Clifford (Chappy) Chapman Sr., had a very long and distinguished career in the sport. Born in 1893, he drove his first race at Schomberg, Ont., in 1914 against Earl Rowe, who went on to become the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. Chapman drove his last race on August 9, 1955, at Greenwood Raceway, a winning effort with Walnut Star, a horse he also owned and trained. In a career that spanned some forty years, Chappy owned, trained or drove some of the best pacers and trotters in the country. On returning from Saskatchewan in 1920, he brought with him what was to be the Canadian Champion Pacing Mare of the Year, Rena Bison.
Tabbed “The Little Giant of the Sulky” by a Toronto sportswriter, Chappy became known by that nickname at every track where he raced. In 1929, he drove Keendale, the first winner of the Canadian Standardbred Futurity for three-year-old pacers. It was Chappy who developed the legendary pacer, The Count B, for future Hall of Fame Builders’ inductee James W. Brown. The Count B., who was also inducted into Canada’s Hall of Fame, was unbeaten during the 1943 and 1944 seasons and won the Canadian Pacing Derby four times, thrice with Chappy in the bike and the fourth with his son, John Chapman, behind the sulky.
Chappy was also the patriarch of one of Canada’s best known and respected racing families. Cliff and his wife, the former Adrienne Sullivan, raised four children: Cliff, Jr., was the former publisher of The Canadian Sportsman, judge, racing secretary, starter and an entertaining and popular auctioneer of racing stock; Carl was a well-known thoroughbred trainer on The Ontario Jockey Club circuit and the late John Chapman, a member of both the Canadian and United States Halls of Fame, who followed in his father’s footsteps. His one daughter, Mrs. Margaret Stevens, resided in New York. Chappy’s long career unquestionably exemplifies an undying love for his sport for he competed at the top of his profession in an era when money was not the attraction to keep the sport alive.