Mike Stratford Obituary

Bruce Negus says he had an understanding with Mike Stratford: “He didn’t tell me how to train, and I didn’t tell him how to build.”

The pair had known each for 35 years, with the Canterbury-based trainer saddened to hear of his friend’s death this week.

“He was a character,” said Negus, ”He enjoyed it when we pointed out his failures.”

“His legacy will be that he was the world’s best loser – and what I mean by that was that when he did lose he was incredibly gracious about it.”

“He always looked for the good in a bad result.”

He had been an administrator, owner, and driver and a prolific breeder.

“He would have bred and owned 200 horses over the years,” said Negus, “ He’d load up 10-15 mares onto the truck and take them to stud every year.”

In 2006 his Classiebawn stud, that his late father Bernie set up, sold Cloncullen (Christian Cullen – Abbeyshrule) for $125,000 at the sales.

The best horse he ever bred was open class pacer Locharburn (Christian Cullen – Suzys Delight), who went on to win 14 from 39 starts and $418,584 for trainer Kevin Chapman.

As a trainer his record was two wins in 120 starts – Supreme Estella at Roxburgh in 2014 and Classie Regal in 2017 while as an amateur driver he had four wins in 142 starts dating back to 2009.

Stratford was prominent in business as well as harness racing.

His company Michael Stratford Builders had been involved in many developments, including a recent $3m complex in Riccarton.

“He had a real eye for detail … he could be hard nosed but in business sometimes you have to be. “

His last drive was at Addington as recently as last Sunday.

Michael Joseph Stratford was 67.


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