Doug McCormick fondly remembered

NZ HARNESS NEWS

Everyone has a Dougie McCormick story that they could tell.

Some of them might not be able to be told for fear of retribution, but there’s always been some brilliant tales around about the Mid Canterbury harness racing legend who sadly passed away last week.

A large crowd of racing identities gathered in Ashburton to bid farewell to one of the most colourful and memorable characters of the race tracks of Canterbury in the past 60 years following his passing during the middle of last week.

Survived by his wife, Shirley, McCormick was 88.

And while a sad occasion, the opportunity to tell of some of Doug’s more infamous exploits was the main topic of conversation at his funeral and many a person was seen holding aching sides as memories were shared.

A well-respected stockman and gifted handler of a horse, McCormick trained close to 100 winners in a training career which began in the early 1960s and lasted right through until he retired from training a few years ago. During that time, he also reined home close to 100 winners as well.

Best known for his ability to get a horse to run along early, McCormick could often be found in front when competing in races and the late Derek Jones once described his driving style perfectly.

“He was either in front, or heading there,” Jones said.

A number of good horses made their way through McCormick’s barn during his career – most of which he had bred himself.

Lively Wood and Able Adios both won seven races each early on in proceedings before Charlie Wood arrived and won seven races as well. Regarded by family members, and by Doug himself, as the best horse he had the dual-gaited horse had 89 starts, winning seven and placing on 17 occasions.

Perfect Du Jour joined a growing list of horses to win seven races for Doug and Gee Abby, who set a New Zealand record, managed the same feat in the late 90’s.

Others to win a number of races including Cathy Combo (four), Pretty Near Perfect (four), Light Wood (five) and Vince (four).

As well as racing, McCormick bred a number of horses initially to his own stallions which he had on his property at Westerfield, inland from Tinwald.

Most of the horses carried either the ‘Perfect’ or ‘Wood’ monikers which he carried through the decades.

McCormick had one of his most memorable nights in racing at Forbury in 2009 when three generations of his family competed in the same race on horses all trained by him.

Doug was on board Perfect For Us, his son David drove Shezadorabil and grandson, Lawrence piloted Cathy Combo with the latter pair winning the race.

Both David and Lawrence are still heavily involved in the industry and training small teams from their respective Ashburton bases. 

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