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History of the Methven Trotting Club and Mt. Harding Racecourse

The first race meeting ever to be held at the course was on January 1 1907, so the course is into its second century of use. The race meeting featured trots, gallops and hurdle races but also included races for humans. There were running races for married men and single men, first prize being one pound ($2). As well, boys raced for a prize of 5 shillings (50c) and girls raced for a box of tea.

The Methven Racing Club ran galloping events annually during the first few years of the course's existence. The racecourse land was originally owned by the Holmes family, but parts were bought during the early 1920's off the family. However early records suggest the Galloping Club over-committed themselves and a meeting was held in 1927 to disband the club. As this meeting was about to close, a group of trotting enthusiasts (including members of the Galloping Committee) suggested their code could make a go of it and consequently the Methven Trotting Club was formed.

At the first meeting 280 horses were nominated for eight races and the bright future of the Club was set in motion. The inaugural Methven Trotting Club president was Sam Holmes, who did a ten year stint. Over the years the presidents have proved great stayers. Indeed over the first 28 years there were only seven presidents.

The Holmes era was followed by the Harrison era with Tom Harrison senior filling the 'hot seat' for 18 years. Nearing the end of his stint they doubled the race meetings to two a year. The Club continued to make giant strides under the leadership of Jack H McKendry, John O'Connell, Allan Smith, Alec Milne and Bill Thomas. Club stalwart George Kelly was president from 1969-1971, his involvement began  in 1950.  George always donned his white racing cap and shouted the tote girls at the end of the day.

The second generation of Harrison's almost dominated the 1970's with three sons of Tom Harrison senior holding the president's role -   Harry (1971-74), Dudley ('74-'76) and Tom junior ('78-80'). The latter's son Kelvin is a leading trainer in the United States. Tom Harrison  harbours fond memories of committee meetings which were to become very 'social'. The catalyst to lengthy after-match proceedings was the standing rule of any committeeman owning a winning horse was expected to shout a bottle of whiskey.

The Harrison era was split by Jack B McKendry junior who was president for the 50th anniversary meeting in 1977. Every President since has made invaluable contributions. They were as follows-Ron May, Maurice McTigue, Tom Lemon, Don Anderson, Martin Nordqvist, Barry Molloy, John Stackhouse, Vic Lamb,David Isherwood and Neville Goodwin. Current committeemen who have more recently served as president are Gavin Saunders, Neil Owen,Cliff Dynes, Kerry O'Reilly,John McDonald and Bruce Harper. With a hard-working volunteer committee and their families, the Methven Trotting Club will continue to prosper.


Property subdivision

Over the next decade , the town side of the track will see a residential subdivision and some will then enjoy a living room view of the day's harness racing proceedings.

In keeping with the equine aspect, the subdivision is named Equus Park.Street names in the subdivision will reflect the best Methven winning horses, based on results in major races. The first two stages will see sections in  Inky Lord Lane and Tactician Lane become available in 2020. Further on, NZ Trotting Cup winners in Morello,Loyal Nurse and Inter Dominion winner Fraggle Rock will have their names etched into this development.


The Methven Racing Club commenced meetings at the Mt. Harding Racecourse in 1915. Prior to this, picnic-style gatherings were held. The Trotting Club was formed in 1919 and the first non-betting meeting was held in 1920. October 1927 saw the first totalisator meeting with an eight race programme.

Currently, four Sunday meetings are held each year. The Club's calendar opens in spring, in the first week of September.

In 2010, the Club raced its September meeting the day after the historic 7.1 earthquake. Buildings were inspected, passed all clear  and the meeting proceded. It was a sombre affair  and there were stories aplenty,  but the racing took place  and the on course  turnover was  strong.

The Club's 2nd meeting of the year is the Methven Cup Meeting in early October.

In that same 2010 year, this meeting had descended, by the last race, into a snowstorm. The drivers all agreed to hold the race and that snowy blur, featuring race caller Mark McNamara at his best, was shown on television news clippages throughout the world!


In December each year  the Club's feature events are mile  races. Some smart times have been recorded. The Methven 4 Square Supermarket sponsor the pacers event and each race attracts a class field. Race record times are listed below.  


The final meeting of the season is held In late March where the feature race sees the 2yo trotters compete over the mile distance. To date, the winner of this race has earned enough stake money to then gain a start  in the Group 1 2yo Trotters Harness Jewels.


In March 2018 our 100 year old grandstand needed to be pulled down - it no longer met earthquake standards even though it had withstood all recent earthquakes without damage.

The committee will determine next steps for the area the grandstand once stood on.




The Methven Cup was granted Group 3 Status in 2009.

This race  is  recognised as a key lead in race for  the NZ Cup.


Notable Achievements

Arethusa is the only three year old to have won the Methven Cup. Away back in 1930 having won three races at two, including the Sapling Stakes , she made it four in a row when winning the Methven Cup. A very special three year old filly.

The race record over 3200m is held by Rapa Boy who scored in 4.13.5 in 1994.

Arapaho reputedly landed some hefty bets when winning in 1971. He went on to win the NZ Cup.  

Morello,1936, went on to win the NZ Trotting Cup in 1938.


In 2000 Miss Jo Herbert  became the first lady driver to win a Methven Cup with Chloe Hanover.

2006 NZ Trotting Cup winner Flashing Red started his winning run at Methven scoring at useful double figure odds, before repeating the dose three weeks later in the Ashburton Flying Stakes and then trumping it with a win in the NZ Cup. Flashing Red's time over the 3000m stand of 3.52.6 was the current race record over the 3000m distance  until lowered  by Supreme Gem to 3.52.3 when she  won the Hororata Cup in February 2014.


The 2014 edition of the Methven Cup saw some very good pacers line up.Franco Ledger lowered the track record to 3,51.8 when he fought off the previous year's winner Jimmy Johnstone. Then in 2015 Messini, driven by Natalie Rasmusson won fresh up and in doing so, lowered the time to 3.51.7.

In 2016 Smolda made it 5 wins in the last 7 years for trainer Mark Purdon partnered with Natalie Rasmusson. Smolda then trekked over to WA in December and won the Interdominion Grand Final at Gloucester Park.

In 2018 Natalie Rasmusson struck again with fresh up runner Cruz Bromac recording a race record time of 3.51.3. In 2019 Cruz Bromac won the NZ Cup.


1927   Colene Pointer 1928 Firelight   1929 Lady Cello  
1930   Arethusa 1931 Sonoma 1932 Tempest  
1933   Taxpayer 1934 Elvo   1935 Battlefield  
1936   Morello   1937 Play On   1938 Philario  
1939   Southern Chief 1940 Regal   1941 Happy Man  
1942   Not competed for 1943 Dianus   1944 Festivity  
1945   Lucky Loyal 1946 Gamble King 1947 Dillondale  
1948   Good Review 1949 Gantree   1950 Awadale  
1951   Burns Night 1952 Sydney Victor 1953 Merval  
1954   Rajah   1955 Mighty Fire 1956 Unite  
1957   Somerset Lad 1958 Honest Charles 1959 Fourth Edition  
1960   Responsive 1961 Aldora   1962 Oreti  
1963   Vanderford 1964 Highland Step 1965 Glenurquhart  
1966   Cuddle Doon 1967 Alpine Lady 1968 Stylos  
1969   Manaroa 1970 Hakim   1971 Arapaho  
1972   Blackbeard 1973 Yankee Clipper 1974 Armbro Brent  
1975   Rolon Waitaki 1976 Saucy Jack 1977 Rebeccas Pride  
1978   Jaunty Hanover 1979 Alec Peterson 1980 Our Location  
1981   Cyllarus   1982 Kata Hoiho 1983 Capri  
1984   Freightman 1985 Ruthless 1986 Chipaluck  
1987   That's That 1988 Viewfield Prince 1989 Montini Royal  
1990   Bardilino 1991 Unique Blue Chip 1992 Kirchdorf  
1993   Remotes Dream 1994 Rapa Boy 1995 Three Little Pigs  
1996   Anvil Vance 1997 Tyler Foulden 1998 Tact Halsey  
1999   Kotare Jaeger 2000 Chloe Hanover 2001 Eastwood Jaunty  
2002   Kirwins Reward 2003 Eastwood Jaunty 2004 Kiwi Kosby  
2005   Bob's Blue Boy 2006 Flashing Red 2007 Baileys Dream  
2008   Kipp Ross

2009 Corka Dream

2010 Ohoka Dallas

2011 Vi Et Animo

2012 Fly Like An Eagle

2013 Jimmy Johnstone

2014 Franco Ledger

2015 Messini

2016 Smolda  

2017 Titan Banner

2018 Cruz Bromac

2019 Chase Auckland



At our December Christmas meeting, mile racing is the feature.

In 2011 race records were created for both the pacers and the trotters in their respective events.

In the Methven Four Square Supermarket Green Mile, Ohoka Dallas driven by Grant Payne recorded 1.56.5

In the Trotters Green Mile, Clover Don driven by Colin De Filippi recorded 1.59.6

In 2012 in the trotters race Quality Invasion, trained by Bruce Graham and driven by Grant Archer led a merry dance and lowered the time to 1.58.6


In December 2017 a warm fine day with little breeze saw both mile times lowered.

In the pacing section A.G's White Socks smashed the record in recording 1.55 flat. Driver Ricky May believing he could have gone even faster if needed.

Two races later it was the same combination again in Ricky May and the training pair of Greg and Nina Hope who won with Everybody Knows in 1.58.4. This trotter came from 5 places back on the fence to record a meritorious victory.

Both times are believed to be world record mile times on a grass track - Methven are proud of this benchmark as our track condition is always paramount.

In 2018 A G's White Sox became the 1st pacer to win the Green Mile two years in a row.



Manaroa started his racing career at the 1968 Methven Cup meeting, winning the Harrison Stakes by 5 lengths and returning a $52 win dividend.This was the first of his 6 wins as a 3 year old. Manaroa commenced his 4 year old campaign in the same manner and in winning the 1969 Methven Cup by 10 lengths, extended his winning sequence to 5 in a row. Manaroa established an outstsanding race record by winning 18 races in New Zealand and a further 15 in Australia for his Mt Hutt Breeder, Owner, Trainer and sometimes driver,Mr Colin McLaughlin.


( With thanks to Martin Nordqvist)