On Thursday 8th July 2021 Forbury Park will host the Forbury Park Trotting Club's harness racing meeting for the final time. Since 1909 the Dunedin venue has been providing exciting racing with the reputation of having a fast sand-based racing surface - and with the installation of lights in 1960 to enable night racing it has also had a reputation for 'some bitterly cold nights' of racing.
When Arden Lodge proprietors John and Judy Stiven attended the meeting on 24th June 2021 the temperature was pleasantly mild for a winter meeting and typically the atmosphere warm and welcoming. They sponsored the last race on the programme, the Arden Lodge/Prydes Easifeed Mobile Pace over 2200m for Non- winners 2YO+, which was a fitting way to acknowledge a long association with the Park.
An American Ideal 2 year old gelding Lucca was an impressive winner of the race, having his first start for owners BD Sceats and GJ Anderson, and for Ashburton trainer Brent White. Blair Orange got the youngster home after a difficult run to beat the more experienced older maidens impressively.
Arden Lodge has bred a large number of horses that have raced at Forbury Park over the past fifty years. Some raced while they were still owned and also trained by the late Doug Stiven. Son John recalls many trips from Tapanui to Dunedin in the Ford Fairmont, with the homeward leg seeming considerably shorter if there had been success on the track.
In the 1990's Doug raced the mare Arden's Dream (Son Of Afella/ Evasion) at Forbury Park on nine occasions for two wins, a second, a third and two fourths.
Doug also trained Bradley Arden (Holmes Hanover/Browngate Missy) to win there twice in 1998 and had placings with Arden Lass ( Son Of Afella/Montillado) in 1990, three placings with Carol Arden (Plat du Jour/Carol Storm) in 1985/86 and a third with Sir Arden (Sir Dalrae/Bayswater) in 1984.
In 1988 Doug trained a horse called Mister Gaines (Gaines Minbar/Miss Butler) for Tapanui owners the late Jack and Ngaire Kilpatrick, and had success twice at Forbury with Robin Swain in the sulky.
One of the earliest wins at the Park by an Arden Bred was by Arden Bay (Honest Master/Bayswater) in October 1976. He was trained by AL Milne and driven by son AD Milne who was a Junior Driver at the time. He had had two second places at Forbury prior to the win.
Someardensomewhere (Somebeachsomewhere/L'oiseau de Nuit) won the Fitzgerald Contracting/Clutha Licensing Trust Mobile Pace at the Tuapeka Meeting held at Forbury Park in October 2013 - much to the delight of The Beach Syndicate, whose members included several from the Otago and Southland region who had traveled to Dunedin to see the race. Blair Orange drove the gelding for the All Stars trainers.
Other Arden Bred winners at Forbury Park include Arden's Concord (Panspacificflight/ Madam Morussia), Liberal Arden (Sir Lincoln/Ardenart), Celestial Arden (Rocknroll Heaven/Arden's Darlin), Colin Earl (Preux Chevalier/Carol Arden), Arden Roanoke ( Art Major/ Rocknroll Arden), Arden's Heritage (Soky's Atom/Arden's Dream), Arden's Attack (Courage Under Fire/Arden's Highlight), and Bettor's Strike (Bettor's Delight/Winter Rose) who had three wins at Forbury Park.
Arden's Concord and Celestial Arden scored a quinella in July 2016.
Click the link to watch the race: https://youtu.be/CqwzVIzXI2c
One of the more exciting finishes by an Arden Bred racing at Forbury Park was in the Group 2 Dunedin Casino 4 YO Championship when Alan Beck drove Radiant Arden (Sands A Flyin/Arden's Highlight) who was last turning for home to finish second. John and Karen Parsons had taken over the training of Radiant Arden after Doug passed away in 2001.
Click on the link to watch the race https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ego58YVzoZ8
Well done to Forbury Park and its dedicated team of supporters to have made it all possible - thanks for the great memories.