Through his enthusiastic interest in harness racing and golf, Barry Cotton was well-known and widely respected in sporting circles in Canterbury and further afield.
A big man, with a personality to match, Cotton died in Christchurch on Monday after a short illness. He was born on September 30, 1939, attended St Andrew's College, and was President of the Old Boys' Association in 1984. He was a Queen's Scout, a keen and low handicap golfer at the Russley Club, and was non-playing captain of the Canterbury golf team in the mid-90s.
He played a leading role in the production of live racing from Addington on CTV, and then assisted with the establishment of SKY's Trackside channel.
In 1966 he became a member of the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club, a steward in 1983, joined the committee in 1988, Vice-President in 1994, and was joint Chairman of the amalgamated three clubs with the late John Penney from 1998 to 2004.
In 1990, he sponsored the Big Softie Inter-Dominion Trotting Championship won by Real Force with his Barda Furniture company, was a foundation member of the Caduceus Club of Canterbury, and received the MNZM for his services to golf and harness racing.
Among his numerous winners, most of whom he raced with his wife Julie and good friends Maurice and Shirley O'Leary, were Moon Princess(6 wins), Xanadu, Toliver Twist(8), Light Buffy(6), Midnight Moon(5) and Perfect Atom(4).
Mike Godber, Chief Executive of the club, said Cotton had a leadership role during the time of change when the three clubs merged. "He was an exceptional mine host whose long-term involvement in racing and golf gave him a very wide circle of friends. Barry's outgoing personality and jovial nature will be missed on the Canterbury harness racing scene," he said.
He is survived by his wife Julie, children Ann-Marie and Matt, and four grandchildren.
Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 30July08
"I have always had a philosophy that when a job is done, don't recycle," Cotton said. "I had my time, and now it's someone else's turn to step into the role. The Club is in good hands, because there is a good core there, and we have got new blood coming onto the committee and there are some astute businessmen amongst them."
Cotton has been a member of the Met for nearly 40 years, and has been involved in the administration of harness racing for the last two decades. He was Co-Chairman of the club for two years following the merger of the New Brighton, Canterbury Park and NZ Metropolitan clubs into one body, and he spent the last four years as Chairman. "It has been a great Journey," he says. "The committee has been very supportive, as has my wife Julie who hasn't missed a beat."
Cotton said he was honoured to be part of the team that handled the merger of the clubs, adding that it was done very efficiently and at no cost to the industry, and one of the most rewarding things for him during his time in office was the club's success with sponsorship. I think it is second to none. We started from scratch in the old days, and the amount of sponsorship we have attracted to the club and maintained since, is a tribute to all concerned. And of course you can't replace things like Cup Days and the Inter-Dominions, and last year's Cup was especially significant because of it being the club's centenary year. It was a great reunion and a tremendous occasion for all."
Cotton turns 65 at the end of this month, and although leaving his last remaining administration role in harness racing he has no intention of retiring business-wise. No yet anyway. "I have got some lovely little grandchildren that I want to spend time with, and we have got a few young horses with Maurice O'Leary that maybe I will finally get the chance to go and see how they are coming along."
Credit: John Robinson writing in HRWeekly 22Sep04