Inter Dominion Hall of Fame
Scotch Notch

1983 Trotting Championship Scotch Notch
1983 Trotting Championship, Auckland - Graeme Lang and Scotch Notch cross the line
copyright N.Z. Herald

Scotch Notch and Graeme Lang
Graeme Lang salutes the crowd after their 1983 victory

Scotch Notch 1985 Trotting Championship
1985 Trotting Championship, Moonee Valley - a second Championship win to Scotch Notch and Graeme Lang
photo courtesy Harness Racing Victoria

Graeme Lang and Scotch Notch
Graeme Lang and Scotch Notch with their 1985 Trotting Championship trophy

Time Trial Scotch Notch
Time trial, Moonee Valley, 9/3/1985 - Scotch Notch and Graeme Lang set a new World Record in 1:55.6.
photo courtesy Max Agnew’s “The Australian Harness Horse”

Scotch Notch


Foaled in 1977 of pacing lineage, Scotch Notch became the trotting enigma of her time, with breeding experts puzzling over her pedigree for years. However, her trotting instincts are still as much a puzzle now as they were two to three decades ago.

Her sire was the pacer Scottish Bret USA (F1968) P.2,2:01.2; 2:00.6 a son of the world champion pacer Bret Hanover P.1:53.6. Scottish Bret USA was imported to Australia in 1973 via the United Kingdom, his first foals arriving in UK and Australia in 1974 and his last in 1990. Scottish Bret’s winning progeny totalled 131 pacers and, for a pacing sire, a rather large total of 28 trotters, the fastest by far of either gait being Scotch Notch.

The dam of Scotch Notch was Ada Glenfern by Tarport Kid USA P.2,2:03.6 ( by Direct Rhythm USA P.1:56.2) thus continuing Scotch Notch’s immediate line of pacing antecedents. It is not until the fourth generation is reached either paternally or maternally that trotting blood begins to show, despite some trotting bloodlines in the maternal family, where her foundation mare is Narelle by the pacing sire Prince Imperial.

Not racing at all at two year old, Scotch Notch had nine starts at three years (1980/81 season) for two wins and four placings, including a win in the prestigious Victoria Trotters Oaks at Moonee Valley as her season finale, and first result for new owner James Wong, who had paid $20,000 for the filly. Transferred from trainer Eric Dove to Graeme Lang's stable, Scotch Notch had thirteen starts as a four year old, excluding a time trial in 2:01.4, for eleven wins and one placing. These results led Wong and trainer/driver Graeme Lang to think that greater things were in store for the mare.

As a five-year old, Scotch Notch had eighteen starts in Australia and New Zealand including a mile in 1:58.6, which set a record at the Geelong track. Her best wins in Australia included two heats of the Australasian Trotting Championship (second in the Final), the VL Dullard Trotters Cup and the EB Cochran Trotters Cup. However, by far the mare's most important wins were a heat and the Grand Final of the 1983 Inter Dominion Trotting Championship at Auckland, NZ. There she set a world record and Inter Dominion distance record mile rate of 2:04.4ss over 2700 metres, beating Jenner by six lengths, and Sir Castleton NZ , who turned out to be her arch rival over three seasons of racing. On her first trip to New Zealand Scotch Notch won $49,365 from three wins and a second in four starts. Her lifetime total at the end of her third season of racing was $137,362 from 42 starts including 25 wins and 9 placings and a lot more was to come.

In the 1983/84 season Scotch Notch continued her strong performances with three wins and three places from six starts in Victoria. At the New Zealand Cup meeting in November 1983 she was second from 45 metres in the NZMTC Handicap. Second again in a FFA, Scotch Notch then won the prestigious Dominion Trotting Handicap from 10 metres over 3200 metres. From three starts she had $36,400 in prizemoney.

In South Australia later for the 1984 Inter Dominion Trotting Championship, Scotch Notch won two heats but was beaten three metres by Sir Castleton NZ in the Grand Final with the up and coming Tussle NZ third. The mare's prizemoney all told for this season was $72,898, despite missing some racing opportunities such as the Australasian Trotters' Championship due to a bowel complaint.

The1984/85 season proved to be Scotch Notch’s best and it was also the last time Australia’s harness racing industry would see the mare race. She won nine races at Moonee Valley and had several starts at Kilmore, including a performance in the Group Two Kilmore Cup against the pacers.

Resuming her rivalry with Sir Castleton NZ at Moonee Valley in the 1985 Inter Dominion Trotters Championship, Scotch Notch was beaten in the first heat by her rival but then won a division on the second night of heats. That set the stage for an epic struggle between the two in the $30,000 Grand Final over the marathon distance of 3300 metres on the 2nd March 1985.

Scotch Notch proved to be too strong for Sir Castleton NZ, winning by six metres in front of a track record Moonee Valley crowd of 39,000 which had come to see the contest, and to see if Preux Chevalier could win the Pacing Championship. On both counts the crowd went away well pleased with the winning performances of their favourite trotter and pacer.

A week later, Scotch Notch amid much enthusiasm time trialled in 1:55.6 setting not only a new world record for trotting mares, but also a new Australasian record that stood for twenty-seven years (until Savona 1.55.4 in April 2012). She then won three of her next four starts including the Australasian Trotters Championship from 60 metres behind and the EB Cochran Cup. That was her last start in Australia on 13th April 1985 and the last time the home town crowd would see her.

The 1984/85 season performances of Scotch Notch, with sixteen wins and two placings plus one time trial and life time earnings of $334,856, brought the mare to the attention of the management of The Meadowlands track in New York. They were conducting the Statue of Liberty Trotting Series over two nights in June that year as an Invitation event and twelve of the best trotters from USA, Canada, Europe, Scandinavia and Australia were invited.

The target field included Meadow Road (Sweden), Mon Tourbillon and Minou du Donjon (France), Garland Lobell (Canada), Manfred Hanover, Babe Cosmos and Sandy Bowl (USA), Ellizar H (Denmark), Rosalind’s Guy (Finland), Toyota Moulin (Norway), Star of Goldstar (Netherlands) and Scotch Notch (Australia).

Accepting the invitation, trainer/driver Graeme Lang and owner Jim Wong and families headed for New York apprehensive of their mare’s chances against the best trotters in the world but willing to give it a go. Scotch Notch was transported to US trainer/driver Mike Gagliardi’s farm and stables at Lakewood, some 75 kilometres from The Meadowlands track in New Jersey and close to the City of New York. Such was the reputation of the mare that an American breeding syndicate invested in a half-interest for $US200,000 prior to her first race.

Coming down with a virus it was touch and go whether the mare would be fit to race. Drawing seven in the $135,000 first of the series on June 17 Scotch Notch was a long way back in tenth position but closed well for 6th position at the end to the Swedish entry Meadow Road who ran 2:57.6 for the 12 furlongs race.

Barrier one was drawn by Scotch Notch in the second race over one mile and raced in the midfield until making up ground in the run home to finish 4th in the $185,000 event. This was again won by Meadow Road who at this stage of his career was unbeatable trotting the mile in 1:54.4. Mon Tourbillon the French trotter ran consistently for a 2nd and 3rd in the series.

Staying over to race at The Meadowlands, Graeme Lang and Scotch Notch competed in six races for five seconds including four to Manfred Hanover, one of the US entries in the Statue of Liberty Trotting Series.

Graeme Lang and Jim Wong then returned to Australia, leaving Scotch Notch with US trainer/driver Mike Gagliardi who managed the racing of the mare for the rest of her career in USA. For the balance of 1985 Scotch Notch raced at The Meadowlands, Garden State Raceway, Roosevelt and Yonkers for five wins, her best time being 1:57.2 at Garden State, which was the then fastest winning result by an Australian, or New Zealand-bred trotter. Soon after, she smashed the world trotting mares' record on a half-mile circuit with a 1:58.6 victory at Yonkers Raceway. Her USA record for 1985 reads 16 starts-5 wins-7 placings for $USD116,050, and her best win that season was on February 14, 1986 when she beat the champion mare Grades Singing in an Invitation event.

Leg injuries then kept her off the track for most of 1986, but after failing to conceive to Kentucky Futurity winner, Flak Bait, she resumed racing as a ten year old and scored eight more wins, despite three pins in her leg. Her last race was at Freehold Raceway on November 6, 1987, winning in 2:02.4 and she was subsequently sold back to Lang and Wong after being retired. Her US performances showed 60 starts, with 18 wins, 21 placings and earnings of $335,899.

In 1988, the champion was put in foal to the world's leading trotting sire Speedy Crown, and in 1989, she and her colt foal returned to Australia. But there was little time to enjoy the change, with the mare succumbing to a virus within a few months. The colt, Speedy Scotch, never raced, due to injuries suffered soon after being broken in. First used at stud as a two year old in 1991, Speedy Scotch sired seventy five foals between 1992 to 1995 for twenty winners, the best of whom was Melancholy Comment Tr.2:00.8. But, as if to confirm that destiny had decreed that the maternal line from Scotch Notch was not to be perpetuated, Speedy Scotch died in 1995.

Well–known trainer/driver Graeme Lang regards Scotch Notch as “the best squaregaiter produced in Australasia”, and she was the first Australian trotting mare to break the $100,000 mark. Her Australasian record mile rate of 1:55.6 recorded in 1985 was not bettered until late 2010 (by gelding Sundons Gift 1:54.3), and she won Horse of the Year awards in Australia, New Zealand and New York. Many agree with Lang's view “there has never been one like her, nor do I think there will be”.

Overall Scotch Notch’s lifetime statistics and earnings were as follows:

  Starts Wins Placings Prizemoney
Australia 66 43 14 $249,091
New Zealand 7 4 3 $85,765
USA 60 18 21 $335,899
Totals 133 65 38 $670,755

major races/honours won by
SCOTCH NOTCH in Australia and New Zealand
3YO 1981 Trotters Oaks
4YO 1982 Time Trial TT2:01.4 Geelong Victoria
5YO 1982 Tasman Cup Kilmore Victoria
1983 Australasian Trotting Championship Heats (2) Moonee Valley (Group 1)
1983 VL Dullard Cup Moonee Valley (Group 1)
1983 EB Cochran Cup Moonee Valley (Group 1)
1983 Inter Dominion Trotting Championship Heat (1) Auckland NZ
1983 Inter Dominion Trotting Championship Grand Final Auckland NZ (Group 1)
1983 Time Trial TT1:58.3 & TT1:58.6 Geelong Victoria
6YO 1983 Dominion Trotting Handicap Christchurch NZ (Group 1)
1984 Inter Dominion Trotters Championship Heats (2) Adelaide South Australia (Group 1)
7YO 1984 FFA Trot 1.59.1 Moonee Valley
1985 Inter Dominion Trotting Championship Heat (1)
1985 Inter Dominion Trotting Championship Grand Final Moonee Valley (Group 1)
1985 Time Trial TT1:55.6 Moonee Valley
1985 Australasian Trotting Championship Moonee Valley (Group 1)
1985 EB Cochran Cup Moonee Valley (Group 1)
1985 Chris Howe Cup Moonee Valley (Group 1)
HONOURS Vancleve award (3) 1983, 1984, 1985
Leading Stakeswinner (trotter - Australia) 1983, 1985

seasonal career in australia & new zealand
3 9 2 4 $8,125 2:08.6
4 13 11 1 $22,504 TT2:01.4
5 17 12 4 $107,133 TT1:58.3
6 12 6 6 $72,898 2:02.3
7 22 16 2 $124,196 TT1:55.6
  73 47 17 $334,856 TT1:55.6

race footage
1983 Trotting Final
Race footage courtesy Mike Dickinson
1985 Trotting Final
Race footage courtesy Mike Dickinson

Pedigree - Scotch Notch

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