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The Gisborne Photo News




In previous issues we have often recognised sports people, businesses, and the people that have made them successful. This issue we have a story about a successful, locally owned, racehorse called Free Pass. Known as a Winter Racehorse, with a liking for wet ground, Free Pass, a gelding, has won 14 races in his lifetime, winning five major winter races in Auckland. Two of these included The York & Cornwall Handicaps at the Great Northern Meetings in Ellerslie. He also won the very prestigious Winter Cup at Riccarton, Christchurch. Free Pass also received three Gold Cups after winning the Taumaranui Gold Cup in 1969, ridden by Bob Skelton, the Te Awamutu Gold Cup in 1971 and again winning it in 1972. There were many well-known jockeys to ride Free Pass, with such names as Ron Taylor, who rode him when he won the Winter Cup. Brothers Bob & Bill Skelton also rode him, but overall Bob was his main rider. Free Pass was first bought by the late Ernie Candy at the Trentham Yearling Sales in January 1965, for 500 guineas, ($1050), and had his first race as a two year old in May of 1966, at Makaraka race course, here in Gisborne. Wally Moore of Gisborne broke Free Pass in, with Alec Stewart, being his trainer in his first year of racing. He was then trained by Syd Brown at Woodville, who was one of New Zealand's top trainers at the time, and after Syd Brown left to train horses in Australia, Bill Flower from Takanini took over the task. Toward the end of Free Pass's career he returned home to Gisborne, and was trained by local trainer, Alf MacDonald from Makaraka. Free Pass was nine when he had his last race, with his career spanning eight years. He is now 32 years old and still living at Waerenga-a-Hika, where up until recently, the Candy's had farmed for over eighty years. Not your typical racehorse, Free Pass has a very friendly nature and loves to be stroked, so with not a jealous bone in his body, he now shares his food and retirement with his friend and companion, Stu. Stu is a donkey belonging to Jennifer Taylor, who knew Free Pass when she was growing up, and would often take her friends out to see "this famous racehorse", as she describes him. Well into his retirement now, we can only congratulate Free Pass on his wonderful career and hope the rest of his days are happy.


Lilian Candy, wife of the late Ernie, with the Te Awamutu Cups.