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R TOWNLEY: Trainer/Driver


The death occured in Timaru last week of Mr Robert Townley, one of the best known trainers and drivers in Canterbury over a long period extending from 1920 to 1944. He was 85. Mr Townley turned out winners consistently season after season during that period, and built up a fine reputation as a judge of pace, winning many races by going to the front at the start and staying there.

'Bob' Townley came from Warepa in South Otago, and for some years was the leading horseman at country meetings in the Clutha district. More than once he scored a treble at Clutha races, on one occasion winning three times on his own horse, Last Ensign. He gained what might have been his first trotting success at Balclutha on Lady Nelson about 1920. He tried his luck in an amateur's race at Forbury Park with Moving Picture and although beaten, received the stake because the rider of the first horse was ineligible. Soon afterwards he made a trip to Canterbury and won with Moving Picture at Ashburton. As a result of the trip Bob moved his family to Winchester and he later transferred to Washdyke.

One of the best horses trained by Townley was Dusky Sound with whom he attempted to win the 1940 NZ Cup practically from end to end only to be run down in the last few yards by Marlene. Other good pacers trained by Townley included Warepah, Girvan and Nor' Wester.

Townley's training methods were considered unorthodox compared with those of other trainers. His horses were jogged twice a day, in the morning and in the afternoon. This method bought results however, and he enjoyed outstanding success with trotters of all breeds, shapes and sizes. High class trotters trained by him were Engagement, Louis Bingen and All Peters and others in Gracie Fields and Reta's Own.

Mr Townley held a horseman's licence until the end of 1944 when the NZ Trotting Conference introduced a rule preventing drivers taking part in races after reaching the age of 65. Mr Freeman Holmes and the late James Bryce retired on the same day.

Mr Townley is survived by his wife, five daughters and five sons.

Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 13Jan60

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