James “Allan” Smith, passed away Sunday morning at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The longtime PEI harness racing horseman was 87. The Hunter River resident operated a small stable from 1955 through until 2008. He was a complete horseman, did his own blacksmithing from the longtime family forge, jogged and trained horses on the roadside in rural PEI and at numerous matinee tracks. Allan had a driving career that saw him race on all the tracks in the Maritimes and many of the rivers during the ice racing days. He retired from driving in 1996. During his career he owned, trained and drove a number of Atlantic and PEI Colt Stakes winners, such Link C, Lady Stretch, Jim Andy, Bell’s Charm and Maritime fan favorite, the stakes winning and Invitational pacer, Bayside Katfish during the 1980s. Allan also trained back to the races, and shared the driving duties with his son, Earl, on legendary maritime stallion, Paris Dexter. After retiring from his driving career, Allan bred a number of stakes winners as well as continuing to attend the races in Charlottetown and Summerside up until the time of his passing. He also served as a director and president of the PEI Colt Stakes. He was honoured by the PEI Standardbred Horseowners Association, in 1999, as Horseman of the year. The Smith family was inducted the Atlantic Breeders Crown Association Families of honour. Allan is survived by his wife of 68 years, Wanda (Bernard), and children Margie, longtime maritime horseman Earl, Gary, Janet, and former Western Canadian trainer/driver Roger. His remains are resting at the Central Queens funeral co-op in New Glasgow, PEI, until the funeral this Thursday from the Hunter River United church. Lee Drake
Margaret Purdon, wife of the Hall Of Fame trainer Roy Purdon and mother of modern day legends Mark and Barry, passed away on Tuesday night just a day shy of her 86th birthday after a short illness. The sporting talent in the Purdon family wasn't limited to Roy and their children as Margaret was a talented sportswoman in her younger days repersenting New Zealand at golf touraments overseas and golf remained a passion right up to her recent short illness. Roy has been quoted numerous times over the years that his wife Margaret was the foundation on which all the success the family had achieved over the years was built on. Roy and Margaret had been married for 60 years. Here at Harnesslink we would like to express our sincere condolences to Roy, Barry and Katrina, Mark and Natalie, Owen and Gaylene and Suzanne and Tony and the wider Purdon family at Margaret's passing.
One of Western Australia’s most successful harness racing trainers and drivers Les Marriott passed away last night at the age of 86. Les drove his first winner behind a horse called Penrith at Kellerberrin on 14th April 1954 and his first metropolitan success came with Mel’s Girl at Richmond Raceway on 5th October 1957. His last win came behind the Alan Stewart trained Josie Dare at Narrogin on 4th November 2000 as a 72yo. Of his career tally of 454 winners some 216 came in the city and in 1964 he finished runner-up to Lindsay Smith on the Perth Drivers Premiership with 23 winners for the season. Les ranked among the State’s very best drivers in the sixties and had the nickname of The Rifleman due to an uncanny resemblance to Chuck Connors who was the star of the popular television series of the time – The Rifleman. Les trained more than 420 winners between 1954 and 2010 with 172 of that total coming in the Metropolitan area. His biggest win as a trainer and driver came with Pyramus in the 1972 WA Pacing Cup and the mare remains as the last mare to win the State’s premier harness race. Les took over the training of Pyramus after she had already won 12 races for Fred Hough and her eight wins for Les included a WA Pacing Cup, State Sprint Championship (later re-named Mount Eden Sprint), Stratton Cup and Invitation Handicap. She also finished second in a Fremantle Cup won by Roscott. On a list of the ten best mares to have raced in Western Australia in the last 100 years there is only one trainer with two mares featuring and, in addition to Pyramus, Les Marriott trained and drove the champion South Australian bred mare Virgil Queen. Virgil Queen won 21 races for Les including 15 metropolitan class victories with wins in a Mount Eden Sprint, Stratton Cup, Brennan Cup, August Cup and a famous Fremantle Members Mile when Virgil Queen dead-heated with Little William in a time of 1:59.6 which at the time was claimed as a World Record for a dead-heat time. The performances of Pyramus and Virgil Queen against open company were all the more notable in that they came in an era with no handicapping concessions given to mares. In addition to these two outstanding mares Les also trained horses of the calibre of Jack Junior which won eight races in Perth for Les including a heat and final of an Easter Handicap, Lord Mayors Cup and Fremantle 600 – a record made even more remarkable as Jack Junior’s pedigree was so short his third dam was unknown. Phillco won six in the city for Les including a George Booth Memorial Handicap and heats of an Easter Handicap and Birthday Gift while Les also trained another Brennan Cup winner with Vicemaster and trained a Golden Slipper winner in Full Draw. As a reinsman Les was keenly sought as a freelance driver and he won 13 races in Perth with Super Paddy for trainer Bert Cheshire including an Easter Cup, Australia Day Handicap and Memorial Day Cup. Les won a heat of the 1976 Inter Dominion at Globe Derby Park in Adelaide behind the George Kennett trained Royal Force on the same night that Fred Kersley drove Pure Steel to victory in a heat of the series. Les Marriott was a familiar figure at the Pinjarra track and only relinquished his trainers licence in August 2014. Alan Parker, Assistant Manager Harness Racing
A horse trainer has told how he was at a harness-racing meeting on Friday night when his mother was fatally struck by a hit-run driver only a short distance away. Earlier, Betty McArthur, 84, had watched her son Mick Darling’s horses in two races on the program at Phoenix Park in Port Pirie. She was walking back to her car parked in its usual spot outside a friend’s house, in Grey Terrace, when she was hit by the vehicle about 9.30pm. This is only about 100 metres from the entrance to the trotting park – and Mr Darling was still at the track when he got the news that someone had been hit. “It was straight after race five,” a shocked Mr Darling told The Recorder Editor Greg Mayfield on Saturday afternoon at his home at Bungama on the outskirts of Port Pirie. He spoke just after police released the news that a suspected offender was being interviewed over the hit-run. Mr Darling said he had ”mind-boggling” support from the community after the tragedy. “You don’t know how many friends you have got,” he said. He said it would be difficult on Christmas Day with an empty seat being there for Mrs McArthur. “All Christmases are special,” he said. Mrs McArthur is a former president with the Women’s and Children’s Hospital auxiliary and used to make dinners for drivers and trainers at the trotting track until a few years ago. She was a regular supplier of delicious nut rolls to a local delicatessen. Mr Darling agreed his mother was proud of him and always watched his horses go round the track. “I drove one horse in one race and another driver drove one of my other horses in the other race. They were the fourth and sixth races on the program and she watched them both,” he said. Mr Darling is president of the Port Pirie Harness Racing Club and president of the South Australian Country Harness Racing Clubs. “Mum and Dad had horses when we were kids. I originally raced her horses,” he said. “We went to school at Snowtown and Lochiel and shifted to Port Pirie for the last year of high school. “Mum didn’t work – looking after six kids was a big enough job.” It is not the first time that tragedy has truck the family. Mr Darling’s brother Robin died 17 years ago from an asthma attack. Later, Mr Darling’s mother remarried and became Mrs McArthur. “When she remarried there were 13 of us,” he said. “It was a big Christmas and a big day at tea-time. “Everyone knows her. She worked so hard for the trotting club. “She had been president of the Women’s and Children’s Hospital auxiliary for eight or nine years. “She was inspired to do this by her two disabled grandchildren. One of them can’t speak, but recently had a long “conversation” on the phone with Mum’ and was laughing and smiling. “Because my wife and I are shifting to Moonta, Christmas celebrations were going to be at Moonta. “I asked my mother when she wanted to be picked up to travel to Moonta and she said she was going to drive down - at the age of 84 - but we would have driven her anyway.” He said his mother always attended the trotting meetings. “She was actually a life member of the harness racing club,” he said. “I suppose that indicates how much work she did for the club. “She always made nut roll for the delicatessen – one of her loves was cooking. “She was proud of all of us.” A 40-year-old Port Pirie man was charged with causing death by dangerous driving, failing to stop and render assistance at a collision, and leaving the scene of a collision. He will be granted bail to appear in court at a later date. by Greg Mayfield Reprinted with permission of the http://www.busseltonmail.com.au/ Major Crash investigators continue to examine the circumstances surrounding the collision, and ask anyone that may have seen a dark-coloured Ford station wagon in the area to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or online at https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au
To Our Friends in the Harness Racing Industry, Trying to say thank you to everyone who called, texted, posted on the internet, sent flowers or prayed for us at the time of our son, Ryder Steck's death, seems impossible. The love and compassion we have felt from our entire industry has been so very overwhelming and amazing. It is true that when something tragic happens you find out who your friends are and we are honored to have so many in this business that we can call our friends. While not all of you may have personally known Ryder, you reached out to our family with such care and compassion, at a time when we needed it most. We do not have answers as to why Ryder didn’t make it, his Doctors are still unsure. All we do know is that we had 18 years, one month, and 14 days with an incredible young man that we were blessed to call our son. Our pain is unimaginable and something we will carry with us forever but please believe us when we say that we have felt your prayers, text messages, and facebook post from the beginning of this tragedy. The pictures Rob Pennington posted on Hambo day truly touched our hearts and brought smiles to our faces during such a tragic time. We have said numerous times that trying to say thank you for something like this seems so small, we can only hope that each of you will feel our heartfelt thanks and truly realize how much we appreciate all the love and support. Although we know the days ahead are sure to be harder than the days behind us, we know that it is your prayers and the love our industry has shown us that has moved us forward this far. We will continue to move forward with your love and support with every passing day because that is what Ryder would want us to do. From the bottom of our hearts, Thank you again. Ron, Kila, Parker and Ranger Steck and the entire family of Ryder Wilson Steck
One of the North Islands better known studmasters from the 1980s and early 1990s Neville Goldfinch has passed away after a short illness. Neville and his family moved to Perth in Western Australia when his son Craig went there to become part of the Ross Olivieri stable when Ross returned to Perth after a stint in New Zealand. Craig went on to win Australasian Young Drivers Championship in 1996 and was foreman for the Olivieri stable for over ten years. Craig set up a stable in Byford in recent times in south western Perth with Neville as his chief stablehand. Neville is survived by his wife Colleen and children Craig, Sharon and Fiona.
Harnesslink has become aware of the sudden death of the well known and respected harness racing identity, Ken McDonald at his home in Brisbane, Australia One of the "McDonald clan from Christchurch, Ken was well known in both harness and thoroughbred circles on both sides of the Tasman. His business success in the telecommunications industry let Ken pursue his passion for horse racing in both Australia and New Zealand over several decades. Ken first came to prominence in harness racing with the champion pacer Master Musician 1:54 ($1,926,810) who he raced with his close friend Eugene Stork and Robert Dunn. Over the years he has raced horses with a lot of his friends including Brian West of Studholme Park with whom Ken currently raced a few fillies including Secret Lotion and Art Critic. Ken was at Addington as recently as last Thursday night to see Dongel Jimmy Dave, who he races with family members, win impressively. A longtime friend and client of leading Queensland thoroughbred trainer Alan Bailey, Ken had interest in both codes in Australia. His latest star in the harness racing side of things in Australia was the brilliant For A Reason 1:49.4 ($803,433) Ken was really keen to bring For a Reason to Addington for this years New Zealand Cup in an effort to stop his brother Terry, owner of champion pacer Terror To Love from claiming his fourth straight cup victory. Ken figured as Terry had won three, maybe it was time for his younger brother to have a turn although as anyone who knows them knew, the brothers were very close. Ken was also known on both sides of the Tasman as a generous warm hearted man of the highest integrity. He will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him. The funeral service for Ken will be held at Silks at Addington Raceway on Thursday August 14th. Harnesslink Media
The family of Wendy Hoogeveen has advised the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) that there will be a private family-only ceremony. They went on to say that, at an appropriate time, friends might gather in celebration of her life. The ORC will remain in touch with her family and will share these details as they unfold. This has clearly been a difficult time for Wendy’s family. Please continue to keep them in your thoughts and prayers. The last few days also have been difficult for all those who worked with Wendy. If industry members are comfortable doing so, please take the time to share your fond memories of Wendy. The ORC has opened a special email address. memoriesofWendy@ontariohorseracing.ca All comments will be shared privately with Wendy's family who no doubt will enjoy hearing the stories and memories that we have all experienced over our years. Steven Lehman Executive Director
Harnesslink has become aware of the recent death of that well known harness racing identity, Ian Hunter who was involved in the harness racing industry from the 1950s through to the late 1980s. Ian died last week at the Waikato Hospice after a short illness at the age of 75. Forever known in the harness racing industry as the brother of Hall of Fame inductee Charlie Hunter, Ian was a well respected trainer in his own right. Over the course of his career Ian trained 114 winners on his own account with another 12 winners from the time Ian trained in partnership for 18 months with Bevan Paterson. One of the better performers to pass through his hands was the former smart juvenile, Major Lord 2:00.1 ($67,353). In his early years he worked for his father Jack Hunter when he trained for the late Sir Roy McKenzie from a property at Moonshine in Upper Hutt from where they won the 1964 trainers premiership with brother Charlie doing most of the driving. The most memorable driving success for Ian was when he drove Scottish Command from 60 yards behind to win the 1959 Auckland Cup for Sir Roy McKenzie. Harnesslink would like to pass on our condolences to his wife Pat and family at this time. Harnesslink media
WA harness racing lost one of its most successful lady trainers with the passing yesterday of Cass Haese – one day after her 83rd birthday. Cass trained some 119 winners including 47 in Perth and she remains the only woman to train a WA Oaks winner. Alfa Dyna, which was bred by Cass and her late husband Keith, won the 1992 WA Oaks three weeks after winning that years Country Derby. Alfa Dyna won a total of 12 races for Cass and other good winners for her were the 1995 Bunbury and Harvey Cups winner Scanio which won 22 races, 1987 WA Breeders Stakes winner Alfa Freeway which won a total of 22 races and the smart Motobuchi which won 19 races. Cass trained a pair of 2yo Silver Bracelet Stakes winners in Gay Adventure and Alfa Triumph. Even more remarkable is that each of Cass’s 47 Perth wins came with horses she and her husband bred and reared themselves. Alan Parker
Harness Racing Victoria was saddened to hear overnight of the passing of Don Dove at age 86. Dove was a masterful trainer over many years, posting regular victories at the Showgrounds and then later at Moonee Valley, including winning many feature races. Dove’s horses were always perfectly educated, his runners – donning the famous yellow and green crossed sashes silks – regularly standing confidently behind the tapes in the stand-start races at the Showgrounds before commencing quickly. Dove’s best horse was Monara, which was named Victorian Horse of the Year in 1973-74. Monara’s feature race victories included the A.G. Hunter Cup in 1973 and 1974, the Ballarat Cup in 1972 and the Bendigo Cup the same year. Other notable feature-race winners with which Dove was associated included Macaree (winner of the 1965 Warragul Cup), Kelly Kid (1967 Victoria Derby), Lauries Legacy (1996 Chris Howe Trotters Cup and 1996 Victoria Sires Stakes 4YO Trotters Final), Nelson’s Report (1965 Victoria Trotters Derby), Flecks (1994 Central Victorian Pacing Championship Final), Kara Mia (1995 Ladyship Cup) and Missing Charm (1998 Angelique Club Cup). He also trained noted metropolitan performers Jay Ar Ewing, Tis A Miss, Ebony Chick, Monara’s Image and Personality Pete. Dove competed in a non-betting legends’ handicap race at Moonee Valley on November 15, 1997, winning the race aboard Hazzas Hope (magazine excerpt picture below - Dove is pictured driving Hazzas Hope). Dove moved to Queensland in 1998. Dove’s last winner as trainer came with Laylite at Albion Park in 2003 and his last winner as a driver was at the Gold Coast aboard Waltzing in 2000. Sons Trevor and Stephen have each been highly credentialed reinsmen. HRV will advise funeral details when known. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria
Harness Racing Victoria was saddened to hear of the weekend passing of Bill Hanson. Bill was an immensely popular harness racing man, whose enthusiasm and affability was infectious to all he met. Bill was a life member of Harness Breeders Victoria and he and wife Margaret were principals of Homevale Stud at Fern Hill. The stud stood many stallions and in 1990 purchased the legendary Maori’s Idol for stud duties, where he stayed until his death in 2006. Bill was an inaugural inductee into the VHRMA Hall of Fame in 2009. Officials from Bendigo and Mildura harness racing clubs spoke glowingly of Bill and his association with the sport. Mildura Club Manager Mark Kemp said Bill and Margaret would never miss a Mildura Cup Carnival. “They’d roll into town on the Monday and catch up with friends and they’d stay the whole week. Then they’d go home after the cup night on the Sunday,” Kemp said. “They formed very strong bonds with many up here in Mildura over the years.” Bill and Margaret would sponsor the Mildura Trotters’ Cup for several years and in 2013 the race was named in their honour. Mildura HRC will honour Bill at next Tuesday night’s Mildura meeting by naming a race after him. Bill also had a long and loyal association with the Bendigo Harness Racing Club, where he was a life member. Bendigo harness racing stalwart Des Rothacker, a long-time friend of Bill, said he would be missed. “He was very committed,” Rothacker said. “He requested Maori’s Idol be buried at the track. Just as you go into the club you can see a placard on the fence there about Maori’s Idol. That was at Bill’s request and the club was only too pleased to do it. “He had a lot of friends here. He donated a free service to one of his stallions for many years. “He enjoyed life and was a very good bloke and very good friend.” HRV CEO John Anderson said: “The industry is saddened to hear of Bill Hanson’s passing. He was a great friend of harness racing in Victoria and will be sorely missed. HRV sends its condolences to Margaret and family.” The funeral service for Bill will be held at the Thomas J. Scott Memorial Chapel in Piper St, Kyneton, on Friday, July 11, at 2.30pm. A burial at the Tylden Cemetery will follow. by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria
One of the larger than life personalities in harness racing in New Zealand, Bill Grice passed away recently in Invercargill. As a trainer for over twenty years from the mid-eighties, he always had a small but select team in work but still managed to clock up over fifty wins in that period. However it is as an owner that Bill Grice was so well known and respected within the harness racing community. The champion race mare Bonnies Chance (32 wins) was the best horse Bill was associated with but there were plenty of other high class horses that he raced, mainly in partnership with his lifetime friend Neil Pilcher. They became close friends in the early 1960s whilst working at the Alliance freezing works at Mataura and it was a friendship that endured till his death. Russley Rascal (24wins), Highview Tommy (17 wins), Classic Cullen (16 wins) and Mr Nickel (16 wins) are just a few of the smart horses they raced together. Harnesslink media
The well-known and respected Winton harness racing trainer / driver Alan Scobie passed away yesterday in Invercargill. He had many top horses in his care over the years, headed by the cup class half-brothers, Lord Lenny and Lookahead and the very smart Charles Luca who won five straight in New Zealand before his sale to North America where he became a talented free for all horse. Alan was a sought after catch driver with the brilliant juvenile Trident and outstanding race mare Steady Lady just two horses he drove regularly. He was also a great educator of young drivers with both his son Brendan and Lauren Pearson winning the new Zealand Junior driving championship while employed by him. Harnesslink media
Popular Gippsland harness racing trainer and driver Daryl Woolcock lost a lengthy battle with illness on Easter Monday. As well as being a thorough gentleman Daryl trained and drove pacers and trotters for decades, ending up at Koo Wee Rup. He had multiple wins with Tiffany Valley and Tamara Valley in the 1980's and in more recent times winners included Heeza Hudson (Warragul Horse of the Year) and Hudson Pacemaker. Perhaps his best horse was the talented trotter Pepperell Dancer, who won the Eddie Evison Memorial Trotters Cup at Warragul on the Easter weekend in 2008, plus also won the Bruce Skeggs and Yarra Valley Trotting Cup races, as well as winning metro races at Moonee Valley and Melton. Hudson Pacemaker and Pepperell Dancer were both later sold interstate, where Daryl's training ability helped the horses go on to numerous city successes. In the early 1990's Melbourne race caller David Raphael, who later went on to a distinguished career broadcasting in Hong Kong, dabbled briefly in trots driving and got his start in the sulky, and in race broadcasting, with the assistance of Daryl. Meanwhile local filly Queen Of Pop will be back in Sydney this Saturday night for the rich Australian Pacing Gold two-year-old fillies Final, after running second in a qualifying race at Menangle Park last Saturday night. Kyle Galley
Roger Cole, former harness racing fair and pari-mutuel Starter, passed away Wednesday (3/12) at the age of 69. The long-time mid-Michigan owner, trainer, and driver, was born in Charlotte on Jan. 4, 1945, the son of Frank and Margie Cole. Roger served in the United States Army from 1965-1968. In addition to his passion for harness racing, Roger enjoyed fishing, golfing, attending auctions, collecting clocks and knives, and playing pool. He worked at Fisher Body and retired after 35 years of service. He was a member of the Eagles Club and the American Legion, both in Charlotte, and UAW Local 602. Roger is survived by his wife, Norma (Johnson) Cole of Eaton Rapids; daughter, Amanda (Chris) Miller of Eaton Rapids; grandchildren, Katalyna, Kellan, Katyana Miller, all of Eaton Rapids. He was preceded in death by his parents; sons, Sammi and Nick Cole; brothers, Ken, Joe and Larry Cole. Funeral services will be 11 am Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at the Shelly-Odell Funeral Home, 518 S. Main St. Eaton Rapids. Visitation will be Monday from 2-4 pm and 6-8 pm. Memorial contributions can be made to the American Heart Association, 2140 University Park Dr., Okemos, MI 48864. Our deepest condolences to Roger's family and friends on their loss. Michigan Harness Horsemen's Association