Harness - News

Bill Darrah passes away, aged 96

  • Mon, 14 Aug 2017
  • NZ Harness News - Garrick Knight

Thames horseman Bill Darrah passed away on Thursday, surrounded by his family.

According to a death notice published in the New Zealand Herald, his wife of 76 years, Eva, died 16 hours earlier, also surrounded by family.

Darrah trained horses until aged 94 and his last runner to the races was Awa Cathrine in February 2015.

Interestingly, he didn't enter the racing industry until he was 70, when he purchased the Count Bay mare Elizabeth Bay from Charlie Hunter in 1990.

She won eight races and got through to open company for him, before leaving five winners at stud.

The best of them was 10-race winner Iwi Alex ($107,511), who Darrah trained to place twice at Group 2 level, including the $40,000 City Of Sails Free For All at Alexandra Park in 2006.

All told, Darrah trained 16 winners, 14 of them trotters, and did so on an absurdly-small 300-metre track on a block of land in Kopu, just outside Thames.

Bill grew up in Wharepoa, on the Hauraki plains, before moving to the coastal Coromandel town of Tairua in 1938, where he met Eva.

They married in Thames in 1941 and, after a short stint in the army where he was based in Pukeohe and Warkworth, Bill returned to farming, initially on Eva’s family farm in Tairua.

They soon after moved to the Hauraki town of Turua, near Thames, and farmed on Bill’s father’s land.

They stayed there for the best part of 40 years and raised six children, their brood eventually growing to include 21 grandchildren, 27 great grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren.

Private cremations of both Bill and Eva were held soon after their passing, in accordance with their wishes.