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  • Provincial Racing NSW


RETIRING legendary Gosford trainer ALBERT STAPLEFORD was feted by his home club at a special function at The Entertainment Grounds yesterday on the eve of his retirement.

Family members, close friends and fellow trainers were there – along with former Gosford Race Club chief executive and now Clarence River Jockey Club boss Michael Beattie – to toast 93-year-old Stapleford’s outstanding seven decades plus career during which he trained 501 winners.

Gosford Race Club hosted the function in the Directors’ Room, with director Reg Delaney the master of ceremonies.

Stapleford, New South Wales’ oldest trainer, has decided not to renew his licence in the new season, which begins on August 1.

“Gosford wanted to acknowledge not only Albert’s longevity and success as a trainer, but also the magnificent contribution he has made to the racing industry,” Delaney said.

“The club had a commemorative racebook printed, and it was a really enjoyable day for all.

“We presented a montage of photos and stories (which included his first winner, his first city winner and his 500thwinner) to Albert in the enclosure after the third race, and then adjourned back upstairs to the Directors’ Room.

“I made a speech congratulating Albert on his career, and Michael Beattie followed up by mentioning that in his time at the club, Albert had a number of really good horses, including Magic Albert, which helped put Gosford on the national racing map.”

Stapleford, fittingly, achieved a great milestone on his home track on January 25 when Dissenter (Tyler Schiller) won a 2600m Benchmark 64 Handicap, providing him with his 500th winner.

Not that he needed to prove anything further to anyone given his unquestioned skill with a horse, but he brought the mare back to 2100m in a similar class race a week later at Gosford, and with talented apprentice Schiller again on board, up came win no 501.

Dissenter, a six-year-old mare, was retired after finishing seventh over 2400m at Warwick Farm on February 22.

Stapleford was born in Phar Lap’s Melbourne Cup year (1930), and grew up at Millfield, near Cessnock in the Lower Hunter Valley.

Whilst he was apprenticed in Sydney in 1944, he grew rather quickly and, with a riding career impossible, headed back home the following year and began work at the famous Segenhoe Stud.

Stapleford could not have wished for a better beginning to his training career at 17 years of age, winning a Muswellbrook Maiden with his debut starter Renmark.

His last runner was the rising five-year-old mare Toldyas I’m Lucky, who ran eighth as a $26 chance on the Beaumont track last Monday in a Benchmark 58 Handicap (1150m) against her own sex last Monday.

Stapleford had terrific success with a horse named after him, the now deceased stallion Magic Albert, who won seven of his 13 starts, including the Group 2 Peter Pan Stakes at Rosehill Gardens and Group 3 Spring Stakes at Newcastle’s Broadmeadow racetrack in 2001, defeating Viscount, who had taken the Royal Randwick Group 1 two-year-old double (Sires and Champagne Stakes) earlier that year and subsequently won the Group 1 George Main Stakes at Randwick before finishing third in Northerly’s Group 1 Cox Plate the same year.

*Words John Curtis, June 23, 2023 - Pics supplied*

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