Great start to a Promising Year for McLaren

Don McLaren, a Companion of the New Zealand Order Of Merit on this year’s New Year honours’ list, could not have asked for a better start to 2014 and he’s already looking towards more highlights.

It is the second time McLaren (80) has received a Queen’s honour, having been awarded the ONZM for his services to animal health and the racing industry in 2000.

As with the ONZM 14 years ago, McLaren sees his latest honour as recognition for both the veterinary and racing industries of New Zealand. “There has been a lot of effort gone into research in the veterinary field in this country and I’m so passionate about racing,” said McLaren.

McLaren is also passionate about the NZ Racing Hall Of Fame (NZRHOF), of which he was a founding director of the organisation and is currently the Patron. He is looking forward to the NZRHOF inductee gala dinner to be held at SKYCITY Hamilton on February 7.

“The Hall Of Fame is so important and it’s always exciting to see the new inductees,” he said. “If you don’t recognise the heroes of the past, it’s very hard to go forward.

“It’s so easy to forget the thrills the horses and people have produced over the years if they’re not recognised in this way. And it’s great to hear the stories of their contributions to racing and what racing has done for them.”

This will be the fifth intake into the NZ Racing Hall Of Fame and the selection of 10 new inductees will be divided between horses and people to go alongside such names as Bill Sanders, Brian Anderton, Jim Gibbs, Brent Thomson, Dr Alex McGregor-Grant, Graeme Rogerson, Bart Cummings and Jim Ellis who were all inducted in 2012.

McLaren has backed up his role as Patron of the NZRHOF with a $250,000 investment fund, which he started a couple of years ago, to benefit the NZRHOF. And he also established a separate $750,000 Don McLaren Fellowship Fund, an investment fund from which dividends will be directed to the NZ Veterinary Association and the country’s equine veterinary surgeons to fund continuing education.

“It’s a way of doing something so that both bodies can benefit every year,” said McLaren. “I spent 50-odd years of my life serving the Veterinary Association with Bomac products and this is a way of giving back to those who helped me make it in the first place.”

McLaren was the founder and owner of the NZ veterinary pharmaceutical company, Bomac Laboratories, which he set up in 1958 and was sold in February 2011 to Bayer.

In 2012 McLaren became the first non-veterinarian elected as an Honourary Life Member of the Equine branch of the NZ Veterinary Association and 10 years earlier he was elected as an inductee of the NBR Business Hall Of Fame. He is also a past Chairman of the Auckland Racing Club and NZ Thoroughbred Marketing, further demonstrating his love of racing.

McLaren established Northfields Stud, a boutique thoroughbred nursery which is the home to a host of well-bred broodmares and young horses.

Seven of those youngsters add to the promise of a very exciting month ahead for him as they are being prepared by Haunui Farm for the Premier Session of the National Yearling Sales at Karaka, while a Fastnet Rock sister to the Gr. 1 Rosehill Guineas winner Zabrasive is set to go to the Sydney Easter Yearling Sales.

“It’s a fantastic draft, the best I’ve ever had,” he said.

.McLaren’s highlight as a breeder through the sale ring came at the 2007 Sydney Easter Yearling Sales when he sold an Elusive Quality – Blue Quail colt for A$1.4 million.

“I’ve also bred seven Group One winners so I’ve had a bit of luck,” said McLaren.

“I’ve done well selling my horses at the sales and I’ve had a lot of run racing them. It all keeps me going.”