Reg Stockdale, who died suddenly last week aged 68, was seldom without a good horse in his Yaldhurst stable. He never went to a big team, always turned his horses out in top order, and was renowned for his attention to detail.
His first good horse was Gentry, although he was six and near the end of his career by the time he came into Stockdale's care. He won 13 races in the previous two seasons for Peter Stewart, who trained him for Bob Barry, but Stockdale won first-up with him at Auckland where he was off 48yds and beat Lucky Briton and Gaelic Prince.
He was followed by Blue Prince, who raced initially out of Davey Todd's stable and was driven by Ken Balloch before being bought by Barry. Based at Mangere then, Stockdale won five races with Blue Prince as a 5-year-old including the Allan Matson Handicap from Sun Chief and Aldora. He was still at Mangere when he won the New Zealand Derby for Barry with Student Prince, who defeated King Hal, Jay Ar and Flying Note. On the same day, False Step came from 48yds to beat Lookaway (30) and Sun Chief (12) in the Allan Matson and Moon Boy won the NZ Trotting Free-For-All from Ordeal and Au Fait.
Stewart Hanover, a roan by Garrison Hanover, won eight races in three seasons during the early 60's, and his place in the higher grades was taken by Bramble Hall, a dark brown gelding by Flying Song. Bramble Hall won 10 races, mostly driven by his former employer Maurice Holmes, who knew the big horse performed best when saved for a short, sharp sprint at the end. His major win was the Canterbury Park Free-For-All, a walk-up start which he won from Thurber Scott and Torrent.
In 1971, Stockdale won the New Zealand Oaks with the Garrison Hanover filly Shalimar who upset the favourites and beat Gay Hal and Candy Frost. That night, George Shand won with the big trotter Bambi, Doug Watts won with General Idea, Gavin Hampton won the New Brighton Cup with Radiant Globe who was off 30m, and Felix Newfield won with Blak Label.
Other good horses he trained were the trotter Southern Comfort, Lemrac, who upset one night in the wet at Addington and later ran 1:54 in the US, and Canis Minor, a big winner later in his career for Trevor Thomas.
Eulogies to the former President of the NZ Trainers' and Drivers' Association were given by Derek Jones, Jim Dalgety and Stockdale's son-in-law, Peter Jones. Stockdale is survived by his daughter Lois, son Graham, and grandchildren Phillippa and Mark Jones, Natasha and Jessica Stockdale.
Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 10May00