John Coll – aka ‘Mr Springfield’ passes away

12:56 PM 12 Feb 2014 NZDT
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Springfield Hero
Springfield Hero - The best horse raced by John Coll.
Garrick Knight Photo

One of Alexandra Park’s most frequent patrons and founder of the Anzus Standardbred Agency passed away in Te Aroha last Sunday night.

John Coll of Morrinsville was 66. John, a prolific breeder and owner, was renowned for the ‘Springfield’ name. He also pioneered the shuttling of American standardbreds to New Zealand in 1991. John Geiger, of Geiger Bloodstock, bought his company two years later.

John’s foundation shuttle stallions were In The Pocket and WRH, a full brother to Ok Bye, who was named after the legendary American trainer driver W.R. (Billy) Haughton.

He was a committee member of the Morrinsville Trotting Club and was a past president of the Waitaki Trotting Club.

His friend Malcolm Mulligan who travelled to and from Morrinsville to Alexandra Park more than 100 times, said John was an avid trotting fan.

“He was a die-hard fan of harness racing, especially the squaregaiters. He really loved breeding from Armbro Invasion.

“He was extremely knowledgeable when it came to trotting bloodlines. What he didn’t know about them wasn’t worth knowing.

“He sat at his same little seat every week at ‘The Park’. The place won’t be the same without him,” Mulligan said.

John was born in Southland and farmed sheep, beef and crops in Pleasant Point before moving north to Morrinsville in 1990.

The best horse he bred was the 10-win ($94,320) Brylin Boyz gelding Springfield Hero. Other horses of note were Springfield Yankee (10 wins - $58,960), Springfield Master (7 wins - $34,211), Springfield Rocket (4 wins - $20,688). Springfield Countess, who won six races and $28,250, finished third behind Chipaluck and Maddie in the 1985 Group One New Zealand Oaks for 3yo fillies.

John also bred Adios Springfield (1:53.8) – the fastest son of Sharvid Adios.

He also had success in Australia, the best being his Sundon – Make No Mistake gelding named Springfield Alonzo. He won eight of his 52 starts and placed 11 times for $41,881. He also recorded a 1:58.6 mile when winning at Tabcorp Park Menangle on April 14 2012.

John also briefly owned Speedy Summit before selling him to Australia. That son of Speedy Crown later raced in the United States.

John’s latest claim to fame is the promising Armbro Invasion gelding, Foray. That 5-year-old trotter has won five of his 18 starts, including a last start Manawatu win (February 6) for Woodville trainer Mathew Hickey.

John’s death notice read: Coll, John Gilbert. – Passed away peacefully at the Te Aroha Community Hospital, after a courageous battle. Loved father of Robert of Pleasant Point. John was the dearly loved eldest son of the late Daniel McLaughlin and Kathleen Cyrilla Coll. He was the loved brother and brother-in-law of Cedric (Timaru), Alwyn and Sue (Christchurch), Gerard and Sue (Cheviot), and Pat and Donna (Timaru). Also a much loved uncle and great-uncle.

A funeral service for John will be held at St Patrick's Catholic Church, 625 Alexandra Street, Te Awamutu, on Wednesday February 12,at 1.30pm, followed by private cremation. All communications please to the Coll Family, c/- PO Box 137, Te Awamutu.

By Duane Ranger

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