A ride down memory lane: Lance & Bridgette O'Sullivan

28 Jul 2020
Auckland Thoroughbred Racing

With our history spanning over 160 years, we thought it high time to ask a few (not so old!) friends of Auckland Racing Club (ARC) to recall their favourite memories of racing here at Ellerslie.


Today we chat to racing royalty, Lance and Bridgette O’Sullivan, about their favourite memories.


It’s a family thing. Bridgette & Lance (centre) with daughters Georgia (left) and Caitlin (right) here at the SkyCity Boxing Day Races 2019


Says past Club ambassador, Bridgette…

“Derby Day in 1993 will always be tough to top for myself.

“Lance and I had just got engaged, I won the fashions on the field competition and Lance won the Derby on ‘Popsy’ as well as five other races on the day.”

One for the archives… Bridgette back in the day here at Ellerslie under the role of ambassador for the Club


And Lance chimes in with two favourites…

“Two favourite memories come to mind for me…

“Derby Day 1993 [Ed’s note – they were asked separately and both said the same day!].

I won six races, including the New Zealand Derby, and got to see Bridgette win the fashion competition.

The Club actually received death threats for me that day so I had to leave the track with a security team!


And as for Lance’s second favourite memory of Ellerslie?

“My second favourite memory at Ellerslie was my 1993 Auckland Cup win with Ligeiro. There’s a funny story here… [which we have extracted from Lance’s book]

On the morning of the Cup, my mother Marie called in to see my grandfather, Clarrie, who was living in a retirement village.

“Wasn’t that wonderful, Lance won the Auckland Cup on Ligeiro! He’s done it close and there’s a protest and an inquiry but it’s OK, he holds the race,’ he told my motheron greeting her at the door.

“Dad, Lance hasn’t even raced yet! The cup’s not run till this afternoon.”

Was her father loosing it? Clarrie Davis was as aware of the timing for the Auckland Cup as anyone in the industry. No. The old man was adamant. He’d seen the race and he knew.

Upon arriving at the track, Marie relayed the details of her father’s premonition to family and friends. ‘If Dad’s right, no one will believe me if I tell them after the race, so I need some witnesses!’

Ligeiro got a nightmare run and with just 300 metres to the finish, was locked on the inner, unable to secure a clear run at the post.

Lance pulled to the left where he saw a gap and the race favourite Mercator ridden by Chris Johnson zooming past on the outside.

He’d go for it and zig-zag his way through, even if it meant bumping one or two (or six) out of the way.

Ligeiro, who relished a tough assignment, got up to win by a nose.

Not long after returning to the birdcage, the protest siren sounded.

Race favourite, Mercator, had finished sixth after interference from Ligeiro and Ellerslie’s stipendiary steward, Peter Linton, entered a protest – sixth against first.

After a lengthy enquiry, the placings remained – ‘Protest dismissed.’

Lance would retain the cup, and was also rewarded with a nine day holiday, courtesy of the stewards…

Clarrie Davis was watching his television when the officials’ verdict came through.

He smiled happily. ‘I knew that hours ago.”

What next? Want to join us on Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup Day 2021 and see who passes the post first? Click here to learn more about Auckland’s great day

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