007 – Jimmy Bond

007 – Jimmy Bond

Bruce Stewart

26th April 2020

A recent accident with horses at his Mataura property has unfortunately brought to an end the lengthy and successful career of popular Southland horseman Jimmy Bond.

“Its history now I’m afraid. It’s not very pleasant because you can’t put any weight on it,” eighty year old Bond said of the cracked hip he sustained when a horse pushed him to the ground two weeks ago.

Although Bond hasn’t held a trainers license since 2014, he’s held a stable hand license and has continued to help his son Lyndon who trains from the family property.

Jimmy Bond was born on the West Coast, the son of Jim and Vida Bond.

The family of three boys and two girls grew up in the small settlement of Blaketown where Jimmy attended primary school before heading to Greymouth High School.

“Mum used to like to have a bet on the gallops. As a family we always went to the race meetings on the West Coast like Omoto, Victoria Park, Kumara and Hokitika. When I was a boy I used to sell race books at some of the meetings.”

While attending the trots at Victoria Park, Jimmy showed an interest in horses and would help visiting trainers gear up.

“I got to help an old fella called Jack Slack. He only had a couple of horses, a trotter and a pacer. He invited me back to Christchurch with him to work in the school holidays. He lived just across the road from Addington Racecourse on Lincoln Road.”

A regular visitor to Slack’s stable in those days was Southland trainer Jack Walsh of Robin Dundee fame.

“Jack also offered me a job for the school holidays so I went south.”

When Bond was at Walsh’s he had a good trotter named Cabra (Dillon Hall) which won ten races. He also trained a mare called Lauder Lady (U Scott) which won nine races.

“She was owned by the Hamiltons in Central Otago. She was a very good mare. In fact she beat Dignus one day at Addington. Jack Litten had Dignus and he was a bloody good horse. Lauder Lady used to pull very hard and old Jack (Litten) yelled out to Jack (Walsh) ‘pull up Jack we’re finished.’ He thought he had another round to go. Jack (Walsh) was only a little light fella. He wouldn’t have weighed more than seven or eight stone. Lauder Lady never used to go away but she did this day and she killed them.”

Bond left school when he was sixteen and worked for twelve months in the parts department at Grey Motors.

Then he moved south again when Walsh offered him full time work before moving back to Greymouth, but he remained connected with the harness industry.

“I went over for the Easter Cup one year. Jack Smolenski was working for Cecil Devine at the time. There was a big smash in the Cup and Cecil got hurt. I knew Jack when he was down here at Peterson Lodge. Jack came chasing after me after the smash and wanted me to work for Devine because he was the only one there at the time. So I went there.”

At that time three times New Zealand Cup winner False Step was in the stable.

“Thunder was there as well but he was on his last legs. I was there for twelve months. I left on the day I was twenty one and worked for a builder for two years.”

He reconnected with Southland harness racing at the Queen’s Birthday races at Ashburton and accepted a job with Winton trainer Derek Dynes.

It was there that he was associated with the good pacing mare Deft, and champion three year old Tactile.

“She (Deft) was a big mare. Tactile was her half-brother and he was a small compact guy whereas she had a bit of scope about her. She was quite a rangy mare, she was pretty good. She ran second to Lordship in the Easter Cup.”

Deft provided Bond with his first win as a driver at Winton in December 1962.  She won by four lengths over a mile and 5 furlongs.

Deft finished her career with ten wins and gained notoriety later in life by being the dam of champion Noodlum which won twenty eight of his forty two starts, including fifteen in a row. Deft also left Olga Korbut which won eight races including the 1975 Sapling Stakes.

He also remembers Tactile well.

“As a two year he had two starts at the trials for Ken Balloch and got beaten by a horse called Bubbles – a filly that Clem Scott trained. Little did they know Tactile was about to find a new lease of life.

“Four or five days before the trial we were having barrier practice at Derek’s place. He had a wee track down by the river. There was a run of about 100 yards down to the wee track from the stables. Anyway we were having barrier practice just outside the stables with a horse Bryce Buchanan was driving called Porus (Fallacy – Aegean). They thought the world of him but he was a terrible rough going bugger. He wouldn’t line up this day, and I was on Tactile alongside the fence and Derek was leading Porus up to try to get him up to the barrier. Tactile was standing there quiet as a lamb. Porus pulled sideways and Derek let the bloody barrier go and it hit the fence with a hell of a roar. Tactile bolted. The cart hit the fence and tipped me out and he ran down to the little track down by the river.” Bond eventually caught Tactile no damage done. “After that he was a different horse and never looked like getting beaten.”

Bond also took Tactile to Australia.

“He went on the boat from Bluff and I was supposed to travel with him in an officer’s cabin. They decided at the last minute they couldn’t do without some official, so I had to fly over.”

Bond said when he arrived in Melbourne Tactile was suffering from seasickness.

“I never thought we‘d get him to the races. His first start was in Adelaide and we flew from Melbourne to Adelaide in a DC3. I had to put a bag over his head to get him on the plane. They just had a horse box strapped in the middle of the plane around mail and other goods. The pilot had a shotgun there and he said ‘If this horse plays up you’ll have to put him down.’ No way was that going to happen. I’d got some tranquiliser off the vet in Melbourne and I’d given it to him and he was as quiet as a lamb.”

The South Australian Derby was the first of the Australian Triple Crown and by that stage trainer Jim Dynes and driver Doody Townley had arrived.

Heats were run on the first night with the final seven days later.

“A horse called Minuteman won his heat well and should have won the final. He was a couple of lengths clear at the corner but he broke and ran off the bloody track and Tactile got through and won it.”

Tactile went on to win the New South Wales, Victorian, New Zealand and Great Northern Derbys.

“I only had one drive on Tactile at Balfour when he was in the big race. I was damn lucky to get a drive there.”

Another horse Bond drove successfully for Dynes was Garrison Hanover gelding Killadar. He won five races, two with Bond in the sulky.

Bond worked for Dynes for five years and while he was there he met Colleen Tait. He and Colleen married in 1969.

Bond was about to link up with yet another trainer called Jack.

“Jack Hughes rang me and wanted me to go up to Pukekohe and work for him. It only lasted three months. While I was there I was lucky enough to drive a horse called Gerrand. I won three race driving him.”

Gerrand won nine races for Hughes and training partner Len Bayer.

Bond had also taken a horse north from Southland called Airfare (Flying Song).

“He couldn’t gallop quick enough as a four year old to keep up with the horses down here (Southland). They all thought I was bloody stupid taking him all the way to Auckland.”

Bond got a job in a market garden in Pukekohe while continuing to train Airfare. Les Purdon allowed him to be based from his stables and because Jimmy didn’t have a training license at that stage, Airfare raced under the Purdon name.

“At his (Airfare’s) first start we ran fifth and probably should have won. Then I took him to Wellington for the three day meeting. I was unloading the float and a sharp bit of metal was sticking out. It gauged a hole in my hand so I had to find a new driver. Luckily I found Peter Wolfenden. I told Peter the horse was tough and not to be afraid of going at the six hundred. He won by twelve lengths. He came out on the second day and won again. On the third day Peter had a horse in the race so I drove Airfare and he ran fifth. We went back to Pukekohe and he kicked the box, and got a big leg and it took him a month to get him right. At his next start he ran second at Alexandra Park.

“The horse that beat him returned a positive, but we never got paid the stake. He won on the second night and Brian Meale bought him off us. We came back to Southland after that.”

On returning to Southland Colleen’s father Dave Tait and Davey Kerr found a suitable property for Jimmy and Colleen to purchase. It’s still home. Jimmy began his Southland training career in 1971.

“We worked on Davey Todd’s track for a couple of years.”

His first winner as a trainer was Phoebe Brigade at Winton in December 1971. The Light Brigade trotter previously trained by Les Purdon started off a thirty six yard handicap and trotted the two miles in 4-37.6.

Young Al (Young Charlies – Peteria) was the first good horse he trained. He was broken in by Gore trainer Les Stevenson.

“Les passed him onto me. He was at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in the walking race. I think he finished fourth or fifth.  I remember taking Young Al to Addington one day when he beat Al’s Holiday which was owned by Noel Simpson, trained by Jack Litten and was driven by Maurice Holmes. We reckoned we had a real victory that night.”

Young Al won by a length and a half and paid $17.30 to win.

Bond also planned to take Young Al to race in Auckland in the New Zealand Messenger in Auckland and he floated the gelding north in February 1974, accompanied by a three year old from Harry Cox’s stable Special Hanover.

“Young Al had run sixth on the first night and had won well on the second night and was one of the favourites on the third night (FFA).”

Because both Young Al and Special Hanover had had two hard runs in the first two days of the carnival, Bond decided to head to a beach near Wellington with Murray Bradford and Paddy Diack, the owner of Special Hanover.

“I took Young Al and he walked straight into the water up to his belly but Special Hanover wouldn’t go in. Old Paddy was trying to lead him so Murray came out and got him into the water by a couple of feet. A little wave came in and Special Hanover jumped it, knocked Murray over, and pushed him under the water, then took off out into Cook Strait. He was about a mile out and old Paddy was running up and down yelling out ‘come back boy’. We were lucky he turned round and came back in. We were going to have to get the Coastguard.”

On the final night of the Wellington Carnival at Hutt Park Young Al struck trouble early.

“A horse that drew on the inside of us ran up the track and took his legs from under him and put him down on the track. George Shand (Mighty Gay) who wasn’t supposed to be on the second row came over the top. George’s cart shaft went through the leg of Young Al. That was him finished. We had to bring him home.”

He did recover from the injury and he returned to racing the following season. He finished his New Zealand career winning at Ascot Park over a mile in 1-59.6.

“He was the first horse to go under two minutes at Ascot Park.”

He was owned by Jim and Murray Bradford and won six races for the combination and that started a relationship with the Bradford family that was to produce a string of winners for Bond.

The Bradford winners that followed included Cle Velle (6), Young Em (2), Ata Lord (6), Pebble (3), Crafty Kooba (10), Miss Patron (1), Sly Agent (2), Atal’s Fella (2), Steady Boy (3), Cram (2) and Minty (2).

Minty

Crafty Kooba was the best the family had produced. He was by Timely Knight out of the Sly Yankee mare Sly Dancer and was bred and raced by Murray.

He lined up for his first start at Gore in December 1983 as hot favourite, beating Sue McCoy by a half a neck with eight lengths back to the third horse. Twelve days later he was beaten by a long neck at Ascot Park by Sir Rival in the Kilkelly Brothers Futurity Stakes. Back on his home track at the Boxing Day meeting at Gore he won a heat of the Southern Supremacy Stakes. Five days later he won another heat of the series at Winton. He then ventured to Timaru, running third in the Timaru Challenge Stakes behind Freightman and Liquid Lightning before returning at Ascot Park to win the Group Three Southland Juvenile Stakes.

After running seventh in the Cross Stakes at Addington Crafty Kooba won his next two starts racing three and four year olds in the Festival Stakes at Gore and the Wyndham Stakes at Young Quinn Raceway. He returned to that track seven days later to win the inaugural Southern Supremacy Stakes beating Sir Rival by one and three quarter lengths. He paid $1 for a win and $1 for a place.

He was then taken to Auckland for a two race campaign running fourth behind King Alba, Roydon Glen and Kanturk on the first night

“It was just an ordinary run. We needed the run and we thought that would top him off for the Derby.”

In the $100,000 Group One Great Northern Derby won by Roydon Glen, Crafty Kooba finished eleventh.

“I said to Murray when we were up there that the horse wasn’t right. We’d won the Supremacy on a wet track. I reckon it took its toll. When he got home he was crook so it was a true representation of his worth that time.”

He finished his three year old season running eighth (off 20 metres) in the Group Three Tanqueray Stakes at Gore.

As a four year old he won three races from eight starts. His last start in New Zealand was a winning one in the Group Two Four Year Old Championship at Forbury Park and following that he was sold to America.

Crafty Kooba after his last win in New Zealand at Forbury Park

Crafty Kooba winning in America

A regular stream of winners followed as Bond mixed training with fulltime work at the Mataura Freezing Works where he worked for thirty five years.

“It was the only place you got paid. I was a legger on the chain but I’ve been every place at the works; had a go at everything. If you had horses you had to work somewhere because you have to feed the buggers.”

Another nice horse that Bond trained was Party Ahead gelding Timmitu.

“He won at Invercargill and Colleen nominated him for a heat of the Sires Stakes at Ashburton. He ran fourth behind Inky Lord and then he was sold to Australia. They bought him on the day.” He went on to win fourteen races in Australia.

Auchen Bay’s win in the 1981 Invercargill Cup was another favourite win for Jimmy. The chestnut gelding beat quality mare Sweet Jessica by a length in the two mile feature.

Jimmy Bond had a very long driving career but sadly it came to an end on the 22nd February 2014 at Wyndham.

“I drew two on the gate (Aye One) and I think there were three horses on the second row. Blair Orange (Rosie Lindenny) lost control of his horse at the start as the gate was just about to pull away, he broke and half pie came in. He had one of those metal carts on and I didn’t, and his cart went underneath me and lifted me straight up and tipped me out. The horse behind me came over the top of me.”

Bond was knocked unconscious and taken to Southland Hospital by Ambulance.

“I woke up at Woodlands.”

The accident broke ten bones and he sustained fractures to his ribs, collarbone, cheek, pelvis and a bruised lung. He was in hospital for six weeks and during that time Jimmy’s good friend Maurice Kerr came over from Gore to help work the horses.

In his long career Jimmy Bond won 168 races driving, and he trained 120 winners over forty two seasons.

His best winners were Crafty Kooba (10), Young Al (6), Cle Velle (6) and Ata Lord (5).

Over the years he’s been supported by wife Colleen who forged her own very successful career as an International Netball Umpire and his two children Lyndon and Dana.

Lyndon trains from Jimmy and Colleen’s property, and has taken over the famous brown colours with blue dots.

He’s making his own way in the training ranks with trotter Crusher Collins winning three races in the Bond colours this season. The mare is leased by members of the Bond family while Jimmy owns promising square gaiter Tweedledee.

So plenty to keep the senior statesman of the Bond Family busy in a well-deserved full retirement.