YEAR: 2004

Last weekend marked the end of an era for Roydon Lodge Stud with the death of Smooth Fella.

The son of Most Happy Fella was a flagship stallion for the Christchurch-based stud during the 1980s, and it was a solemn moment for all when he slipped away peacefully in his yard on Saturday afternoon.

"I think it is sad when any great horse like this dies," said Roydon Lodge Stud's Director Keith Gibson. "I would not say his death was expected, but we knew he was nearing the end and he hadn't served any mares for a number of seasons. He'd had a long life for such an active stallion, and a great one."

Smooth Fella made an indelible impact on the harness racing industry in this country. At last count he was the sire of 793 NZ-bred winners (787 pacers and six trotters), with 235 in 2:00, and damsire of 687 NZ-bred winners (681 pacers - 231 in 2:00; and eight trotters - one in 2:00).

Smooth Fella is the sire of 16 1:55 pacers, the fastest of them being Skip (1:51.8), Commander Paul (1:52.4) and Rainbow Fella (1:53). He is also the damsire of 57 to break this mark, the top three in this respect being Silky Pockets (nee Birthday Boy, 1:51.2), Just A Butler (1:51.4) and Valiant Heart (1:51.4).

Without question Smooth Fella's greatest son was Roydon Glen (22 wins, $463,244), who later would sire champion trotter Lyell Creek, and Smooth Fella himself also left other successful sires in former champion juvenile Tuapeka Knight, Slugger and more recently Ermis.

Smooth Fella was the leading sire of 2-year-old pacers four times, with his first three crops in 1980/81, 1981/82 and 1982/83, and then again in 1986/87; he was leading sire of 3-year-old pacers once, in the 1983/84 season; he was the leading sire of pacers once, in the 1984/85 season; and he topped the broodmare sires' list twice, in 1997/98 and then again in 2001/02. Remarkably, he is currently the leading broodmare sire for this season.

Smooth Fella had not served a mare since the 2000/01 season, but in his time at stud in NZ he covered a total of 2314 mares for 1733 live foals.

He was 31 years old at the time of his death.

Credit: John Robinson writing in HRWeekly 14Jan04

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