Day At The Track

Otago trainer-driver Ali Malcolmson dies

11:15 AM 17 Sep 2019 NZST
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By Jonny Turner

Otago harness racing lost one of its most successful trainers and drivers when Ali Malcolmson died in Dunedin on Sunday, aged 80.

The Tomahawk horseman was a high achiever in his home province and in big races on the national stage during his career of more than 50 years.

Malcolmson gained his first win training and driving win at Ascot Park in 1968.

He went on to 319 races as a trainer and 399 races as a driver. 

101 of the horseman’s training victories came at Forbury Park.

Malcolmson scored his first victory there with Treasure Girl in 1972.

He was involved in the trialling of horses while lights were being established at the venue at that time.

Malcolmson’s last victory on his home track came in 2017 with Mr Majestic.

His last victory as a driver came at Forbury Park with French Desire in 2014.

Forbury Park Trotting Club board member, Marty Denton, said Malcolmson had a made a massive impact on the club.

Malcolmson was a highly talented and respected horseman and the pair had become friends during their involvement in the industry, Denton said.

By 1978, Malcolmson had risen to competing on the national stage with open class trotter Our One.

Three years later, Vita Man has the trainer-driver in the national limelight again.

Vita Man won the 1981 Flying Stakes at Addington and ran second in the Great Northern Derby.

That earned Malcolmson one of two trips he made campaigning horses in Australia.

Malcolmson also produced Vita Man to win the Ashburton Flying Stakes, who beat that year's New Zealand Cup winner, Bonnie's Chance, by more than six lengths.

Malcolmson also competed in some of New Zealand’s best races with Beau’s Delight, Stormy Fella and Matthew Lee.

The horseman drove those horses and many others in group and listed events.

Malcolmson combined with Forbury Park trainer, Kevin Court, to win the 1989 Sapling Stakes and the 1990 Southern Supremacy Stakes with Seafield Inca.

He also won the 1991 Kindergarten Stakes with Rarest for trainers Henry Skinner and Alan Devery.

Otago-Southland Trainers And Drivers Association president, Geoff Knight, said Malcolmson would be remembered as a talented and humble trainer.

“He was an absolute legend of his time.”

“He was a great man that achieved a lot in the industry and did a lot for racing in Otago and at Forbury Park.”

“He prepared a lot of good horses in his time and he was a very good trainer.”

Malcolmson was a fierce competitor on the track, but away from it he was highly respected.

“He was an absolute gentleman off the track and had the respect of all of the local trainers and drivers,” Knight said.

 Most recently, the trainer-driver had trained a small team of his own horses at his Tomahawk stable.

Malcolmson’s funeral will be held in Dunedin on Friday.

Reprinted with permission of Harness Racing New Zealand

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