Trainer’s bond with old horse

End of 25-year rac­ing jour­ney for bonded pair

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - NEWS - Karolin MacGre­gor news@ru­ral­weekly.com

WITH a com­bined age of 112, David Mace and his horse, Steven, share a unique bond.

For the past 25 years the pair have worked to­gether at pac­ing club race meet­ings.

Mr Mace, 80, and 32-year-old Steven of­fi­cially re­tired from duty last week.

It is hard to know which one will miss it the most.

“He ab­so­lutely loved go­ing to races,” Mr Mace said.

“As soon as the float was there he was in a hurry to get on.

“It’ll take a long time, es­pe­cially when the week­ends come around.

“I’ll go to get up and go to work but I've just got to re­alise we’re both hav­ing a big spell.”

Steven, a thor­ough­bred, started out as a race­horse him­self and was trained by John­nie Richard­son.

“He had 22 starts and didn’t win a race,” he said.

“He al­ways trained well enough to win but when he got to the races they couldn’t con­trol him, he used to bolt.

“I’d heard they were go­ing to re­tire him and I was hop­ing I could get him.

“One day they turned up

here and he was in the truck. I was so happy.”

Steven came to live with Mr Mace at West­bury when he was seven.

After train­ing with Mr Mace’s daugh­ter, Toni Laugher, and her hus­band, Michael, they started du­ties as clerk of the course and worked at clubs in­clud­ing Burnie, Ulver­stone, Devon­port, Car­rick, Scotts­dale, St Marys and Launce­s­ton.

“He’s done a lot of miles over the years,” he said.

As clerk of the course, part of Mr Mace’s job was to catch horses that were out of con­trol or had been in­volved in a buggy ac­ci­dent and got loose.

“The main thing you need is a horse that has con­fi­dence and he has plenty of that,” Mr Mace said.

“I could go out there and

❝I’m go­ing to keep go­ing for an­other 10 years. I will only be 90 then. — David Mace

con­cen­trate on catch­ing the horse with­out hav­ing to worry about Steven, he knows his job.

“We’ve caught horses with smashed-up bug­gies.

“If a driver is caught up in one, you have to act pretty quickly.”

Steven had a plaque

in­stalled in his sta­ble at the Launce­s­ton Pac­ing Club recog­nis­ing his achieve­ments.

Mr Mace has been work­ing as clerk of the course for 50 years.

His love of horses started when he was just three and he used to climb on gates and get on ponies’ backs.

At 10 years old, he went to work at a lead­ing pac­ing sta­ble in Mel­bourne.

While he would miss the work, Mr Mace said it would be nice to en­joy more of the so­cial side of rac­ing and the clubs too.

Now he is re­tired, Steven will live in a big pad­dock with

lots of grass, be rugged to keep him warm and fed twice a day.

Mr Mace, who owns and trains some of his own pac­ers, has no plans to slow down.

“I’m go­ing to keep go­ing for an­other 10 years,” he said.

“I’ll only be 90 then.”

PHOTO: CHRIS KIDD

SPE­CIAL BOND: David Mace 82 with his thor­ough­bred horse Steven 32 at West­bury.

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