duty at Huntly.

In January 1917, the three-year-old trotter won from 60 yards behind against older horses at the Richmond track in a time barely slower than the Richmond Cup run the same day.  He then raced and won at Ballarat. In January 1918, he won at Rochester and later that year won three

races at Richmond.

As a rising five-year-old in 1919, Grand Voyage defeated the hoppled pacers for the first time, subsequently a common sight. He won at Boort, Charlton and Kyneton.

Then in June 1919 he won twice on the same day at Epping (Harold Park), Sydney, each time setting a new record.

At the Royal Agricultural Show, at the Melbourne Showgrounds he set a mile record of 2:16.3/5 after a tremendous battle from even marks with the very good pacer Sarilla, winner of 23 races at Richmond. In 1921, back in Sydney, Grand Voyage reduced the winning record at Epping to 2:13.0.

After the stunning runs at Boort a century ago, Glasheen and Grand Voyage headed to New Zealand.

His victory in the 1922 Otahuhu Cup, over two miles at Alexandra Park in Auckland worth 1000 Sovereigns (today worth about $80,000) against the best New Zealand pacers from 48 yards in a race record 4:31.3/5 was considered by Glasheen to be his most outstanding effort. 

Back from New Zealand, he won races including the original Bendigo Cup in 1924.

For 10 years Glasheen drove the greatest trotter since Fritz to race in Australia. Grand Voyage won a total of 44 races.

He was a brilliant beginner capable of beating the best pacers of his era. Indeed, some experienced observers still rate him as the finest Australian trotter of all time, rating him at least equal to both Fritz and Maori’s Idol.

He later stood at stud where he left 35 winners and was the dam-sire of 24.

In 2010, Grand Voyage was inducted into the Victorian Harness Racing Hall of Fame.

Paddy Glasheen would later move to NSW. When he died in 1946, Glasheen was considered by many to be Australia’s leading trotting driver. Glasheen died suddenly at the home of his son at Young, NSW. Aged 75, he had a team of horses in training when he died.


- NOEL RIDGE






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