Success in a lifetime is built around achievements and for Gerald Fell one of his proudest accomplishments will be on show again on Friday evening in Hamilton.
Fell (77) was one of the small group of dedicated racing enthusiasts who were instrumental in forming the New Zealand Racing Hall Of Fame (NZRHOF), of which he became the inaugural Chairman. The seventh biennial inductee function is being held at the Skycity Hamilton on the eve of a premier day’s racing at Te Rapa.
New Zealand’s Racing Hall Of Fame was established after Fell and the current NZRHOF Chairman, Chris Luoni, were in Adelaide in 2003 and attended the annual Australian Racing Hall Of Fame dinner, which had first been staged two years earlier.
“It was a wake-up call,” said Fell, part-owner of Fairdale Stud (New Zealand’s oldest family-owned commercial thoroughbred stud). “Chris and I felt some of the history of New Zealand racing would be lost if something wasn’t done here.
“I had just retired from the (NZ) Thoroughbred Racing Board and knew the people who could help to get it established here. I did some shoulder-tapping, picking on people who a: wanted to preserve the history, and b: would have an input.
“It’s been a team effort and we couldn’t have done it without the initial backing and the ongoing support of our sponsors.”
Another nine inducteees (Brookby Song, O’Reilly, Might And Power, Veandercross, Sir Woolf Fisher, Murray Baker, Tod Hewitt, Noel Harris and Chris Waller) will be added to the NZRHOF list on Friday evening, taking the total since its inception in 2006 to 75.
The induction of Waller, the champion Sydney trainer, is special to Fell as he and his late brother, Rex, supported him when he started training in Foxton and also when he first tried his luck in Sydney with just a couple of horses.
Waller’s first runner when “testing the water” in Sydney in August 1998 was Party Belle, an Oregon mare raced by Fairdale Stud. She went through from a maiden to win three on end then returned the following May and completed another hat trick of wins.
As well as recognising the major achievers through the NZRHOF, Fell has also been the recipient of awards for his own achievements.
In 2008 he was made a Member of the NZ Order of Merit for his services to racing and breeding, which include helping form and be the inaugural 2002 chairman of RACE Incorporated (the partnership of lower North Island racing clubs), holding roles within NZ Thoroughbred Racing, the NZ Thoroughbred Breeders Association and the NZ Racing Conference as well as continuing Fairdale Stud’s success.
In 2016, at the NZTR Racing Awards dinner, he accepted the award for Outstanding Contribution to Racing on behalf of himself and his brother, Rex, who lost his brave battle with cancer four months earlier.
The Fell brothers were born into racing and while Rex’s twin, Tony, carried on the farming side of the Fell tradition, Gerald and Rex took up the challenge to continue Fairdale Stud, which had been established in the Manawatu plains by their father, Arthur, in 1949.
Arthur Fell made Fairdale Stud a household name in the breeding and racing industry through the incredible success of Pakistan II.
“Tauloch was the first sire Dad stood then Pakistan II came along and put us all where we are today,” Fell said.
By Wally O'Hearn