He Will Be Sadly Missed

Date: 29 Feb 2024

He Will Be Sadly Missed

David writes:

I was really saddened to read that racing journalist Dave Bradford had passed away.

I clearly remember some 15 years ago going in to the press room at Trentham on Wellington Cup Day.  There would have been around 20 journalists, writers and photographers on course covering the day's racing.

How times have changed! This year there might have been?  Two or three?  last Saturday's Matamata meeting, possibly two?

The New Zealand Herald used to have five full-time racing writers - three for the galloping code and two for the harness - yes full-time!  

In Auckland every night you had the Auckland Star on Mondays to Fridays and on Saturday night there was the 8 p.m. edition. The publication was available in every dairy in the Auckland and Waikato regions and David Bradford and John Costello wrote on a full-time basis for this newspaper covering the thoroughbred industry, while Ron Bisman covered the harness industry for the same newspaper.

Last year a sales person from the Waikato Times rang me to ask why I hadn't renewed my subscription (in fact that had happened some years prior) - I told them the reason was that they no loggerhead any racing coverage of any significant at all.  

This is appalling when you consider what the racing and industries contribute to the Waikato economy in particular, the industries are a crucial employer of thousands and thousands of people both directly and indirectly.

What a pity this region's main publication doesn't understand or appreciate what a major influence racing and breeding has on the economic health and well-being of the Waikato.  

The person did offer me three months of getting the newspaper free, to which I replied I only bought the paper to read about racing and the equine industry so 'no thank you'.

I know times have moved on and at least we are fortunate to still have Raceform (which has incidentally just arrived in my office) - but that is only due to the huge passion and determination a couple of individuals possessed to make this happen - and the handful of sponsors, including Te Akau, that have supported their endeavours.

We are also lucky I know that in this digital age, we can jump on line and find all sorts of industry information (and some mis-information too)!  TTR and ANZ News in particular do a terrific job - but we list a golden era and Dave Bradford's passing has made many, including me, reflect.

Dave Bradford was an outstanding journalist as well as human being - he mentored many young, aspiring writers such as Aidan Rodley.  

In my office I have the 1972 Racing Annual - this edition covered my first day ever at Te Rapa when the legendary Lester Piggott rode the winner of the race that is now known as the Group 1 Herbie Dyke Stakes - in those days it was called the International Stakes and attracted leading riders from all over the globe.  That day a horse called Game, ridden by the great Roy Higgins, was runner up.

Karyn and I, together with the whole Te Akau team, send our condolences to the family of Dave Bradford - Rest in Peace great man.

Racing writer Tim Barton recalls:

The first running of the International Stakes - now known as the Herbie Dyke – at Te Rapa in 1970, featured a group of leading Australian riders, including Peter Cook, Harry White, Mel Schumacher, Midge Didham, Darby McCarthy and John Stocker.

The equine contenders included Game, Il Tempo, Bardall, Mayo Gold, Kalgoorlie, Honey Belle and three-year-old Far Time, who won the 2200m race in what was claimed to be a world record time.

It was an impressive debut for the weight-for-age feature, but even bigger stars were attracted for the second running, two years later. The Waikato RC reached for the sky and attracted Englishman Lester Piggott, who was universally regarded as the world’s premier jockey, along with champion Australian rider Roy Higgins.

The mounts were allocated by ballot and Piggott, who was having his first ride in New Zealand, had the mount on top mare Sailing Home, who started favourite, with Higgins on Game, a renowned weight-for-age performer. The race had a perfect climax, with Sailing Home beating Game by a neck, in an enthralling finish.

Piggott made another appearance in New Zealand in 1980, at the age of 44, and provided the star turn on New Zealand Stakes day at Ellerslie, with four wins and a second from six rides, including a nose victory in the big race, on Arbre Chene.

The International Stakes ceased to be an invited riders’ race from 1977 but has continued to attract quality horses, though it did not gain Group I status till 1992.


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