Bendigo bids farewell to a trotting idol

MAORI'S Idol, arguably Australia's greatest trotter, was laid to rest at the Bendigo Harness Racing Club yesterday. The winner of 40 races from 46 starts, Maori's Idol died of old age last Friday at Bill and Margaret Hanson's Homevale Stud at Fern Hill, where the 34-year-old stallion had spent the past 16 years. Throughout his race career,

spanning from 1975 to 1981 under the tutelage of Marnoo owner-trainer Ric Healy,

Maori's Idol finished out of the placings on just two occasions and won a then-trotting record of $98,821.Maori's Idol, the 1978 Australian Harness Horse of the Year, still holds the Australasian record for the longest winning streak by a trotter- 24 consecutive victories. The winning sequence came to an end in sensational circumstances at Moonee Valley when the champion finished third in the 1978 Inter Dominion Grand Final. Bill and Margaret brought Maori's Idol from Castlemaine's Noel Taylor in 1990 for breeding duties."They used to say he was a hard horse to handle, but Bill never had any problems with him," Margaret said."He had a big paddock to roam in and was as happy as Larry."Maori's Idol was put down

last Friday, just a week after his34th birthday."We have had lots of nice

stallions, but Maori has always been a legend," Margaret said."Today is a tough day for us, but we are glad he is coming here (to the Harness Racing Club) and people will know this is the spot where Maori is laid to rest."Maori's Idol was buried next to the admission gates at the Bendigo Harness Racing Club.Club president Bruce Winzar

said it was hoped a memorial would be created for Maori's Idol, who is the son of Frost and Maori Miss. "He didn't race that often at Bendigo, but from an industry

perspective, the most important thing is we create a memorial for him," Winzar said.

"We will fence the area off where Maori's Idol is buried and seek some guidance on how best to get some funding to build this memorial for him."The area where he is buried is prominent out here, so who knows, it might be a spot where tourists can drop in."Maori's Idol raced for the last time on Augustth29, 1981, winning at Moonee Valley before being retired to stud.In a long list of achievements, he also ranks as the first trotter in Australasia to break two minutes.Maori's Idol posted a 1:59.3

mile at Moonee Valley on November 19, 1977. Eight of his 40 victories were against pacers, including in two heats of the Sir Clive Uhr Championship, now known as

the Queensland Pacing Championship.After being retired, Maori's Idol spent the best part of 25years as a registered stallion. He sired 726 foals and produced 183 individual winners of $3.9million in stakes. His best performers include

the $100,000-plus earners Alabama's Idol, Kimbo, Diggers Idol and Laurie's Legacy.

Others included feature race winners Kwik Kiwi, Mighty Maori, Dashing Chief, Sparkling Eyes, Kwik Kiss and Rainbow's Idol.

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