Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 45 > Page 7 - The Donald Rankin Family and Harness Racing

Page 7 - The Donald Rankin Family and Harness Racing

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1987/6/1 (419 reads)

One day I was at a sale and I bought this filly, Velma Hanover, Hanover Shoe Farm was getting clear of all that breed; they weren't producing for them. So I bought her for a thousand dollars. And they sold the rest of them, down the line. So the next year her sister produced a 2-year-old called Albatross, And he was a world's champion! So that made Velma Hanover a lot more valuable. I sold her back for a good price. I sold her for 10,000 to Armstrongs in Ontario. They're the biggest breeders. But later, Hanover Shoe Farm bought Alba? tross back, for millions! Two million. And he's the premier sire. That was something, though. I stood at the sale and saw it. But after we bought Velma Hanover that day--I paid a thousand dollars--a fellow came to me, a pretty good horseman. He said, "I'll give you $500 (more)." I said, "Give me a thousand, and I'll do it." He said, "You want to make a lot!" "Well, for 500 I may as well gamble all the way." I knew she was well-bred. this magazine was Albatross's picture, where he was after winning. But I didn't know it, I hadn't seen it. And I said, "Did you read The Harness Horse this month?" "Oh jeez," he said, "did you get it?" (In the year that you had Velma, what did you do with her for that year?) Not a thing. She was up in Judique. I pastured a bunch of horses that year, and she was up there all summer. Didn't do a thing. Never put a bridle on her. (Did you know what you were going to do with her?) Well, I didn't like her shape, for confirmation for a race mare. She had small, kind of un? developed knees. I was playing around, I was going to breed her--when this horse (Albatross) started to go. (I sold Velma Hanover) to Armstrong farm. They bought her and they sent her to Meadow Skipper (bred her with Meadow Skipper). But she never set the world afire. She had some pretty good colts. She was well sold for the 10,000. So anjrway, one night we were sitting in here, and Donna was reading. We get Har? ness Horse--collect this magazine, and it's all the horses. The phone rang, and it was this fellow from Pennsylvania. And he said, "Have you still got Velma Hano? ver?" And I said, "Yes." "Well," he said, "you offered to take a thousand dollars profit." And (Donna) ran out, she stuck this in front of the phone: the cover of Then we had a fellow at the track, we had about 5 horses at the track. And I used to drive them and go in the odd day and train them. Well, we were at the cattle business too, and then we gradually got into more horses and more horses. Then the young fel? lows grew up. Sonny grew up--he was the oldest boy. He hated--he didn't like butch? ering. He liked the horses, so,... Donna Rankin Neville I guess they were always a part of your life. I guess you didn't realize it be? cause you were a part of it. But I can re? member being just a little kid, and you know how you say, "This is my horse"--I suppose I must have been about 4 or 5. We had Cecilia Sharon at that time. And I thought that she was a girl, and that would be my horse type thing. I can remem? ber sort of claiming her when you'd talk to people, that that was your horse, and going to see her racing. Dad had other livestock then, too, and it wasn't just exclusively racehorses. Dad had workhorses and saddle horses. I remem? ber looking over in the field there beyond the house, and there would be 10 or 12 horses. As a kid you could just go and catch a horse and ride it. It was a great way to grow up. We had a swimming pool down below. You'd be there and you'd come home for supper. There were always horses to ride. And there were always a lot of us kids. And neighbours. And cousins. And if you were around the house and you were in the way, I remember Dad saying, "Out, out, out! There's a hundred acres to run around in!" And everyone would go. It was funny. I went up to St. F. X. Uni? versity, and--you know how you take a friend home for the weekend. And this girl came home, and she met all the people that you hear about--when you're friends at uni? versity and you talk about your family. And we were ,back (at school). And she made a comment that I found really strange at the time. She said, "Donna, do you know that everybody in your family talks about horses?" And at the time I thought, "What does she mean by that?" And then when I sort of stepped back and looked at it, I guess it was true. (7)
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