Sadly Les Donaldson, a stalwart of Northland thoroughbred racing, passes away.
Les had an intimate knowledge and experience of everything about thoroughbred racing and breeding in Northland over many years; and for many he was the reference point about Northland racing.
Mike Beazley Chairman of the Board of the Whangarei Racing Club expressed the Club’s thoughts on the passing of ex-Chairman and Patron of the Club “Les Donaldson was a great stalwart of the Whangarei Racing Club over many years. He was on the Committee that made the significant decision in the early seventies, to move the race course from Kensington Park to its current location in Ruakaka.
He was President of the Committee from 1973 to 1995, later to become Patron of the Club when Bob Tait passed away in 2008, a position he only recently gave up due to his illness.
He was always available to assist, give good advice and act in the interests of the Club and the industry he was so passionate about, and he will be greatly missed by us all.”
Les was brought up with a family involvement in racing and he rode and trained race horses before becoming involved in the breeding and administration of the industry. Les was an important mentor for local trainer Donna Logan with her first winner being Silver Kris for Les.
Les started Totara Park Thoroughbred Stud in Glenbervie (Whangarei) in 1960’s and brought out stallions and mares from England in the 1970s, including the Irish bred Bandmaster (IRE). Totara Park stud produced the champion Uncle Remus from their sire Bandmaster and the mare Tusitala, who was owned by Les’s mother Grace.
Uncle Remus was raced by Kim Clotworthy and Grace Donaldson and proved to be an outstanding racehorse culminating by being crowned NZ horse of the year in 1977/78. The performance of Uncle Remus earned Bandmaster title of the leading stallion and Tusitala the leading broodmare for the 1978 season.
Other good horses produced at the stud include Vain Ana, Gold Strike and Little Recruit.
A funeral will be held in the chapel of Newberry's Funeral Home, 2 Moody Ave., Whau Valley, Whangarei, on Friday 2nd February 2018 at 1:30pm to be followed by private cremation. In lieu of flowers, donations made to Northland Child Cancer, PO Box 8100, Kensington, Whangarei 0145. All communication to The Donaldson Family, C/- PO Box 5116, Whangarei 0140.