Harness - News

Passing of Alex Hastie

  • Fri, 04 May 2018
  • Garrick Knight

Longtime Ashburton horseman Alex Hastie died in his hometown on Monday, aged 71.

Hastie was perhaps best known for naming his horses with the surnames of famous New Zealand sports people.

The supremely-talented Loader was one of the best of them, winning four of his seven career starts in 1999 before going amiss after injuring himself at Forbury Park in 2000.

He reared up at the start and injured an ankle, never to race again.

Timu (6 wins), Moller (4) and Anton Oliver (4) were all good winners while Davu, McCaw, Devoy, Amon, Van Dyk, Chisnall, Tuuta, Mains and Corlett were other examples of his penchant for Kiwi sporting surnames.

Loader’s older half-brother, Anton Oliver, was a horse Hastie regarded as the best he trained, but a number of leg injuries saw him only race for two seasons here – as a six-year-old and eight-year-old.

He won four races from 20 starts before Hastie, wife Pam and longtime friend and client Bill Eade sent the horse to Perth to race in 2015.

Eade was one a number of close associations Hastie forged with breeders, owners and fellow horsemen in a training career that started in 1980.

One of those was with Waikouaiti trainer Denis O’Connell, with whom he exchanged many horses over a long period.

“Alex was a very good man,” noted O’Connell.

“He passed me on some nice horses, including Terranium and Francis Dalrae.

“He had got Francis Dalrae from Don Cuttance as a pacer (in 1985) and then sent him to me, recommending I race him as a trotter.”

Hastie then drove horse to four of his nine career wins from O’Connell’s stable, offering advice along the way.

“Francis Dalrae’s win with Alex driving on Cup Day in 1988 was magnificent.

“Alex was a wonderful blacksmith and had a terrific knowledge about balancing up a horse.

“He used various weights to get them balanced.

“There’s a real art to it – it’s too technical for me – but he mastered it and was able to get the best possible results out of horses because of it.”

After initially spending six years as a jockey in the mid-1960s (five winners in the 1963/64 season his best), Hastie entered the harness game as a trainer in mid-1980.

His first was Taieri Lord at Ascot Park in December of that year and 57 more were to follow, the last of them being Tuuta at Oamaru in March 2015.

Alexander David Hastie was married to Pam for 51 years and together they had two sons, Rikke and Kelven, as well as eight grandchildren.

He was farewelled at the Ashburton Racecourse on Friday, May 4.