Mark had mixed emotions as he farewelled Ian Dobson following the veteran owner’s death in Christchurch on his 90th birthday.

“It’s sad that he’s gone but on the other hand he had a wonderful life and the last part might not have been the best part. He was a wonderful man as well and he had a lot of success but he was always easy to train for and knew how to win and how to lose. I will miss him”

“Dobbie” held a special place in Mark’s history.He was one of the two first outside owners to put horses in the stable when it first  moved to the South Island in 2001.The other, Phil Creighton, is also still with Purdon Racing.

“He asked me to buy a yearling for him and it turned out to be Idancedallnight who was a good winner.He then had Joyfuljoy (Harness Jewels and Pascoe Great Northern Oaks ) and Mighty Cullen his best horse with us until Akuta and Don’t Stop Dreaming“

“Ian was breeding more then and he wanted me to have shares in the horses, an offer which I declined.That was when he went to Brendon Hill”

“There was never any ill feeling over that. It was a business decision and Ian understood that.He stayed in touch and of course he became a partner in Akuta and Don’t Stop Dreaming the best I have had for him. In both cases there had been a hiccup with other potential owners,I was in a difficult position  and he stepped in without hesitating. He was a man of his word.

Once the horses were in work he left the decisions to me. He had preferences but didn’t interfere.A trainer’s dream client really”

With  those two pacers,trotter Muscle Mountain and others Dobbie was at the top of the owner’s tree going on 90-surely  proof of his stature and endurance in one of the toughest businesses about.

His first winner was the diminutive Jam Cover-Ian, a former qualified plumber named her after an early business project- and trained by Mike De Filippi for Dobbie and long time associate Mike Fenton.

 Ian quickly widened his harness horizons and sealed his reputation with Christian Cullen one of the two best pacers of the modern age. It is doubtful if Ian gained much reward for the huge move of sending Christian Cullen to the stud in America -he told me once  he thought he broke even-but that was part of his wider  view of the industry. There was  Mainland Banner with the Dunn stable and another NZ Cup. He may have missed another by a matter of weeks.And another, perhaps, in 12 months.

Known as a proud but matter of fact winner his ability to absorb disappointment at being beaten was conditioned by the outstanding galloper Royal Creation he raced with a group of fellow Russley golf members (Dobbie was a scratch handicapper) and racing fans with trainer Ray Pankhurst.

Royal Creation was outstanding but holds the Australian record for never having won a Group race on either side of the Tasman but with an amazing list of  2nd placings in major Australian races (seven) four of them in Group Ones against some of the most  famous rivals of the era. All were by less than a length,many of them necks and heads. That can temper the enthusiasm when you finally strike Group One gold.

Dobbie,like all successful people in racing and out of it, had his critics. Yet the writer’s experiences with him always produced honest answers about the thoughts behind his decisions. In a game where disappointments always outweigh triumphs the Ian Dobson view remained positive, while his care of his wife Doreen in her declining years was typical of the man. In recent times his companion and rock,Janice,was treated with equal class.

“I remember him as a fine man. He did it his way but he would usually be on your side once you did business. I cannot speak too highly of Ian” Mark said.

As one champion to another,its a memorial Dobbie would have truly appreciated

Pic; Ian and partner Janice in one of his last appearances in the winner circle with Don’t Stop Dreaming at Addington 




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