Don’t Retreat

Don’t Retreat

This is a tribute to my late friend Barry Rose (see Featured Image of a ‘mature’ Barry Rose; I couldn’t procure an image of the horse!). I swore I’d steer clear of Standardbred Horses; but this one is different. ‘Don’t Retreat’ was one of the great Standardbred Racehorses. I’m not sure about his career at stud; a bit like his stud master Barry in fact? He was arguably the best of his breed to ever grace the paddocks of the Upper Hunter; ‘Don’t Retreat’ that is!


See also:

Story No. 32… DON’T RETREAT



There is no doubt that Tui Scott, the dam of Don’t Retreat, was one of the ‘gems’ of the brood mares ranks back in the 1970’s. Of her 11 foals she produced 8 winners including the good winners Eva Storm, Sister Storm, Alecane and Don’t Retreat. Her first foal was by Meadow Vance and the next 2 by Stanton Hal, but it was when she was sent to her third stallion, Stormyway, that she really began to ‘click’. He first foal to him was a pretty handy filly called Eva Storm but her next foal, a colt, was outstanding. He was named Alecane and won 44 races, and has been the subject of a story by me previously. Her next foal, another filly named Sister Storm, was also a good winner. She was then switched to Dale Axworthy and her 2nd foal to him produced the subject of tonight’s story.

Don’t Retreat won 55 races and was an outstanding pacer, as good as any of that era. His owner seemed to have a problem, however, finding a suitable driver for his horse as Don’t Retreat went through QUITE a few different drivers! The first to get him was John Mignemi, then Jim (J.C.) Caffyn, then Cyril Caffyn, then Laurie Moulds then………….!

Don’t Retreat, driven by John Mignemi, had his first start as a 2yo at Menangle on 14-11-72 finishing 5th to Tomsk and a week later ran last at the same track, but then he ‘found his feet’! Given a 3 month spell, he resumed on 21-2-73 at Hawkesbury and won by the huge margin of 25 metres after starting at 8-1. It would be 2½ years before they would see those sort of odds again. A week later at Penrith he ran 2nd off 10 metres but the following week won his first start at HP by 8 metres. A week later, off 10 metres, he ran 2nd again, and then won a heat of the Penrith Kindergarten Stakes before finishing 2nd in the final. He then went back to HP on the 27-4-73 and won his heat of the Sapling Stakes and the following week won the final beating Flying Heel and Sunset Hanover. Five weeks later he won a heat of the 2yo Challenge Stakes but didn’t compete in the final. His last start for the season was at Menangle on 3-7-73 when he ran 3rd in a heat of the Golden Horseshoe Stakes. As a 2yo Don’t Retreat had 12 starts for 6 wins and 4 placings.

Resuming 6 months later as a 3yo, Don’t Retreat won first up at Fairfield on 14-1-74 and 2 weeks later won again, this time at Bankstown. Back to Fairfield on  13-2-74 he won again, this time off 20 metres in a 3yo event, but at his next start he could only finish 7th in the Hawkesbury Derby behind Fair & Square after getting into trouble during the race. Four nights later he beat that horse easily in a heat of the Bankstown Guineas after starting at 4-9 and 2 nights later won the final from Le Ruisseau and Hermosa Star. Two nights after this race, now trained by J.C.Caffyn and driven by his son Cyril, he had his first 3yo race at HP and won easily at odds of 4-9, before travelling to Menangle and winning off 30 metres by a big margin. He had now won 7 of his only 8 starts as a 3yo. Back to HP where he won a heat of the NSW Derby from Sunset Hanover and Nevada Smoke but in the final he only finished 3rd to Nevada Smoke after starting a hot 1-2 favourite. He would not be beaten again as a 3yo.

On 1-4-74 he won at Fairfield off 20 metres and 4 nights later won the R.C. Simpson Sprint at HP from Al’s Holiday and Gus Erikson. Given a 2 month ‘breather’, he next raced at Menangle on  18-6-74 winning the Excelsior Stakes before travelling to Queensland for the Derby. On 6-7-74 he had his first start at Albion Park winning his Derby heat from Nevada Smoke and the following week won the final in track record time rating 2-4 4/5 for the 12½ furlong event. As a 3yo don’t Retreat had the outstanding record of 14 starts for 12 wins and 1 placing

Resuming three months later he jumped straight into the ‘deep end’, having his first start as a 4yo in a heat of the Spring Cup at HP. He showed that a new star had arrived on the scene when he beat the proven top class performers King Frost and Just Too Good. The following week he won his 2nd heat but could only finish 7th in the final won by Tarcoola Frost. On     8-11-74 he ran 3rd in a heat of the Australasian 4yo Championship and the following week ran 6th in the final behind Sunset Hanover, a horse he had beaten many times in the past. Next he ran 2nd in a heat of the 4yo Futurity then 3rd in the final, then 3rd in a Penrith FFA before 4th in a HP Quality event. He then travelled to Queensland for the Winter.

On 31-5-75 he won first up at Albion Park then 10 days later easily won the Redcliffe Cup. At his next start he finished 2nd to Paleface Adios off level terms and then contested the Sir Clive Uhr Championship at AP. In his first heat he finished 3rd to Gentle Miss, then 3rd to Al’s Holiday in the second round of heats. In the final he was beaten just a 1/2 neck by Paleface Adios, who always seemed to ‘grow a leg’ when racing during the winter in Queensland! At his next start, on 5-7-75, he ran the closest of thirds to Al’s Holiday and Flying Heel in a heat of the 4yo championship but the following week struck trouble and only finished 8th in the final behind Sunset Hanover. He came back to HP for his last start for the season and won easily for new driver Laurie Moulds. As a 4yo Don’t Retreat had 18 starts for just 5 wins and 9 placings.

A week later, on 1-8-75, Don’t Retreat won a similar event at HP and 4 days later won a FFA at Menangle beating Al’s Holiday. Three nights later he was back at ‘headquarters’ and won the C.H. O’Brien Memorial from 10 metres beating Lazy Ike and Roma Hanover. Given a 9 week breather, he then made it 5 in a row winning a HP FFA on 3-10-75 before contesting the Spring Cup. In his first heat he ran 2nd to King Frost and the following week finished 4th to Thorunder. In the final on 24-10-75, and driven by John Binskin, he made light work of his 10 metre handicap by easily beating Gentle Miss in record time at the very good odds of 12-1. He then travelled to Melbourne for a stopover on his way to Perth for the W.A. Pacing Cup carnival. In his  first Melbourne start he ran 5th to Gallagher in the Winfield Sprint, and the following week ran 2nd to King Frost in the Winfield Cup.

Three weeks later, and now in Perth, he ran 2nd to Royal Force in the first set of heats of the W.A. Pacing Cup. The following week he won his heat and seven nights later won his last heat beating the good local horse, Zaruma. The final was a terrific race with a top class field. Don’t Retreat started 6-1 from his 10 metre handicap and after a very good start was racing in the 1×1 after only half a lap. Al’s Holiday led with Paleface Adios on his outside and Don’t Retreat right behind him, but when Royal Force moved up to sit outside the leader he was then placed third in the ‘running lane’. Kevin Newman got away with some murderously slow middle sectionals on the leader, Al’s Holiday, and it was DEFINITELY going to be a sprint home, with the horses at the tail of the field no chance of making ground. Down the back the last time and it was on in earnest with Royal force the first to capitulate then Paleface Adios, but with Laurie Moulds driving hard, Don’t Retreat made up the ground on the leader and won running away. So slow did they go in the middle stages that the mile rate was only 2-8 2/5, very slow for this class of race. With the leader running a very fast last half mile it took an exceptional horse to overtake him. Al’s Holiday ran 2nd and Range View made it a NSW trifecta by coming 3rd. Five weeks later he was at Globe Derby for the Inter Dominion.

His win on the first night was a terrific effort against a top field including Al’s Holiday, Roma Hanover and Pure Steel. Going to the front fairly early he set his own pace and then defied all attempts to run him down. On the 2nd night he ran 3rd to Pure Steel and won on the last night of heats beating Nevada Smoke and Markovina. This was another top class effort. Nevada Smoke led early with him 5th on the rails but he was soon taken off the fence to sit outside the leader. He went to the front 2 laps from home and then defied all attempts to catch him, winning by 3 metres from Nevada Smoke with Markovina 5 metres away 3rd. In the final he finished 3rd to Carclew and Pure Steel being beaten just 5 metres.

Three weeks later he was back home for the Miracle Mile but couldn’t catch the flying Paleface Adios, being beaten just 3 metres with Hondo Grattan 10 metres away 3rd. He then had a 2 month break and resumed off 20 metres in an Invitation but, over the short distance, could not catch the very speedy mare Roma Hanover. The following week however, over the longer 13½ furlongs, he overcame his 20 metre handicap to beat Al’s Holiday. He then travelled to Queensland for his regular ‘winter in the sun’. On 12-6-76 he ran 3rd in the first set of heats of the Sir Clive Uhr Championship, but the following week overcame his 15 metre back mark to win easily from Sunset Hanover and Roma Hanover. The final was another terrific win for Don’t Retreat against a top class field. Don’t Retreat was favourite at 3-1 and after a fast start from his back mark of 15 metres, was 5th on the rails early, but Laurie Moulds got him out of there quickly to go up and sit outside the leader, giving Roma Hanover in the 1×1 and Paleface Adios in the 1×2 the final ‘shot’ at him. He took the lead on the home turn and defied them to run him down, no easy feat considering that Paleface Adios always raced at his best in the Queensland winter and Roma Hanover was a champion mare, a 1970’s equivalent of Tailamade Lombo at her ABSOLUTE best! Roma ran 2nd with Paleface 3rd.

Three weeks later he had his last start for the season at HP. Off 25 metres over the short 11 3/4 furlong distance he was last early, of course, and still 2nd last at the bell, but sprinted VERY fast from the 3 furlong mark, 3 and 4 wide, to win easily in track record time, rating 2-3 3/10 for the standing start event. It had been a long season for him and it was time for a rest so he was then spelled. His 5yo season saw 24 starts for 14 wins and 7 placings. He had won the HP Spring Cup, the W.A. Pacing Cup and the Sir Clive Uhr Championship, three races which would be ranked as Group One races today, so it had been a very good season for him.

Spelled for 3 months, he resumed in the Kilmore Cup on 25-10-76. Off the back mark of 25 metres with Paleface Adios, he turned in a tremendous run first up to be beaten just 2 metres by Pure Steel who he gave 10 metres start to. The hard first up run took it’s toll, however, as he could only finish 4th at his next start to Markovina in the Mooney Valley Cup. The following week, however, he turned in another super performance to beat a top class field in the Winfield Cup, with Pure Steel 2nd and Paleface Adios 3rd. Then it was back to HP for the inaugural Australian Pacing Championship.

Off 20 metres throughout the series he was 2nd on the first night behind Markovina, who was off the front, and on the 2nd night won from King Frost and Karamea Eve in record time. In this race he was last early (of course) but 2 laps from home made a move, but was kept 3 wide for the entire lap before getting in to the death seat. He stayed there until 400 metres from home when he sprinted to the lead and proved much too good for King Frost and Karamea Eve and ran a new race record. In the final he was in all sorts of bother and could only finish 8th to Markovina.

Two months later he contested the Australia Day Cup at HP. Off 20 metres throughout the series, he was 2nd beaten a head by Master Findlay with Koala King 3rd, on the first night, and 2nd to Gay Hondo on the second night. For the final on 21-1-77 he started at 9-4 and proved himself every bit the champion that he was. Last early, he went around the field to sit outside the leader and was much too good for them in the home straight, beating Koala King and Truant Armagh. A week later he was in Melbourne for the A.G. Hunter Cup carnival. On the first night he ran 3rd to Markovina and Pure Steel in a FFA, and followed that with a win over Paleface Adios in a similar event seven nights later. In the Cup he finished 4th to Pure Steel.

Three weeks later he ran 4th to Royal Force in the Miracle Mile and then back down to MV for the Marathon, finishing 2nd to Pure Steel. He then ran 2nd in a HP FFA before travelling to Queensland for the Inter Dominion. On the first night he finished 2nd from his 15 metre handicap to Sporting Son but on the second night of FFA heats, won from Gay Hondo. He was outside the leader all the way in this heat but was too classy for them at the finish. In the final set of heats he couldn’t give Dimante Hanover 15 metres start when he ran a new track record from the front, rating 2-4 2/5 for the standing start 14 3/4 furlong heat. In the final Stanley Rio ran a new track record from the front mark, making it next to impossible for the backmarkers to catch him.

A week later he was at MV for the Italian Cup and overcame his 25 metre handicap to win very well. He was last early but made a move 2 laps out to sit outside the leader for the rest of the race. Despite the start he gave them plus his hard run, he was STILL able to hold off all challengers in the home straight. The following week he ran 2nd in the Lady Brooks Cup and ended his racing season. As a 6yo Don’t Retreat had 21 starts for 6 wins and 9 placings, all at the highest level.

Don’t Retreat began his last season of racing on 9-9-77, off 25 metres at HP in a Quality event and finished 2nd. At his next start a week later in the Media Guild Cup he finished 2nd again, and the following week, off 25 metres again, ran 6th to Roma Hanover who he gave 10 metres start to. The next week he started in the Pacific Coast Pace. This attracted a top class field but Don’t Retreat won very well for his (now) driver, Cyril Caffyn. Four days later he competed in a Muswellbrook FFA and ran a track record beating Michael Frost and Paleface Adios. Twelve nights later he was in Melbourne for the Winfield Cup but could only finish 4th to Paleface Adios who ran a new track record.

Two weeks later he was at HP competing in the Spring Cup. In the first round of heats on 28-10-77 he found the 20 metre handicap too much after getting into trouble during the race, and finished last. The next set of heats were under FFA conditions however, and he made the most of the front mark by winning easily. In the final the following week he fell during the running, the race being won by the outstanding Rip Van Winkle. Given a month off to get over his fall, he showed he had taken no ill effects by winning his next start, the NSW Sprint Championship at HP ,and the following week, despite a 25 metre handicap, won easily for, another, new driver, Laurie Moulds. A week later he ran 4th in a FFA but the following week, with ANOTHER new driver, Kevin Newman, won a similar FFA beating Michael Frost and Koala King.

The following week, off 20 metres, he ran last in the first set of heats of the Australia Day Cup but the following week in the FFA heats he won easily at the very short odds of 4-9. The final on 20-1-78 was a terrific race for Don’t Retreat. Last early from his 20 metre handicap, he stayed there until they entered the home straight on the bell lap and then made his run 3 wide. He was three wide for the entire last lap but was just too good, and won by 3 metres from Koala King with Michael Frost 3rd. He ran a new race record as well. Two weeks later he won a HP FFA and nine nights later won a Mooney Valley FFA, setting a new track record for 11½ furlongs. His next start was the A.G. Hunter Cup. He was trapped leading the outside runners early then, briefly, had the 1×1 before being in the ‘death’ seat again. At the finish he found the eventual winner, Pure Steel, too strong and finished 3rd. He stayed in Melbourne, however, for the Inter Dominion
series the following month.

On the first night he ran 4th to Sole Command, won on the 2nd night and ran 9th to Markovina on the final night of heats. In the final on 18-3-78 he broke down in running and finished last. He was then retired to stud duties. As a 7yo Don’t Retreat had 23 wins for 11 wins and 3 placings. His full career stats are 113 starts for 55 wins and 33 placings.

Don’t Retreat was a champion every year he competed and raced at the top level throughout his career. He was a very good beginner who loved to lead and defy them to run him down, but was equally as strong when sitting outside the leader and ensuring a ‘true’ pace. To have a 50% win strike rate for so many starts over 6 racing seasons was an outstanding effort, and a true testimony to this wonderful horse. He won 7 races which today would be classed as Group One races, as well as numerous 2 and 3yo classics. He was a TRUE champion in an era of VERY good horses and was voted 4yo of the year and was the 1976 Harness Horse of the Year. It couldn’t have gone to a more deserving horse.

I once overheard a conversation between two top class drivers concerning Don’t Retreat. Both had driven him at one stage and both had ‘lost’ him. The rumour was that driver ‘B’ was about to get him back again and driver ‘A’ asked why he would take him back knowing he would ‘lose’ him again at some stage. He replied that there were some big money races coming up and he was confident he could win a fair share of the prizemoney before he was, inevitably, taken away from him again! THAT was what you had to contend with when you drove this horse.

By Jim Hogan

Approved by Dean Baring
Driving The Future Of Harness Racing