Gyro was inducted into the Victorian Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2019, along with - among others - fellow breeding notables, Noble Scott and Edgar Tatlow. Noel Ridge, from the Victorian Harness Racing Museum, follows his career as a racehorse and ultimately as a highly influential sire.
The 1960 colt’s impact, which was formally recognised with his induction to the Victorian Harness Racing Hall of Fame late last year, came quickly on the track. He was a spectacular juvenile pacer and there is no doubt without injury would have risen to even greater heights than his 20 wins from 45 starts for $25,212 in earnings. Gyro race spasmodically from age two until eight, and then had a successful career at stud during and after his racing career of only 45 starts.
Bred and raced by hall of fame members Harry and Frank Abrahams, Gyro was trained by another hall of famer Jack McKay. Gyro was by the imported Adios stallion Meadow Vance, which stood his first season at stud at Derby Lodge Epping for Edgar Tatlow. He was bred by the Abrahams at their Meadowbrook Stud at North Woodend. Gyro’s dam Argent was a daughter of the 1949 A.G. Hunter Cup winner Silver Peak from the unraced U Scott mare Scottish Maiden.
Scottish Maiden was one of the mares selected in New Zealand to establish Meadowbrook Stud by studmaster Ron Males. Argent was a 1952 foal - trained by Jack McKay and driven in races by his brother Bill – and a remarkable filly, winning the Victorian and New South Wales Derbies and Oaks. Her record of classic race wins reads:
- 1955 Victoria Breeders Plate (2YO)
- 1955 Victorian Sapling Stakes (2YO)
- 1956 Victoria Derby heat (3YO)
- 1956 NSW Derby heat (3YO)
- 1956 Victoria Derby final (3YO)
- 1956 NSW Derby final (3YO)
- 1956 NSW Oaks (3YO)
- 1956 Victoria Oaks (3YO)
- 1956-57 Victorian Free-For-All
She produced only four foals before her untimely death:
- Argoist, 2:14.2
- Gyro, 2:04.0
- Gyration, 2:03.2
- Sperry, 2:08.4
Gyro was a champion juvenile. Press articles of the time included these quotes:
Hall of Fame member and legend George Gath, August, 1967: “Without doubt, the champion pacer of Australia.”
Hall of Fame member Bruce Skeggs, Trotting Register, April, 1968: “One of the greatest classic winners ever in Australia.”
Driven by Dal Fitzpatrick, George Gath, and Kevin Murray, Gyro started odds-on in 15 of his first 16 starts. At 2YO in his first race-start at the Royal Melbourne Showgrounds, Gyro was driven by a youthful Fitzpatrick, who at that time was employed as a stablehand by Jack McKay. He started odds-on, but was unplaced after striking trouble during the run. Starting odds-on again at his next start at the Showgrounds on New Year’s Day 1963, he was driven for the first time by master driver George Gath. Again, Gyro struck trouble, colliding with another runner, with Gath tipped out of the sulky. Later in the season Gyro won a heat and the final of the Victorian Sapling Stakes at the Showgrounds.
As a 3YO in 1964 he was placed at all 12 starts, winning the Victorian Sires’ Produce Stakes, the SA Sires’ Produce Stakes by a margin of 75 yards and NSW Derby at Harold Park. Gyro finished second in the SA Derby and second in the NSW Sires’ Produce Stakes after losing 50 yards at the start. Gyro was unable to contest the Victorian Derby due to injury. Watch Gyro’s 1964 NSW Pacing Derby win here:
Gyro severely injured a tendon and was spelled for 17 months. He made a successful comeback as a 5yo, starting off 24 yards first-up with George Gath in the cart. There were concerns reported in the press over the horse’s old injury leading into the race. Racing at the tail of the field for most of the race, Gyro made a late run, but was beaten by Donald Doon (driven by Gath’s stablehand David Gleeson). Following an ugly demonstration by the public, stewards - headed by - Wally Weight - launched an inquiry. Following a long enquiry that made front-page news, Gath was found guilty of incompetent driving and suspended for eight months. This penalty was later reduced to three months. Kevin Murray, a former New Zealander who had experience driving champions including Cardigan Bay and Robin Dundee took over the driving duties.
From seven starts that season, Gyro won four, including the A.A. Laidlaw Cup at Stawell. He again broke down, but made another comeback in 1968-69, starting 15 times for five wins to round out his racing career. Gyro went onto to sire 164 winners from 457 notified foals, including the good race winners Arbed, Go Guy, Chief Guy and Flying Future.
Gyro went onto to sire 164 winners from 457 notified foals, including the good race winners Arbed, Go Guy, Chief Guy and Flying Future. He had foals in each of 18 seasons from 1967, with his last born in 1985 when he was aged 25. He had his largest crop of 50 in 1977. His progeny won a total of $1,644,731. Gyro’s first ten seasons resulted in a good performer each season:-
- 1967: Go Guy 1:59.8 $167,116
- 1968: Unsaid 2:01.4
- 1969: Flirting Guy 1:59.6
- 1970: Quite Guy 2:02.2 $34,640
- 1971: Missing Link 2:06.3
- 1972: Fiery Guy 2:05.0 $21,134
- 1973: Summer Guy 2:05.9
- 1974: Gyro Prince 2:01.4 $66,734
- 1975: Chief Guy 1:59.8 $90,663
- 1976: Bay Time Tr2:06.8
- 1977: Arbed 1:56.0 $185,970
As a broodmare sire, Gyro mares left a total of 841 foals. Of these, 344 raced for 220 individual winners with their total prizemoney being $3,510,681. Among them were the dams of dual derby winner Vanderport and seven-time cup winner Its Motor Power.
Abraham’s family records from Robert Abrahams, Melbourne.
Detailed race records prior to the first Australian Trotting Year Book in 1967, from Stephen Spark, Bendigo
The Trotting Annals of Bendigo and Environs by John Peck, a digital resource at the Bendigo Library
The George Gath Story, by Max Agnew. Hunter’s Publications, Yarraville, 1987