If the Prix d’Amerique is the hardest trotting race to win in Europe, the Famous Musselburgh Pace is the hardest pacing race to win. Older than the Prix d’Amerique by over 20 years, it is contested over Musselburgh racecourse near Edinburgh and it is not unusual for a hundred horses to enter. Split into heats and final, the winner has to run 1m660yds twice in one day, cope with the bends, the undulations of the back straight and then face the long run in, well known to break the heart of many a good horse.
This wonder horse has won that final twice – in 2002 and 2003. He won a lot of other races too, including the Sire Stakes, Crock of Gold Heats and so many Free For Alls, over varying distances at many differing tracks. Whatever the going, whoever the opponent he always raced tough.
He was awarded Horse of the Year in 2001, 2002 and 2003.
There was no horse than beat him more than he beat it. And yet he could not beat cancer. Discovered just before Christmas when he would have been enrolled for stud duties the following season, the veterinary advice was that he had to be put to sleep, just days short of his 10th birthday.
He was the ultimate equine warrior. Everyone spoke in the most glowing terms about Direct Dream. He was a massive loss to the sport and the breed – with his unique ancestry, including three crosses to Dan Patch, he would have made an interesting outcross stallion.

Bob’s Horse – The Direct Dream Story
Whether you are having a drink at the Talbot in Tregaron, or the Dolphin near Musselburgh, if you know anything about racing in Britain and someone said to you “How will Bob’s horse go?”, you would know that the bigger the race and the harder the odds were stacked against him, the tougher he would race.
To win back to back Musselburgh and to be very unlucky not to win a third in 2005, is only scratching the surface of what this horse has achieved.
Some say, what would he have done if he had had a good trainer? Bob Lee might not be a professional but he is no amateur either and stars such as McGuigan and Young Gee Lee have benefited from his tutelage.
When a horse wins his first race as a 3YO in 2.04, goes on to win the Sire Stakes, win three Sire Stakes Aged horses Free For Alls, two Crock of Gold Heats, endless Free For Alls and top class heats as well as holding the mile and a quarter record at Tir Prince, no more can be asked of horse or trainer. Bob however gives his son Shane all the credit as Shane is “one helluva driver”.
But where did it all begin?
As the Standardbred was starting to emerge in the mid 19th century in America by crossing road horses with thoroughbreds, a mare called Brenda, by Oliver was foaled in 1840. After a number of generations, a mare called Sea Fern was exported to Germany in about 1880 and when bred to the American stallion King Wilkes, Seejunger was foaled in 1888.
Four Germanic generations later, Trude Dillon appeared on these shores, just another mediocre German mare – but one of royal breeding being by Lee Nelson. She was bred to a one time leading British stallion Dillon Direct. Dillon Direct was a trotter from a male pacing line, and to my father’s knowledge never raced. Through his sire Dan’s Son he traced to Direct Star and carried a shot of Dan Patch blood. On his mothers side, Dillon Direct was out of Blue Belle, she being by the American import and noted trotter Furore Dillon. His grandson was Dunnings Sarah by another Yank, Jay Mack. According to my father, the third dam was an American mare called Countess, therefore all American blood. Dillon Direct got hundreds of winners, mainly pacers, the best probably being Spiretown bred by Arthur Sampson of Blackpool.
The resultant foal of the Trude Lee-Dillon Direct mating was Twin Feathers. Joe Mathers of Stockport owned her and I doubt if she raced. What Joe did was to put her to Storm producing Diane.
Storm, proper name Westrum, was a German horse by Bibi Junge and according to my mentor on matters trotting, Bill Howe, had a great pedigree and was a great horse. The break with trotting came when George Bates bred Diane to Wejover.
Wejover came to George Bates’ farm near Manchester in 1973 sporting a 1.59.2 record and a fancy pedigree. His sire Gene Abbe had sons eating up races in the Mid West but had yet to produce the foundation sire Big Towner. Wejover was from one of the best maternal families in America, that of Nervolo Hanover, and his dam Quilla Byrd and grandam Quilla Hanover were pacing matriarchs of the highest order.
Wejover had mixed results as a sire, but he bred a good filly in Gertie Gitana, bred, owned, trained and driven by Geoff Hadfield before he lost his marbles and concentrated on trotters! However in my opinion, no foal of Wejover matched the daughter of Diane, Wee Cheryl.
Wee Cheryl along with Diane, was bought by Howard Hinds but the mother died of bluebell poisoning and the foal had to be reared on a bottle. She became attached to Howard so much that she was seen following him like a big dog along the front at Morecambe.
I raced against Wee Cheryl many times and she always raced tough. She could also step a piece free legged. George Miller of Lydia M fame raced Wee Cheryl and she was a very good two year old. She once beat the mighty Saddler GB – a horse who became a top FFA star in America going in 1.54 and winning over $400,000 in the late 70′s and early 80′s. Wee Cheryl was bought by a gentleman of a man, Ronnie Sowerby. Ronnie loved a good horse and a good running dog.
Wee Cheryl when bred to Cover Up produced in 1984 a speedball called Cheryl’s Dream.
Cover Up was by Columbia George who is the maternal great grandsire of the great Artsplace. Whilst Columbia George went out of favour in America for producing fast, lame horses, Cover Up got fast sound horses here.
Cheryl’s Dream was a gifted mare, if a bit hot. She paced around Tir Prince in 2.03 and toured York in 2.03 trailing 20 yards. She was an exceptional sprinter winning numerous half mile dashes.
However, returning to Cover Up, he appears to be a broodmare sire of note. Cover Up mares seem to nick with Direct Scooter line stallions. Scoot Around, Direct Dream’s arch rival is by a son of Direct Scooter from a Cover Up dam. Cover Up mares have also done good with Raque Bogart – Zidane for example.
So Direct Dream is well bred, in fact very well bred. From a Royal Trotting family, he carries a touch of Dan Patch blood, he is by a great stallion, Direct Current, and is a grandson of Jef’s Magic Trick, universally acknowledged as one of the world’s premier pacing broodmares. He is however a little unusual. Firstly, he has only a smidgeon of ‘Skipper’ blood – and that in the fifth generation, is about 40% trotting bred – and that belies his great pacing gait. So what is his future?
“Bob’s horse” might serve a few mares. He might be very successful. No one of authority doubts that at his best he would pace close to 1.50 on a mile track in America. He has proven that he can race anywhere in the UK, over any distance. But his main asset might be his unique blood lines and paucity of Meadow Skipper blood. He also has very little Adios blood – only three crosses at the 6th and 7th generations. So if bred to mares loaded with Meadow Skipper and Adios blood – as most of ours are – he will be an absolute outcross.
Come to think of it, Abercrombie, Direct Scooer and Big Towner were absolute outcrosses, as was Meadow Skipper himself in the 1960′s. They did OK didn’t they?
Gordon Garnett – 2008

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