YEAR: 2021

Trevor Beaton is being remembered as a passionate supporter of harness racing who will be sorely missed.

He’s died in Christchurch aged 70 after a battle with cancer.

“For over 40 years he was involved in standardbreds,” says good friend Graeme Iggo, “what quickly comes to mind are his high ethical standards, his passion, his generosity, his sense of humour and his loyalty.”

He was a former president of the Canterbury branch of the NZ Standardbred Breeders Association, vice president of the national body of the NZSBA, president of the Hororata Trotting Club and for two years was a HRNZ Board member. He also worked part time for HRNZ educating and training cadets.

“He was such a positive and jovial guy who was totally immersed in the industry,” says former HRNZ Board member Allan Brown.

Education was a big part of Beaton’s life and he was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for services to education. He retired in 2011 after being the principal at Cobham Intermediate in Christchurch for 15 years.

As a horse breeder he produced over 80 foals and was a highly respected preparer of yearlings for the sales, having won Best Presented Yearling on several occasions.

“The first mare he bought and bred from was Samantha Scott in 1972 which he paid $2500 for,” says Iggo, “he often laughed about the fact that the horse was worth four times his only other asset at the time – his $600 car.”

Current HRNZ Board member Ken Spicer recalls a trip to the Kaikoura races just last November when Beaton’s health was not good.

“Four of us stayed on course and his horse Admirable won, it was his first win there and a good ending to the yearly pilgrimage,” said Spicer.

“Trevor was a very good mate and we will all miss him dearly”

“He had made many friends in harness racing throughout the country,” said Iggo, “and he will be a significant loss, not only to these friends but to the industry itself.”

Funeral details to be advised.

Credit: 5 March 2021 , Obituary HRNZ


YEAR: 2020

Aged 87, well-known racing identity Ivan Schwamm has passed away, only months after training his last winner.

It was just October last year when his four-year-old trotter Majestic Sunset and driver Jimmy Curtin combined to win at Timaru.

“I got him for nothing off Bruce Negus. Bruce bred him, and trained him, but didn’t really like him.

According to an interview he gave at the time , the victory at the Phar Lap raceway was clearly a thrill : “It was so great at the races today, the number of people that called out to me, owners, trainers, drivers – many of them I’ve known for years and years. It’s a fellowship and I love it.”

It’s an industry he was part of for nearly 70 years, after first gaining his license while living in Palmerston North in 1954-55.

Trotter Perekop was one of his early success stories, while Rocky Star was a stand-out. Against a field of 25 starters, he took out the 1966 Hawera Cup and was a 10-race winner.

It appeared Schwamm also had an entrepreneurial streak. He started out milking cows and shearing, and in the 1960s negotiated the sale of numerous horses to North America.

“I would hire an aeroplane to take a consignment of 21 horses at a time and I was in the business for 10 years”.

He was associated with some great horses. He trained and drove the great mare Tussle to success early in her career after regular trainer and owner Cliff Irvine was away overseas. Tussle ended up winning 38 races including the 1987 Interdominion final at Addington.

He also drove Ruling Lobell to victory in the Group 2 Welcome Stakes in 1976. Starting a $2.90 favourite he won by five lengths for trainer Des Grice.

1976 was his best year for driving with 11 wins while as a trainer, he had 122 winners from more than 1700 starters from the 1950s through to the 2020s. The veteran trainer-driver had a stable at Leeston on the outskirts of Christchurch but did most of his work with the horses on the roadside.

Known for his bold driving tactics, in 2010 the then 77 year old drove his own horse Doc’s Delight to a win at Rangiora. It was his first for two seasons.

At the time the horse was trained by Lew Driver. He followed that up with Saltwater Gold’s success at Orari in 2015.

He will be remembered as one of harness racing’s most enduring characters

Credit: NZ Harness News, 8 April 2020, David Di Somma


YEAR: 2020

Lochie Marshall – A club man through and through

Harness racing stalwart Lochie Marshall is being remembered as a tireless worker for the industry.

Born “Lachlan MacArthur Marshall” he died in his home town of Geraldine this week after a battle with Leukaemia.

He had a long association with the sport, as a race-caller, trainer, and administrator. He was a past president and life member of the Geraldine Trotting Club, which is currently celebrating its 150th year.

“He was part of the club’s fabric,” says current Geraldine president Mark Weaver, “the sort that makes every club stick together.”

“As a builder his skills were handy …... and the number of trials and work-outs he organised, well god knows how many.”

As a commentator Marshall was described as a “chanter” and he was a regular at racetracks and on the airwaves. He called his first races in 1964 as a 19 year old and while South Canterbury and Central Otago were his most common gigs, he did have stints further afield at Forbury Park, Hutt Park and Riccarton.

He commentated until the early nineties, about the same time he started training winners.
He had 13 wins from 196 starters, exclusively with trotters. His most successful association was with Missie Castleton. She has had 81 starts for six wins and $62,701 in stakes.

Marshall trained her up until his deteriorating health forced him to transfer her to other stables.

Harness Racing New Zealand says “Lochie was very well known and very respected throughout the industry and his craft will be sadly missed by all.”

Credit: NZ Harness News, 24 Mar 2020


YEAR: 2020

by David McCarthy

Harness racing lost one of its best reporters and analysts with the passing of long time Press trotting editor Jeff Scott.

Jeff had suffered from the effects of a brain tumour diagnosed after he collapsed on a golf holiday in Queensland in mid-2019. Treatment proved unsuccessful.

He died as he had lived. Brave, stoic, cheerful to the end in the face of great adversity. It was also a reflection of his career in racing journalism where he was a true professional in an era of rapid change.

From farming stock in Southland, Jeff was a harness fan from an early age and while still at school had some work published in what was then the Trotting Calendar. Much of his time was spent developing his love affair with trotting. The premature deaths of both parents were an early battle with adversity handled in his usual quiet competent fashion,

In 1977 he joined the Southland Times as a cadet under Norman Pierce and later Don Wright and was soon being noticed for his work. In 1982 he was hired by The Press as assistant to longtime editor Geoff Yule whom he succeeded with Yule’s firm support in 1987. He was then already editor of the highly popular Trotting Annual which he continued for four years.

Even though the journalism world was changing in the wake of new technology Jeff remained true to the essential harness tradition of his earlier years. His analysis of trials and races; the sectional times and the field quality led him to be an expert selector primarily because he was not easily swept away by fads and fallacies. It was always form where Jeff was concerned and, especially as there were no replays of workouts and trials in those times, he had a large following.

Jeff also had a wide knowledge of harness racing in all its forms and in all countries and continued to be well informed about the local and national scene. He probably had no equal in his time in this respect and it was the source of many news stories

In later years, with the virtual demolition of the racing department of the Press through computerisation and technology and with the demand for more drama and controversy in content he was less at ease believing readers wanted substance rather than style.

A wrist problem associated with RSI was typical of Jeff’s work ethic. While some others took weeks and months off work to recover he carried on without complaint. He finally resigned in 2005 having achieved all those early goals from his cadet days. It would be fair to say some industry trends dismayed him but he never let it affect his basic love of the standardbred sport.

Jeff enjoyed his leisure time especially through golf where he was a leading member of a Press-based group with their own “PGA” series of “majors” and "minors” with whom he made 13 trips to Australia. In all he won 49 tournaments. In marked contrast to his racing activities Jeff could be somewhat inconsistent on the golf course - largely because of the wrist problems- but almost unbeatable on a good day. Fair to say his golf form would not have appealed to him as a harness selector.

Jeff was no extrovert and underrated by some because of it, but his dry sense of humour helped him through times good and bad and was soon appreciated by his associates. He also had a canny ability to quickly sum up character and personality in others

Jeff continued to work in the industry through form comments and selections for Australian publications and latterly web site management for Mark Jones and Cran Dalgety. His enthusiasm never let up and he was watching races on both sides of the Tasman until very recently with the usual solid analysis being offered after each one.

Jeff was and remained devoted to his wife Nicola and sons Chris and Cam, merely an extension of his honourable character in the best of Southland traditions.

Jeffrey John Scott was 59. It is not in this case just a cliche to say he will be sadly missed.

Credit: David McCarthy


YEAR: 2020

By Dave Di Somma - Harness News Desk

Awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to harness racing in 2012, respected breeder, owner and administrator Jim Wakefield has died in Christchurch, aged 87 .

The NZ Trotting Owners Association representative on the Harness Racing New Zealand executive from 1998 to 2010, he went onto become Chairman from 1999 to 2003.

According to friend and former HRNZ chair Ken Spicer: “He will remembered as one of Harness Racing’s best leaders and administrators.”

A key figure in developing the Racing Act 2003, he was also Harness Racing New Zealand’s first appointment to the New Zealand Racing Board (2003-06), and chaired the organising committee for the World Trotting Conference in Christchurch in 2007.

Former HRNZ chief executive Edward Rennell remembers someone who was “very professional in everything he did .. he treated everyone with respect”.

“My abiding memory is that he was very strong on industry integrity and maintaining high standards.”

As an owner, breeder and prolific yearling sales purchaser he and wife Dr Susan Wakefield have been associated with star horses such as Bettor’s Strike, Sparks a Flyin (21 wins), Texican, Scorching, London Express and London Legend (25 wins).

Bettor’s Strike was second in Monkey King’s 2009 New Zealand Cup with the Wakefields having a long and successful association with both driver and trainer that day, Dexter Dunn and Cran Dalgety.

Outside of harness racing, Jim Wakefield was a fellow (Hon Retired) of the NZ Institute of Chartered Accountants having been a member since 1956. He joined the Christchurch office of what became KPMG in 1952. He spent 27 years as a partner in the firm with three of these being Christchurch managing partner.

“He was a very astute business man, hard but very fair,” says Spicer

Highly thought of in the business and harness racing worlds, Wakefield was also a chairman and director of numerous private and public companies, as well as a philanthropist and avid art collector.

Spicer : “A very modest and understated man, as a friend he was a great mentor and was always available to give advice ... he was a wonderful man.”

A celebration of Jim's life will be held at the Westpark Chapel, 467 Wairakei Road, Burnside on Friday, December 4, at 2pm.

Credit: Dave Di Somma


YEAR: 2020

27 November 2020 , Obituary
Well known and highly successful breeder Heather Williams’ life will be celebrated at a special service next week, following her death after a short illness.

Heather and Lex Williams, who married in 1970, bred nearly 80 horses and will forever be associated with their millionaire trotting mare One Over Kenny.

Heather was once quoted: "We love racing and follow our horses whenever they are racing but equally we love breeding. Horses here become like part of the family, well loved and cared for."

In another interview Lex talked about her gift with animals. “She’s a good stock lady. She was a good trainer of dogs and became very very good at handling the foals. In the last few years we never had to break them because they were so quiet. She said there’s got to be an easier way than tying them up and having flank ropes on them so she read the Horse Whispers books. You have to start on them (the foals) when they’re very young. It became a trust thing between her and the foals. We got a lot of accolades from the trainers who said our horses were so easy to break in.”

Lex and Heather initially farmed at Lawrence in Otago before moving north to Waimate where they spent nearly 40 years running an award-winning sheep and beef farm. They also ran a movie theatre in Waimate and leased the opera house in Oamaru for 10 years before building a three-cinema complex there.

It was Heather’s urgings that ultimately helped snare One Over Kenny at auction.

Lex takes up the story : “(Trainer)Phil Williamson sorted One Over Kenny out – $20,000 was our budget. We got to twenty and the auctioneer said he’d take a half ($500) but he took a $1,000 from the next bidder. When the sales staff went to get the buyer’s signature he said oh no it was only twenty and a half.”

The auctioneer then decided to bring the yearling back into the ring three lots later.

"Heather said ‘why you don’t put in another bid.’ The other guy went to twenty and half and I went to twenty one. He said bugger you and pulled out and they knocked her down to me.”

One Over Kenny went to win 32 races and over a million dollars, including seventeen Group or listed races!

One Over Kenny and In the Pocket pacing mare Fleet’s Pocket have been the mainstays of their breeding operation, with most of their horses having “One” or “Flying” in their names.

One Over Da Moon (Majestic Son - One Over Kenny) was another stand-out with 22 wins.

Finalists for Breeder of the Year at this year’s Harness Racing New Zealand awards, they bred both Cracker Hill (7 wins – 16 starts - $133,230) and Ultimate Stride (9 wins – 16 starts, $180,268) who were the joint winners of last season’s 3-year-old trotting colt or gelding of the year.

They also bred and have a share in Group and listed 8-win trotter One Apollo. Both the sire One Over Da Moon and dam Anna Castleton were also bred by the Williams. They were also the breeders of the first stakes winner of Muscle Hill in New Zealand, One Muscle Hill.

Among their horses have been Flying Heathers One, Heather Castleton and Flying Mrs Williams.

Brad Reid, New Zealand Standardbred Breeders’ Association Executive Manager : “I was lucky enough to visit their farm a few years ago and their attention to detail was evident, and no doubt Heather was instrumental in a lot of that. I’m sure Lex won’t mind me saying that Heather was a hard task master, but she had a heart of gold and loved her horses.

“Lex and Heather have an unbelievable knack for whatever they touch turning to gold and have achieved remarkable success as owners and breeders of horses in both gaits.

Heather Williams was 69.

A service to celebrate Heather's life will be held in Campbell and Sons Chapel, 95 Gordon Road, Mosgiel, at 2.00pm, on Monday, November 30, followed by private cremation. Messages to 807 Brighton Road, Ocean View, Dunedin 9035.

Credit: Obituary


YEAR: 2020

After nearly 50 years’ involvement in the harness racing industry in this country Sam Ballantyne has died in Christchurch, aged 74.

A studmaster, trainer and driver Ballantyne was born in Scotland where he bred horses, just as his father had done.

He also raced horses regularly throughout the UK at venues such as Prestatyn in Wales and it was during this time he crossed paths with now prominent Auckland trainer Ray Green (of Copy That fame).

They would become mates.

“The UK scene then was like a league of nations. I’d bump into Sam twice a week and I’d drive horses he bred and then sold on, he was right up there with the best.”

“He was associated with a lot of Derby winners – he was a top breeder and he sold a lot.”

In the 1970s he made the decision to go to New Zealand. According to Green he was “looking for some adventure in his life.”

After settling in Christchurch he married into one of the country’s most prominent harness racing families. His wife Judy was the daughter of Freeman and Peggy Holmes, of Noodlum fame. He also set up his stud operation, Eastwood Lodge.

“He was a top stockman," says retired bloodstock agent Bruce Barlass, who worked at the Lodge for five years (1978-83).

“His care for the horses, especially broodmares and foals was paramount”

Among the other people he employed were now top American-based trainer Mark Harder, Grant Payne and the late Dennis Smolenski.

“In the biggest years 250 mares would be served there, to the two stallions Plat Du Jour and Nardins Byrd,” said Barlass. Other stallions there over the years included Australian champion pacer Preux Chevalier.

Gee du Jour (Plat du Jour – Geena) won the 1991 Rowe Cup while Folie Bergere,a Plat du Jour – Del Parole filly, trained by Ballantyne, finished third to the colts in the first ever Sires Stakes final in 1984.

After starting out in the mid 1970s, Ballanytne trained the last of his 73 winners (Amenophis) at Addington on January 2011.

As a driver he had 35 wins with Graikos arguably his best horse (8 wins – 17 starts).

Among his stand out performances was a second to Lord Module in the Group 1 Pan Am Mile in 1979.

“He was very professional,” says Green , “and his horses were always immaculate.”

“He would fit in with anyone, he was likeable and agreeable.”

Sam Ballantyne’s funeral will be held at Westpark Chapel, Burnside on Saturday, Dec 5 at 2pm.

Credit: Obituary


YEAR: 2020

It is testament to the sort of man Father Dan Cummings was that after decades of enormous success in harness racing that is rarely the first thing which comes to mind when you think of him.

Father Dan went to see his big boss upstairs on Saturday afternoon, taking his last breath after a battle with cancer that eventually moved to his lungs.

There was little shock in his death, it had been coming for 15 months, since he was diagnosed with the illness and decided to not go down the treatment path.

“He wanted to enjoy what time he had left and he did,” said his brother Peter after “Danny” passed away aged 75.

“He made the most of his last year but when he got back from the sales he started to get worse and struggled with his breathing at the end.” That Father Dan made the most of his final year is hardly surprising because that was how he lived his life.

He entered the priesthood straight out of school and upon being ordained spent much of his working life in the Dunedin diocese (the church’s region).

A priest can affect a lot of lives in that time, especially one as popular as Father Dan and he was also at the centre of one of New Zealand’s great tragedies, being the parish priest at Port Chalmers when David Gray shot and killed 13 people in the Aramoana massacre in 1990.

“That was a pretty intense time for Danny, being the parish priest during something that bad,” says Peter.

But away from a life of service, Father Dan was Danny to his family.

Danny loved animals, a love he got from his mother Joan who set up Tuapeka Lodge in 1965.

While that extended to harness racing it was originally focussed on rodeo, where Danny held the New Zealand record for bulldogging, which is when a rodeo rider jumps from a horse on to a steer or calf and wrestles it to the ground.

This would suggest Danny was a bit of a hard bugger.

“He loved the rodeo and was very good at it,” says Peter.

But after Mum passed in 1977 Danny (the third of eight children), Peter and sister Julie (Davie) took over the stud with enormous success.

“Danny was the breeding and horse expert, I was the farmer and Julie managed it and sometimes prepared the yearlings,” explains Peter.

Tuapeka Lodge generally kept their yearlings to 10, selling almost all the colts and keeping the fillies.

Dan would train some, including one of their flagship horses in Maureen’s Dream, but it was mainly the colts who made Tuapeka Lodge the respected nursery that went on to prepare 10 yearling sales toppers.

Many of them traced back to unraced mare turned superstar broodmare Sakuntala.

The family bought her in 1974 and she left 13 winners from 18 foals, including Tuapeka Star who numbered the 1979 Tatlow Stakes at Moonee Valley among her 22 Australian victories and she went on to leave the great Iraklis.

“He was one of our favourites,” remembers Peter of the stallion who won the NZ Cup and Miracle Mile and over $1million.

He was one of two NZ Cup winners from the Tuapeka breed, the other being Monkey King, even though he wasn’t bred on the farm he was from a mare who was.

Sakuntala’s progeny or their progeny have resulted in over 30 horses to win more than $100,000.

But good horses alone do not legends make and Father Dan was a harness racing legend.

He was ahead of his time with his website and yearling pics and as a man who commanded respect without trying.

Come sales time he would be sitting on his lawn chair outside the stables of the Tuapeka Lodge draft, a parish priest to an entire industry.

“He could be hard when he needed to be. He was very demanding,” laughed Peter.

“He liked things done the right way but we never had a cross word and neither did Julie with him.

“But he loved the horses and really enjoyed his involvement with Southern Bred Southern Reared in recent years.”

Tuapeka Lodge will continue, with younger family members keen to help Peter and Julie.

“I think we have a lovely bunch of horses to take to the sales next year,” smiles Peter.

And they will have somebody looking over them from above. A legend.

Credit: NZ Harness News, 30 Mar 2020, Michael Guerin


YEAR: 2018

The harness racing breeding industry has lost one of its giants with the shock passing of Bob McArdle.

The 76-year-old who imported so many top stallions to New Zealand through his days at Nevele R Stud died in his sleep on Wednesday night.

He is survived by his wife Denise and children Lisa and Baeden.

Few people have every contributed as much to, or for that matter accrued as much information about the Australasian breeding industry, as McArdle.

Not only was he a breeder, owner and agent but with the late Wayne Francis set up Nevele R, the stud whose footprint on the industry worldwide is enormous.

Not only did they breed hundreds of winners of thousands of races but Francis and McArdle brought the likes of Falcon Seelster, Holmes Hanover and earlier Timely Knight and El Patron to New Zealand to mention just a few. Later, through his breeding and selling business Bromac Lodge, McArdle had a huge presence at the yearling sales, with 12 from that property to be sold at the Christchurch sales in a few week and three at Karaka.

“Bob’s impact on the industry here is impossible to overstate,” says PGG Wrightson’s Peter Lagan. “What he and Wayne did at Nevele R will be felt across the industry for decades to come.

“And his knowledge of breeding in this part of the world might be the most detailed of anybody I have ever met.

“When you think of all the horses he bred, sold and was agent for he has put a lot of money in a lot of people’s hands over a very long period of time.

“He was a very smart businessman and knew what he wanted but no matter how frank a discussion or even disagreement you had with Bob, he would get over it and get down to business

“The New Zealand industry owes him a lot.”

Bob’s best horse he actually owned was probably Howard Bromac, who won an Auckland Cup and was placed in a New Zealand and Hunter Cup when trained by Kirk Larsen.

“He was maybe the best we had but Bob owned a hell of a lot of good horses,” says Larsen. “We probably trained for him for over 30 years. He would breed horses and then we would train them, sell plenty but keep some.

“Bob had great knowledge and was a businessman first when it came to the horses but he loved the good families and was very loyal to them.”

Credit: Michael Guerin writing on NZ Harness News/Harnesslink Media - January 2018


YEAR: 2018

Neil, who has been in indifferent health for some time, suffered severe back pain late in the week and was removed to hospital on Thursday. The family, including his wife, Rose were summoned on Friday evening and he passed some hours later. His last harness racing runner, Mach Up, had been a winner for Mark at Addington a few hours before. He was 80.

Neil has been closely associated with Mark's training career from the start of it.

"We had been family friends for years. Neil was in Kumeu earlier and transported the horses down south for Roy and Barry and was then in Christchurch so the association continued when I moved south" Mark said.

Neil played a key role in that stage of Mark's career as a backer, advisor and "volunteer" stable hand. In more recent times he was the man finessing the track before fast work at Rolleston and master of the kitchen for staff breaks. But he did a lot more than that. Much more.

He raced any number of successful horses, most notably the $2.5m winner Smolda and his contemporary Fly Like an Eagle as well as outstanding horses like Waikiki Beach (19 wins), Major Mark (12 NZ wins) Follow the Stars (16 wins), Classic Cullen (16 wins) Border Control (18 wins) Ohoka Dallas and Russley Rascal ) to name a few.

But he remembered with affection lesser winners of earlier days in the north of which he told many stories. And his winning tally could have been much higher but for the fact that Neil just loved "the deal" and was always prepared to sell horses for export before they reached their potential. He preferred to race with one or more partners than solo ownership though he did both,

"You always leave something in the horse for the next owner. I have always followed that and if you do it they will come back for more" he used to say and a lifetime of experience in doing deals meant he was a man to listen to.

"He was just a really good bloke and of great support to me in so many ways" Mark said

"Roy and Barry had a horse for him, I think Speedy Demo who started his racing association with our stable. He was a good friend of Peter Wolfenden in those days and Peter Young trained for him as well. He was a regular at the Kumeu track which is where we got to know him well"

"Like everyone else you always expected him to bounce back from a bout of bad health. He had done it so many times"

"It is a sad day for those of us who knew him but you are reassured by the knowledge that Pilch had done so many things in his life that he would have gone having no regrets"

Although Neil realised he was nearing the end of his life it never affected his spirit. He went to the Yearling Sales and spent $120,000 on one lot {"He was one of our owners we couldn't put a limit on !" Mark says) and more recently has invested in several new ventures including the trotter Musculus just two weeks ago in anticipation of another Harness Jewels runner. He had hoped to be at Addington Friday where he had three runners engaged and then head north for Cambridge.

It is a great sadness for Neil Pilcher's family and many friends as well as a host of associates that this time he will not be there.

Credit: NZ Harness News, 19 May 2018, courtesy of The All Stars site

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