As a child Lyle Lindau grew up next to the Golden Mile trotting track in Kalgoorlie.
He came to Perth as a 16yo and helped his brother John who was having success with a small team of pacers but at the time Lindau’s real love was motorcycle racing.
Fortunately for harness racing Lindau decided to go through the WATA’s Reinsmans School and he commenced his training career when he leased a 3yo called Love Devine.
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Love Devine finished second to the champion Beau Don the first time that Lindau drove in a race.
“The 100 pound cheque was the difference as I could see trotting starting to pay and I went out and sold the motorbike the next day,” Lindau recalled some years later.
Without a large family stable behind him Lindau’s opportunities were limited early on but by 1963 his name began to appear on the top ten of the Perth Driver’s Premiership and in the 1964/65 season he was in the top two when he was runner-up to Phil Coulson and just three wins behind the winner.
He had already developed the habit of rocking in the cart and the nickname “Rocker” was to follow shortly afterwards.
“It came from when I won the August Cup in 1961 with Buller Pass. He was such a big horse that the cart had a tendency to rock from side to side and I just stuck with it,” he recalled years later.
The 1961 August Cup was Lindau’s first feature race win and the early association the gelding’s trainer Merv Stockden was to reap a bigger reward on New Year’s Day 1968 when they won the WA Pacing Cup with Radiant Fortune.
By 1968 Lindau had already formed an association with the champion grey gelding Blue Pennant which had been trained by his Wembley neighbour Tom Charles.
Blue Pennant won 26 races in Western Australia and Lindau drove him in 20 of those wins including victories in a Christmas Handicap and Easter Cup.
At the 1968 Inter Dominion in New Zealand Lindau and Blue Pennant finished third behind First Lee and Holy Hal to give Western Australia its first placing in an Inter Dominion in New Zealand.
All the time Lindau was establishing himself as one of the State’s finest freelance drivers he was steadily putting together a stable of smart horses and in 1968 he finished second to Jim Schrader on the Perth Trainer’s Premiership with 41 winners.
He welcomed the introduction of increased racing opportunities for two and three year olds as they represented potential early returns.
His list of quality horses is replete with the names of the State’s finest juvenile pacers however Lindau wasn’t always on the money in terms of identifying the star from a group of yearlings.
Famously he chose the filly Royal Belwin ahead of the colt Mount Eden. While Royal Belwin won a couple at Gloucester Park including a heat of the Sires Produce Stakes and third in the 1970 WA Oaks she was hardly a Mount Eden.
Santos Adios, a half-brother to Wee Cent won the 1972 Golden Slipper Stakes and Champagne Stakes double and Lindau won a second Golden Slipper Stakes with Watergate in 1975.
Wee Cent won 14 of her 20 starts as a 2yo and 3yo including the Sapling Stakes and was placed in both the Golden Slipper Stakes and WA Derby against the colts. She went on to become one of the State’s best ever mares winning 30 races including 17 in the city.
In February 1974 Wee Cent became Lindau’s third successive Fremantle Cup winner when she careered away to win by ten metres after starting a 5/2 equal favourite with Royal Force.
She followed on the wins of Roscott and Dollars Double and the only other driver to win this race on three successive occasions was Gary Hall Jnr behind Im Themightyquinn in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Roscott, a full-brother to the Victorian champion Monara, won 22 races for Lindau and started favourite in the 1970 WA Pacing Cup won by Daintys Daughter in World Record time.
In addition to his Fremantle Cup win Roscott won a Mount Eden Sprint and New Year Handicap and Lindau took him to Melbourne for the 1970 Inter Dominion.
The flashy Tasmanian bred Typhson, who was as quick free-legged as he was with hopples, won 25 races for Lindau including a Navy Cup and a heat of the Inter Dominion at Globe Derby Park in Adelaide. Fred Kersley drove Typhson for Lindau in his Adelaide win as Lindau was recovering from surgery for an infected tonsil.
Lindau’s tally of 988 winners includes one behind the 10/1 chance Atheist which Lindau drove to victory at Roosevelt Raceway in June 1976 when on a trip to America.
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