Day At The Track

Vale: Tony Azzopardi

06:16 AM 12 Aug 2015 NZST
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Tony Azzopardi (left) with Graeme Watts following a win at Harold Park
Tony Azzopardi (left) with Graeme Watts following a win at Harold Park

Harness racing trainer, owner and breeder Tony Azzopardi will always be remembered as a great man.

The Maltese-born father of 10 passed away on Saturday, aged 89, following a stint of bad health.

He had great success with his horses, particularly one by the name of Double Agent.

Although Tony did not train 'Old Dub', he purchased the pacer from New Zealand in 1974 as a maiden two-year-old for $16,000 - a high five-figure sum in those days.

Vic Frost first trained Double Agent for Tony and after many wins together Frost requested the nine-year-old be transferred to trainer-driver Joe Ilsley's care.

Frost believed Ilsley's beach training methods would help the gelding's tendon-troubled legs and he was right - it was the start of a new career for Double Agent.

At the age of 12, Double Agent went on to win the 1984 Miracle Mile at Harold Park, adding a fairy tale chapter to the feature race as Ilsley was 60 at the time.

Double Agent's remarkable career spanned over 10 racing seasons where he amassed $341,907 in stakes from 94 starts, 38 wins and 25 placings.

And Tony thought so much of the horse, he not only treated 'Old Dub' like part of the family, he set aside money to ensure the great pacer would be well looked after, just in case anything was to ever happen to himself.

Double Agent spent his final years at Tony's property in Marsden Park in Sydney's west and when the grand pacer passed he was buried there.

Although Tony did not train Double Agent, he did train some winners, tasting success with the likes of My Soky, Tassie Bromac, Mighty Langus and Western Langus to name a few.

Tony arrived in Australia from Malta in 1954 and loved his horses from an early age but with a large family, he had little time other than for work.

He first cut cane in Queensland before building up a successful poultry farming business in Eastern Creek and then purchased his property in Marsden Park.

A funeral service will be held for Tony this Friday (August 14) at The Good Shepherd Catholic Church, Plumpton, at 10.30am.

To all of Tony's family and friends, Harness Racing NSW passes on its deepest condolences.

Amanda Rando

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