McNamara remembered for his great racing feats

Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
Veteran trainer Allen McNamara, right, passed away aged 79 last month.
Camera IconVeteran trainer Allen McNamara, right, passed away aged 79 last month. Credit: Laurie Benson

Champion trainer Allen McNamara Sr will long be remembered for his love of horse racing, an industry he was involved in for nearly 70 years.

After battling health problems in recent years, McNamara Sr died peacefully at Mt Barker Hospital on March 26, aged 79.

His first taste of racing came as an 11-year-old and an apprenticeship as a jockey followed before he began his career training horses.

Allen McNamara Sr with his wife, Kay.
Camera IconAllen McNamara Sr with his wife, Kay.

Based in Mornington, Victoria, McNamara Sr became the youngest trainer to saddle up a metropolitan winner at age 26 — the minimum age was 25 to get a metro licence back then.

He tasted success in some of the biggest races, including the Cup Steeple with Mast Law while also winning the 1979 Karrakatta Plate with Oaksana Boy.

Arguably his greatest achievement as a horse trainer came with Stylish Lord.

Stylish Lord was bought for $6500 as a yearling and went on to set a State-record 14 consecutive victories in the 1980s, a feat that still stands today.

McNamara Sr prepared Stylish Lord to win a Kalgoorlie Cup and also a win in Melbourne.

At age 76, he had his last official runner as a trainer — Count Kala running third in Albany.

Mercury Halo with his No.1 fan, Krystal Fabio and trainer Allen McNamara Sr.
Camera IconMercury Halo with his No.1 fan, Krystal Fabio and trainer Allen McNamara Sr. Credit: Laurie Benson

His family, including his wife Kay, paid tribute to him at a small private service last week.

Son Alan McNamara Jr said he would always have fond memories of his racing companion.

“We had some great memories in racing,” McNamara Jr said.

“At age 11, he got a taste and that was his life. He won plenty of races as an apprentice and then started training.

“He wanted to train horses and train more winners.”

When moving back to Perth, the McNamaras had a thriving stable in Oakford, where the success continued.

“He only ever said Stylish Lord was a handy horse but Phar Lap won 14 straight,” McNamara Jr said.

“We bought Stylish Lord at the yearling sales, he ran third to Rocket Racer one day, we put him in the paddock and he came back and went bang, bang, bang.

Allen McNamara Sr with Fiddle Talk.
Camera IconAllen McNamara Sr with Fiddle Talk. Credit: Rod Taylor

“He went through his classes but he still won 14 in a row, which I don’t think will ever be broken.

“Dad really liked Perth. At one stage, we had 56 in work and we had a mile grass track there in Oakford.”

Approaching 17 years since they moved to Mt Barker, Mrs McNamara said her husband left a great legacy.

“He won lots of the big races and it was the only thing he was interested in,” she said.

“He didn’t like gardening or anything else.

“He had some very good apprentices in his time; Shayne Newling rode Stylish Lord in all bar one of his 14 straight wins.

“John King, Frank Harris, Darren Haw and John Regan are some of the other apprentices, plus he had Johnny Wilson in the early days ride for him, and Roy Higgins came over to ride one day.”

Stylish Lord’s record is among elite company in Australia racing, bettered by Winx (30 wins), Black Caviar (25), Sava Jet and Miss Petty (22), Picnic In The Park (21), Shackle Bar (20), Gloaming and Desert Gold (19) and Ajax (18), Gay Lungi (17), Bernborough and Gay James (15).

Other prominent horses that were under the care of McNamara Sr included Gallant, Pilbara Law, Great Beau, Rivotio, Kid Choisir, Mercury Halo and Metallurgy.

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