Gillespie breed still winning 60 years on

By Duane Ranger

Geraldine horseman Doug Gillespie said he was proud to be the only New Zealander still breeding and winning from the family of his father’s 1959 foundation mare, Countess Ada.

Doug Gillespie congratulating John Morrison

That two-win daughter of Stormyway  and Ada Scott (U Scott) was purchased by ‘Snow’ Gillespie in 1965.

Fast forward almost 60 years and six generations later, the family has produced another winner – this time on the Motukarara grass at the Banks Peninsula Trotting Club’s meeting on Easter Monday.

The Gillespie trained and John Morrison driven Gliding High proved too good in race three – the Julia and Stevie Golding Maiden Pace.

Gillespie owns and bred the 4-year-old Highview Tommy – Gliding Charm (McArdle) gelding with his son Locky. It was Gliding High’s first win in seven starts since making his debut at Addington Raceway last July. He has also placed twice on his home track – Phar Lap Raceway.

“Dad bought the mare (Ada Countess) off her trainer and driver Peter Gallagher – Paul Gallagher’s father. Then in 1966 Dad bred his first foal out of her – a Whipster colt named Spark Whip. Dad started it all and here I am all these decades later still breeding from my mares.

Gliding to victory at Motukarara – Gliding High
(c) Ajay Berry

“In fact, Gliding Charm has a lovely Sky Major weanling at foot. She was born in late September. The mare is also in foal to Capt Midnight (Captaintreacherous – It Was Fascination),” Gillespie said.

“I really enjoy breeding them, and watching them develop into racehorses. I’m very proud that I’m the one in New Zealand to be still breeding from Dad’s original family,” he added.

Gillespie said he actually bought back into the breed at the 2003 Yearling Sales in Christchurch.

“I paid about $16,000 for Genuine Franco (Live Or Die – Gifted Franco – Nero’s B B). She was bred by Spreydon Lodge and in human terms Genuine Franco would be Countess Ada’s great-grand-daughter.

“I won two races (plus five placings from 11 starts) with Genuine Franco, and then put her to McArdle in 2008 and Gliding Charm was the result.

Sadly, the mare wasn’t a prolific breeder and only left one other foal. That being the Elsu mare, Scarlet Falcon (2012), who won two of her 11 starts and went 1:56.6.”

Gillespie said Scarlet Falcon had now left four foals and she has a Bettor’s Wish weanling filly at foot. She was served in December by Lazarus.

“Her first foal, The Wolf (2017 Rock N Roll Heaven gelding) has won seven races in Australia ($56,741) and has a 1:53.6 mile to his name,” Gillespie said.

Asked who Gillespie thought the best of the breed was, he replied:

“Gliding Princess (1979 Transport Chip – Countess Ada – Stormyway mare). She  “She won three races as a 2-year-old and placed in the 1982 Welcome Stakes. Dad sold her in 1982 aged two for $75,000 to Western Australian trainer Ross Olivieri. That was a big amount of money back then (today’s inflation $233,000),” Gillespie said.

“She went on to win the Australian Oaks and Derby and then after she was resold for $125,000 she was found dead in her box. Very sad, but definitely the best… so far,” Gillespie said.

So how does Monday’s Motukarara winner stack up with some of the best from his family?

“Gliding High is a nice pacer with plenty of time to prove himself because he’s only had seven starts. He’s one of two horses I’ve got in work, and have a lot to thank John (Morrison) for.

“Not only did he drive the gelding well, but he worked the oracle with him at his Ashburton stable when, about six months ago, I was looking for new ideas to get him going.

“I don’t know what John did for that month, but he turned the horse around. John is a quality horseman, and I’ll always be grateful for his abilities as both a trainer and a driver,” Gillespie said.

Gliding High’s two older siblings are the 2014 Auckland Reactor mare, Gliding Past (no wins from nine starts) and the 2016 Betterthancheddar gelding, Gliding Away, who won two of his 18 starts and placed in six others before he was exported to Australia in November 2021.

Gliding Away has since won nine of his 44 Australian starts ($124,446), including a nice victory at Tabcorp Park Menangle on March 24.

As for Gillespie, he has been married to Joanne for 30 years. He has four children – Locky, Gillian, Lauren, and Lyndon, as well as seven grand-children and two great-grand kids.

Gillespie has had several jobs over the years, including being a Timaru Taxi driver for 30 years, and a standardbred trainer since the 1970s (about 50 wins).

He’s also been a bus driver, apprentice grocer, sack factory worker, dry cleaner, fibrous plasterer, scrap metal dealer, freezing worker, truck and big machine driver, and a fish and chip shop owner, twice.