Fitting farewell today for Ian Dobson

How fitting it is that Ian Dobson's life will be celebrated at the Christian Cullen Lounge at Addington Raceway today.

The man, known by all as "Dobbie", died on his 90th birthday on Monday.

At 10.30am his extraordinary life will be celebrated, with the harness racing community expected to turn out in big numbers.

Dobson’s death brings to a close one of the most spectacular ownership chapters in harness racing - he won 385 races in New Zealand alone, with 73 individual winners, including 31 at the very highest Group 1 level.

He will forever be associated with the great Christian Cullen, a millionaire on the track who went on to become a sensational sire. In the 2015-16 season he was retired from stud as the sire of 1250 winners, including five millionaires. He also sired 2005 New Zealand Cup winner Mainland Banner.

The winner of 22 races, among Christian Cullen's greatest successes were as a four year old when he was unbeaten. His successes included the 1998 New Zealand Cup and the Miracle Mile in a track record.

Dobson was born during the depression and was reared by foster parents in New Brighton. Early in his working life he was a plumber - reportedly living off 10 per cent of his income and saving the rest - before moving into buying property.

His first horse was Jam Cover in the 1980s and he would go on to own or part own around 100 horses. Included in his portfolio were some absolute superstars, with his first Group 1 winner being Spirit of Zeus in 1985.

At Grand Prix day last December he was the toast of Addington after three of his best - Akuta, Don't Stop Dreaming and Muscle Mountain - achieved a remarkable Group 1-winning treble.

In a February interview before cleaning up at the annual harness racing awards, Dobson said "the horses keep me going. I’m having a bit of fun and I don’t think I’ve ever had such a good run."

And just last Friday, with ailing health preventing Dobson from making it to Addington, all three went so close to another treble, with Akuta and Don't Stop Dreaming winning, and Muscle Mountain finishing second to Oscar Bonavena in the Canterbury Park Trotting Cup.

In November Akuta, the $2.20 favourite for the New Zealand Cup, Muscle Mountain, the second favourite for the Dominion, and Don't Stop Dreaming in the Junior Free All could once again see Dobson's name to the fore.

Today he will be taken for a final lap of the track where he has had so much success before being laid to rest.

He is survived by his partner Janice, son Stuart, daughter Lynne, four grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.


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