First Group win for David and Sylvia Thompson

By Duane Ranger

David and Sylvia Thompson know all about breeding champions. Two of their three children have attained national sporting honours, while the third is heavily involved in breeding high quality standardbreds.

Dave Thompson and his Captain Crunch filly, Tickers Time

And now after nearly 40 years of harness racing breeding the Thompsons have nailed their first Group winner thanks to 2-year-old, Always Ticking’s three-quarter length victory at the Cheviot Harness Racing Club’s meeting at Addington Raceway last Sunday (April 2).

Always Ticking, an Always B Miki – Happy Ticker (Bettor’s Delight) filly, won race six – the Group Three $25,000 Cheviot Licencing Trust Memorial for the 2-year-old pacing fillies.

Always Ticking is trained by Brett Gray at Ryal Bush and was driven by Tim Williams. The Thompsons sold the talented filly to clients of Justin Le Lievre – R S Symon, Mrs S F Symon, soon after she qualified at Rangiora in late January.

“Justin also sold her older Tintin In America half-sister for us as well. Her name was American Eyretime and she has now won five races and I think the new owners have since had her served by Art Major.

“We have no regrets selling Always Ticking. We are delighted for the owners. We are just so happy to have bred our first Group winner.

“That was a huge run to sit parked and still win with something in reserve. This filly dates back (Great grand-daughter) to our mid 1983s foundation mare, Panda’s Dream,” Thompson said.

Thompson, who also trains his own team in North Canterbury, said he bought Panda’s Dream (Lumber Dream – Pandemonium – Scottish Hanover) on the advice of his brother, John.

“John was already involved in harness racing, and he had a lot of success. I think his best horse he had was Bad Luck (1973 Scotch Abbe – Fordelle – Forward, a 12-win gelding). He bred and trained him. He also had Armbro Tryax (1971 Armbro Del – Lucky Carlton – Lucky Tryax), who won five.

“John suggested I buy a mare to breed from, and I noticed Paul Davies had Panda’s Dream advertised for sale. I liked her bloodlines and I think I paid $2,000 for her,” Thompson said.

“I didn’t race her. I only wanted her for breeding purposes, so I put her to Silk Legacy three times from 1998 to 1990) before she finally got in foal to Future Hanover in 1991. Her last foal, the 1994 Cam’s Trickster mare, Eyre Time, was her only winner (One win from five starts).”

Thompson said Eyre Time was the grand-dam of Always Ticking.

Eyre Time left seven foals between 2000 and 2011 – the best of them being foal one, the 2000 Make A Deal gelding, The Timely Trader (formerly Timely Trader) who won 18 races and $115,365 in Australia.

Foal three – the 2003 Man Around Town mare, Fleeting Flirt, had good success in the United States pacing a 1:51.2 mile.

Eyre Time’s sixth foal, the 2009 Bettor’s Delight mare, Happy Ticker, is the dam of Always Ticking.

“Happy Ticker only raced three times and fifth at Forbury Park was her best, so we retired her after an injury in May 2013. We then put her to Changeover in 2015 and later that year Ticking Over was born.

“We actually sold him at the races. He went on to win five races and then American Eyretime was born the following year.”

Even though their next foal – Always Ticking – has only had three starts, she’s already destined to be the best horse that Thompson has bred.

“It’s a bit premature to say she’s the best after one win and two seconds from three starts, but the trainer likes her and the way she sat parked and won the other day hinted to me there’s more to come.

“Like I said earlier we are so excited for the owners and our breed,” Thompson said.

Happy Ticker has also a Captain crunch weanling filly, who was born on October 24, and the mare is currently in foal to Always B Miki.

“Her last three foals have all been fillies, so we might keep Tickers Time for breeding. She’s a lovely looking horse. Very beautiful, who looks a lot like her older sisters,” Thompson said.

The Thompsons are no strangers to owning good horses as well. Their best was the 22-win 2002 Live Or Die – Atomic Gold – Soky’s Atom  gelding Power Of Tara, who won 22 races and $747,248 between 2005 and 2012.

“I’ve always loved harness racing and that’s why I’m training them. My brother gave me good advice all those years ago to buy a mare and breed from her.

“I’m so pleased we did. It’s taken four generations, but we’ve finally bred a Group winner, and we are so chuffed about that,” Thompson said.

Thomson, who worked for Firestone and then Bridgestone Tyres for 28 years, has now been retired for 15 years. He has trained 58 winners, 126 place-getters, and banked $499,604 in purses since 1989.

His youngest son Shaun, who enjoys thoroughbred racing, works for Nevele R Stud, while siblings Anna and Luke have both tasted national honours in netball and Rugby Union.

Anna played 38 games for the Canterbury Tactics, and  In 2009, she was named as a member of the Silver Ferns squad. She was included in the FastNet Ferns the following year, and was called back into the Silver Ferns for 2011 as cover for injured vice-captain Temepara George.

Luke, who played 84 games for Canterbury between 2004 and 2006, was also a professional rugby player in Japan from 2006 to 2019, where he represented Japan on 67 occasions, scoring 45 points.