“Blame Uncle Dan!” – Templeton breeder, Grant Davis 

By Duane Ranger 


“Blame it on Uncle Dan. He lured me into harness racing when I was 18, and 45 years later I’ve had more than 60 winners – all thanks to him!” 

Those were the words of retired panel-beater, and Templeton breeder, Grant Davis, who notched up another victory with his old Halswell Rugby League Club team-mate of the late 1970s and early 1980s, Keith Corbett.

Grant and Sue with Jackalack Sue before Sundays race

The Canterbury duo bred and own, He’s A Jackalack, who proved too smart in race seven – the Blue September Invited Drivers Up To R50 Pace – at the Banks Peninsula Trotting Club’s meeting at Motukarara Raceway Sunday 24 September. 

.He’s a Jackalack, a He’s Watching – Jackalack Sue (Elsu) gelding, is trained by John (‘Coaster’) Howe at West Melton, and was driven by Blair Orange. 

The brown 4-year-old has now won three of his 17 starts, and placed in three others ($19,556) since making his debut at Rangiora on January 1, 2022. His two other wins came at Geraldine and Timaru on April 21 and May 28 respectively this year. 

“That was his first run back since June, so that was a brilliant training performance from Coaster. Blair also did a great job in the sulky.  He ran second at the Motukarara Workouts eight days earlier, and Coaster thinks he’s just the ‘bees knees’, so I don’t think the win wasn’t unexpected.  

“The trainer said he will most likely race him on the grass circuit now, and then he reckons will be a much better pacer next year,” Davis said. 

Davis had big praise for his long-time trainer, Howe, saying he placed his horses perfectly and always gave them time to be their best. He also steeped a lot of praise of his late Uncle, Dan Davis. 

Davis clan … Old Dan, Granddad and Grandma Davis, Grant’s dad Billy , Grant’s mum Eunice and Grant and brother Jack and sister Wendy

“He was a Templeton icon and local, who used to love having a drink down at the ‘Golden Mile’ in Templeton. and everyone loved him. He was a freezing worker, who loved his horses. He had a few better than average ones as well, but his greatest claim to fame has surely been getting me hooked into the sport. 

“I used to enjoy watching him with his horses, but the game wasn‘t foreign to me.  My great grandfather, Joe Green was a blacksmith in Rolleston and used to shoe all of Cecil Devine’s horses and Bill Doyle’s trotters, long before Lord Module and Sunseeker came along,” Davis said.

Great – grandfather, Blacksmith Jo Green

“I’ll never forget those days, especially the character of Uncle Dan, who if it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t be talking to you now,” he added. 

Davis said he got into the He’s A Jackalack family unexpectedly via his mate Corbett. 

“Keith was given a Make A Deal – Rosecroft (Noodlum) mare named Scara Brae (2001). She got kicked in her paddock and never raced but the breeders were hoping someone would take her before they put her down, and Keith did. 

“They said she had good bloodlines, and then before you know it, Keith had the mare transported to my place at Weedons, and we started breeding from her in 2006. She has left four fouls. The first, a brown Armbro Operative colt named Wal. He won one of his four starts, but the best foal that Scara Brae left was her last one – the 2011 Elsu mare, Jackalack Sue, who is the mother of He’s A Jackalack. 

“Jackalack Sue is the best horse that I have bred, and she’s turning out to be an equally good broodmare. She won eight races and also placed 10 times from less than 50 starts.” 

Jackalack’s last race was at Hororata on February 11, 2018. Then on November 25 that year He’s A Jackalack was born. 

“The mare has produced three really good-looking foals. He’s A Jackalack should win more races, and Coaster also likes the look of his 2-year-old Betterthancheddar young brother, A Better Jackalack. 

“This fella has had a couple of campaigns and has turned in and out a couple of times. He will probably come back into work around Christmas and then get gelded,” Davis said. 

The 63-year-old Cantabrian said the youngest of Jackalack Sue’s three foals is a Captain Crunch weanling filly (born November 3) named Jackalack. 

“She’s beautiful and is developing nicely. We are hoping she has the same speed as her siblings because she certainly has their looks,” Davis said. 

“I’m not 100 per cent certain yet, but I’ll probably book the mare into Vincent this time. I’ll also do the same with Maddison Bay,” he added. 

Maddison Bay is a 14-year-old The Big Dog – Glitz At The Ritz (Soky’s Atom) one-win (from three starts) mare, owned and bred by Davis. 

“Her first foal Maddisons Desire (by Real Desire) won five races and was served by Vincent earlier this year. 

“Her mother has also left a Sky Major weanling filly (born December 3). Yes that’s right, she had no foals between 2014 and 2021 because she missed six times to six different sires,” Davis said. 

Davis is married to Sue, and  has four children, four (soon to be six) grandchildren.  He started his panel beating apprenticeship at around the same time he was converted to harness racing. 

Davis is one of three sons to amateur trainer, Billy Davis (Gouty), who loved his horse racing with his wife Eunice. He said his Dad had ownership of Beat The Monarch and The Expatriot.  

One interesting side-bar is that Davis is a medal-winning ball-room dancer, who has strutted the ‘Military Two-Step’ and many other waltzes with his wife Sue, on past Friday nights. 

“I actually remember waltzing alongside the late Bob McArdle, of Bromac Lodge at the Shirley Working Mens’ Club when he was alive,” Davis said.