Taranaki harness racing trainer Taffy (Evan David) Bayly passed away last week. He was 84. He has trained 33 winners since Harness Racing New Zealand keeping its records in 1985. However there have been a lot more. Stratford Trotting Club president, Pene Mitchell tells us more about Taffy's life.
Taffy's love of horses began when his father Eric used to break in and sell heavy work horses.
Taffy was a founding member of the Stratford Trotting Club which was formed in 1958. Taffy's father and two uncles were on the first committee and when his father stood down a few years later taffy took over his place.
He has not missed one trotting meeting until this year and hardly missed any committee meetings. In 1992 Taffy was deservedly made a Life Member and in 2008 was formally recognized and thanked for his 50 years of dedicated service to the club.
1959 was when he got his first horse "Van Rip" and in 1960 Van Rip gave him his first win and a 21 pound purse.
He learnt the ropes of harness training from the late Peter Jones,Jack Baker and Alec Corrigon.
Taffy trained his wife Hilda's favorite horse "Roxana" and won The Guide Rangi Memorial cup at Rotorua. This win bought him and the family a lot of joy and the Trophy is now in The Hall of Fame in Auckland.
He trained the winner of the first Night meeting held at Hutt Park(Van Rip),according to Taffy this was not the NZ's first meeting under lights-"I reckoned the first was at the Hawera Showgrounds which was the home of the Egmont Trotting Club. The reason I can remember is ,I drove the winner of the first race. It was only like an Equalisator meeting but it was run under the rules of trotting"
Over the years Taffy has notched up over 100 wins with horses like. Van Rip,Alex's Gift,Ivy Scott ,Taffy(who ran second to Cardigan Bay)Admiral John,Crondo,Cherie Marie,Inspiration,The Snip,Berry Hal(Taranaki Horse of the year 83/84),Ava Nandina(who won the Eric Higgins Memorial Flying Mile 1985),My Pal,and Brilliant Emory who beat the one and only Delightful Lady on 31/3/79.Brilliant Emory went on to reach NZ Open Cup Class status and was later sold to American interests.In more recent years there was Flying Spender and Flyin Along(now racing in Australia)who also notched the win tally up for Taffy.
His 50 odd years of training trotters is reflected in a wall covered with photographs of winners passing the winning post.Cabinets full of trophies and prizes.and scrapbooks full to the brim with newspaper clippings,race books from EVERY meeting he raced at full to the brim with newspaper clippings,race books from EVERY meeting he raced at and more photos!-lovingly recorded by his wife Hilda.
Taffy became President of Stratford Trotting Club in 1975 and has dedicated most of his life to serving the club,committee and the stratford community.
He lived and breathed harness racing. A man full of wisdom and wit. Always willing to give advice to those who asked and even to those who didn't!!!
When Taffy wasn't down at the track or away racing he could always be found working on his dairy farm-developed in the early days by the sale of some his winners.
A Very Very PROUD Family man-always singing the praises of his sons Roger & Peter and their wives Bev and Jenny. Taffy absolutely doted on his three grandchildren
Stuart, Kelsi (see below) and Rebecca-loved showing them off to his fellow trainers and friends.
Over all these years of farming,racing and training ONE person has steadfastly been by his side providing all the love and support, and keeping the farm on track while he was away racing. His wife Hilda(who needed to have the Patience of a Saint!)They were married for 62 years,having only recently celebrated their anniversary.
Finally a quote from Taffy:
"Racing is a game where you have your ups and downs,there's no doubt about that. If you can't accept that then you shouldn't be in it!!"
Sadly it's the end of an era for Stratford and Central District racing. Everybody's Friend,
A Legend and True Stalwart of the industry he will be sorely missed by all.
by Penny MITCHELL (President of the Stratford Trotting Club)
There are also two very moving eulogies from family members below:
EULOGY BY SON PETER BAYLY:
Taffy: Born Evan David Bayly on the 29th of January 1928 in Stratford. He was the middle child to parents Eric Bliss and Mary-Anne (Nee Jones), known as Molly Bayly. His older brother Les and younger sister Elizabeth or Bet as she is more affectionately known; survive Dad, and we are pleased and proud to have them and their extended families here today.
Dad's parents had humble beginnings and were the result of the Bayly's and the Jones' coming together. The progeny themselves of hardy settler stock who helped stump, clear and forge a farming career from a harsh new, but fertile land in a sometimes unforgiving climate.
It was sometime in 1933-4 that Eric and Molly Bayly moved the family to Monmouth Road where Dad was to remain for most of his life, apart from farming with Mum on flint road for 7 years before returning after buying their own farm back there in 1962-1963.
Dad's school years began at St Joseph's Stratford then continued up at Pembroke road. It was in these formative years that he developed his competitive spirit where he was sharp of eye, strong of limb, and quick of wit. He also had a nose for mischief to match and wasn't above many a prank or practical joke. Among his early success' were prizes for growing vegetables and with his school calves - he always had an outstanding calf, both pre-pointers to his impending success as a farmer. Other early memories are of him and Les walking single file to school to protect Bet at the rear from the driving rain: and sometimes the joy of catching a ride on Billy Hay's and Ernie Mander's milk cart.
Dad then attended Stratford High School where I'm unsure of any academic heights, but he was a member of the 1st 11 cricket team, enjoyed playing rugby and definitely would've gone home with an empty lunch box. These were through tough financial times for the Bayly's through the war years, but everyone was always happy.
So after an unillustrious school career spent frustrating the establishment he, rather than splitting the atom possibly excelled in splitting the odd cane; He left school and started work in the Pembroke road dairy factory at age 16. His boss soon remarked he was equal to any man at his young age.
Dad had many tails of working there - some of sheer hard physical toil, some of yester year hygiene, others of trout fishing with sack and spear on half days and yet others of skull duggery of managers with milk weights and favoured suppliers vs unfavoured or abrasive ones. But all in all they were happy times with Pembroke winning many international cheese awards whilst he was there.
It was through this time he continued his love of sport, playing rugby for the Stratford Rugby Club with his brother Les and also managing sometimes two games of cricket a weekend - for the Central team on Saturdays and for Pembroke on Sundays. He also played occasionally for Midhurst. It was cricket that he and Les formed a formidable bowler - batsman partnership, Les with his patience and keen eye and timing with the bat and Dad with his fierce competitive streak with ball in hand, where he on one occasion, he took 11 wickets for 9 runs in 2 innings. And many years later, he gave me the very ball.
It was also through this period that Dad met a young and attractive Hilda Nolly outside the Kings theatre, formally introduced of course. It wasn't long before a romance blossomed and Mum and Dad were married in Stratford on the 10th June 1950. In the same year Mum and Dad began share milking for Binny Estate directly across the road from the family farm on Monmouth Road, milking 45 cows and rearing around 100 pigs for 6 years. It was around this time that Dad, through his two uncles Peter and Jack Jones, began working with trotting horses. And so when the opportunity arose for him to sharemilk round at Flint road on Peter's farm, he jumped at the chance to be closer to his beloved horses.
It was that early start with his uncle Peter Jones that was to help Mum and Dad on their way, which they never forgot and was to set Dad on a path to many successes on the race track. Some of the great horses he shared success with Jonesy were Pip White, Derry Brown, Van Rip and Cuddles. Many, many more were to follow, some in partnership with others and some on his own account. Roxanna, Brilliant Emery Admiral John, Cherie Marie .
But after 7 years at the Jones', farm ownership became a reality and it was back up onto the Monmouth Road where Mum and Dad had purchased a run-down farm off Clyde Kemsley. Dad reluctantly made the decision to sell a top horse he had at the time, called Taffy and duly put the money into fertiliser and water troughs, more than trebling production in the first year and then bettering it again in the 2nd.
It wasn't long before Dad was convinced by others - namely Peter Jones, Bill Sangster and Alex Corrigan-that he was too talented to turn his back on breaking in and training race horses, and so began a life-long love of horses and racing which remained with him to the very end, and saw, that at virtually no time was their never a horse on the farm.
They were hectic times on the Bayly farm, with two boisterous young boys to keep in line, a farm to run, maintain his love for horses and honing his skills as a trainer. He still found time to be heavily involved in his other interests of the Rugby Club, district and school affairs and the trotting club. As many of you will know Dad was a foundation member of the Stratford trotting club in 1957-58 and became a committee member in it's 2nd year after his father stepped down.
He went on to be president and then gain life membership in 1992, and then was awarded a 50 year service award in 2008. He had a remarkable record of never having missed a meeting since the inaugural meeting until this year when he was in hospital. He was also made a life member of the Stratford Racing Club for his unwavering and dedicated service to racing in general and the Stratford Race Course.
He served on the Stratford Rugby Club committee for 12 years -from 1963-75, and spent many hours at working bees, nailing flooring at the gym, helping Bill Charlton with the squash courts project and working with Hobb Needham and Count Caskey running the many Calcutta's to raise money for the club.
Some of his many lifelong rugby friends included Don Carlson, Alf Kivell, Sid Hancock, Hobb Needham, Bill Charlton, Jim Young, Pat O'Neill, Jack Aitkinson and Buster Walker to name just a few to spring to mind. He also served as Pembroke School Committee Chairman for 3 or 4 years and was instrumental in getting a new school building which eventually arrived a year or two after he had stepped down.
His other passion at this time was working around the dairy cattle sale yards where I believe he worked for Newton Kings and then Wrightsons for over 40 years. It was a treat as a youngster to accompany him to a sale not only to watch him cast his critical eye over the offerings, but he could spot the shenanigans happening around the ring a mile off and was never afraid to pull up the auctioneer or anyone else for that matter, if he thought the wool was being pulled over someone's eyes.
All through these times, always firmly by his side was mum keeping the home fires burning while he could pursue his many interests.
So what sort of man was Evan David Bayly, Taffy or Taff?
Forthright, honest, opinionated, wise, loud, difficult, firm, kind: He was many different things to many different people. Husband, Companion, Father, Brother, Grandfather, Mate, Advisor, Critic, Valuer, De-valuer, Farmer, Trainer, Farrier, Practitioner, Judge and Jury. Whatever he was to anyone of us, he always dispensed his opinion un-reservedly, whether you wanted to hear it or not. Black was black and white was any other shade.
The words of legend and iconic are often thrown around rather freely these days, but I believe as others will testify truly describe the man we call Dad.
Someone recently said to me what was Taff's biggest achievement and at the time it was easy to maybe think of one of his big race wins, or a particular horse. But on reflection it would have to be of course, his loving family. That is his true legacy - his farm, his wife, his family and his horses.
Dad, Rest In Piece at Last.
EULOGY BY HIS GRAND DAUGHTER KELSI BAYLY:
"ARE YAH THERE!?" The first sound of Poppa's booming voice at 10.00am every Saturday morning without fail! It's a half question, half introduction to his arrival. But he already knows we are home. And we can already tell hes' arrived. We all heard the ungraceful revving of his gear changes pulling into the driveway, and the squeal of the breaks on his little red Ford Courier ute.
He kicks off his time-worn leather pull-on boots and quietly opens the heavy back door before slamming it behind him so hard the house shakes. He tries to startle us and walks in with that great big horsey grin plastered across his aged handsome face.
"Whadda yah reckon?" Are his next words, with the volume of a 21 year old. He throws his faded cap on the table, and then takes a long moment to lower his tall, ripened body into the best seat in the house. We all sit in silence and wait, Mum, Dad, Stuart and I. There's not much point sharing with him what we all ‘reckon'. He's not here to listen to what we have to say, it's just an invitation to start a hearty debate - something Poppa is very well practiced at. Right about now is when poppa goes off in a spiel about the recession, the next world war, the local sale. He brings the whole world's problems to his own frail shoulders. But, he does not worry, he just likes to have a good yarn.
My poppa is a very thought provoking man, and a curious one - we often find him sifting through our mail. Without even trying, Poppa can capture the entire room's attention. He's a bit of a stirrer, and from this, we can all gather he loves a little bit of attention, and he likes to occasionally tug on the heart strings for a bit of sympathy. When someone asks him "Taffy, How're getting on?" his reply is usually, "Still alive, me knee's giving me hell, and so's Hilda." He flashes his horse grin again as he jokes about his wife of 62 years. If you ask anyone who knows Poppa, they would all agree that Poppa in fact, gives Nana hell! She deserves a medal for putting up with his bickering.
Training trotting horses has been a passion of Poppa's for well over fifty years. He's had many great
horses and won many great races. At the ripe old age of 82, Poppa is still going, with just one
horse, a good one. This will be his last as his body is "packing up". So Poppa is making the most of it.
He regularly roars off down the road in his 1989 ford Hino horse truck, all the way to Auckland,
Cambridge, Palmerston North and even Rotorua. "Silly old bugger" are Nana's world to describe him.
The passion for horses is something I share with Poppa, and no matter who he is talking to, my
competition results always find their way into Poppa's yarns.
"This is my granddaughter Kelsi, She's a champion pony rider." Is always the proud introduction I get
to his old friends. His wealth of knowledge and advice has always been welcomed, even though his opinions are typically blunt and very old fashioned. His years of experience and success bare one of many things every horseman or woman very much admire and respect about him.
After sipping away his cuppa tea, devouring an odd chocolate bickie, (a treat nana won't feed him) and offloading his most recent gossip, the time when Poppa gets up to leave.
"Well, I better get on with it I spose." He hobbles out the door and gently closes it behind him, hesitating for a second. He's waiting for my usual hug goodbye, after which I walk out to his ute with him and wave him off as he swiftly backs out, narrowly missing a passing car, then roars off down the road, revving just as abruptly as he'd arrived.
EULOGY BY HIS ELDEST GRANDSON STUARTI BAYLY:
We can probably all agree that Poppa was not a lazy character, he would never sit still when hedidn't have to, always cruising around seeing what was going on telling you how or not to dosomething.He really loved being out and about working or just working people.
Hed always turn up at thewrong time when it looked like something wasn't going right and start yelling orders.He was a fairly honest bloke if he said he was going to do something he meant it and get straight tothe point when telling you something.
A spade was a spade.He was supportive be it financial orHe would always be interested in what everyone was up to giving you a game of 20 questions everytime you saw him, an answer would always lead to more questions.Hed almost always have a funny remark to stir someone up - no matter who it was and was prettyquick with witty comebacks when on the receiving end.
I spose this is how he got on so well with so many people only he could get away with some of thethings he would come out with.He had made a lot of friend in his time who can all agree he had a one in a million personality and aheart as big as a race horse.
Rest In Peace Great man! - Duane RANGER (editor)