Day At The Track

Vale Dennis Offer - a true gentleman

03:29 PM 10 Mar 2015 NZDT
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dennis and lilly offer.jpg sunwhiz.jpg
Dennis Offer with his wife, Lilly, and Sunwhiz
Sunwhiz

Harness racing – and indeed the world – is a little poorer following the passing of popular Victorian identity Dennis Offer.

Always accompanied by a wide grin and a boisterous, yet warm, greeting, Offer was truly a rare character and a gentleman.

Survived by his wife Lilly, sons Frank, Aaron and Mathew and daughter Melanie, Offer lost his battle with cancer last Sunday.

It was Offer’s second battle with the dreaded illness, having previously fended it off in 2011 before being told of its return in 2013.

Every the positive-natured man, Offer vowed to fight and remained a shining light until the end.

“There is no point sitting there saying I have cancer and I’m going to die…you have to stay positive,” Offer declared in 2012. “The best thing, like I said, is to stay positive and stay busy to keep your mind off it.”

Renowned for his vegetable garden, Offer’s other passion was harness racing, in which he prepared a small team as a hobby, including his most recent handy performer was Sunwhiz.

Offer’s introduction into harness racing came during the days of his misspent youth more than 40 years ago after joining some friends on a trip to the trials.

Instantly hooked on the industry, Offer became a regular at the Ascot Vale Showgrounds on a Saturday night – when he wasn’t ‘tearing up the town’!

Purchasing his first horse – Vicki Eden – soon after, Offer turned to local horseman Martin Zerafa for advice and tutorage.

Although Vicki Eden failed to grace the winners’ circle, she served as an appetiser for Offer and Lilly, who had also become hooked on the industry.

In fact, it is Lilly’s love for horses that provided Offer with one of his favourite tales.

“One day Lilly was working a horse called Sailor Chief and it just took off on her,” Offer said. “I was standing in a shed with a few mates watching her and had no idea she couldn’t control the horse.

“We just thought she was going fast and let her go on her merry way. She wasn’t impressed with us, but we found it quite funny.”

The couple eventually registered their initial win when Treasure Hanover scored at Terang.

Moving his family to Rockbank during the mid 1980s, Offer has enjoyed his share of success with the likes of Matt’s Trouble, Cool Runnings and Lighting Mcqueen.

Cool Runnings presented Offer his biggest pleasure as a trainer when he annexed the 2001 Maltese Cup at Geelong.

Born in Malta in 1952, Offer’s heritage is a mix of Maltese via his mother and British on his paternal side.

Harnesslink extends its sympathy to the Offer family and their many friends.

  • PAUL COURTS

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