Sports correspondent & historian
A century in time has dulled the memories of the rags to riches tale of a Western Bay of Plenty racehorse that mixed it with the best in the country.
Surveyor, who was foaled in 1916 and raced in the famous Stead livery, won the prestigious Great Northern Foal Stakes as a two year old. Taken to Australia the following season, Surveyor showed he was up to the best class over the ditch, running third in the Victoria derby and fourth in the Caulfield Cup.
Surveyor was believed to be broken down, when Mr WH/Bill Paterson from Motiti Island paid 110 guineas at a Papatoetoe horse sale. The four year old proved to be sound and proved to be one of the greatest sale ring bargains of the time, going on to win 13 races under the ownership of Mr John Paterson.
Taken back to Motiti Island, which was owned by William “Dad” Paterson who had established a horse stud on the Island, the stallion did most of his racing preparation on Motiti Island.
Carrying a good horse’s weight of 8 stone 8lbs, Surveyor won the 1925 Wellington Cup ridden by one of the finest jockeys of the time in JB O’Shea. A United Press Association report of the day says “The winner led all the way with Landslide, Pantler, Limelight and Deucalion prominent. Surveyor led into the home straight and Gold Light made a brief challenge before dropping back.
“Surveyor won by two lengths with Gold Light a nose in front of Landslide, Stork was fourth and Musketoon fifth. The time was 2 minutes 24 seconds”.
An NZ Truth report states “There is no more capable jockey in this country than Jack O’Shea when it comes to riding a race from the front. To be frank he steals them.
“In the Wellington Cup he jumped Surveyor out and took the lead. He set the pace up going down the back. A pace that suited his mount and the rest of the field did not wake up to his tactics. John and Bill Paterson, owner and trainer, owe a lot to Jack’s judgment and they cannot fail to forget him.”
Rated amongst the best middle distance horse in the country in the Paterson colours, Surveyor held his form as an older horse, going on to win the Thames Cup as a nine year old. Another extremely prestigious race that the Motiti Island thoroughbred captured, was the Wellington Racing Club Champion Plate raced at weight for age.
One victory that would have given the Paterson team a great deal of pleasure, was winning the Tauranga Cup, although the time honoured race which is still contested today as the Bay of Plenty Cup, was run at Avondale in 1923.
Further big race success came in the Taranaki Cup, Avondale Handicap and Avondale Plumpton Stakes, with Surveyor finishing his racing career with the not inconsiderable sum of 8660 pounds in stakes in the Paterson ownership.
Surveyor passed away at the age of twenty-two in 1938, after proving to be one of the most successful colonial and New Zealand bred sires of the time, leaving numerous good horses who won on the flat and over the fences.