Passing of Clive Herbert

By Garrick Knight

Former Auckland trainer Clive Herbert passed away last week, aged 85.

The respected conditioner, the father of former All Whites player and then coach, Ricki Herbert, had endured a short illness recently.

Herbert was perhaps best known for the time he spent training star trotter David Moss in the 1993-94 season, his wins with the giant square-gaiter including the Australian Trotting Championship and Dullard Cup in Australia as well as the National Trot at Alexandra Park and New Zealand Trotting Championship at Addington.

Maurice McKendry was the driver on all those occasions, and for many of Herbert’s 174 career training wins, by himself and in partnership with both son Ricki and now Perth-based Bob Mellsop.

The pair were reacquainted just last week and Herbert’s passing came as a surprise to McKendry.

“Tony Robb and I only went and visited Clive at his home last weekend.

“He was talking away and we had a good old yarn for a couple of hours.

“I think he really enjoyed talking about the old times.

“He actually seemed quite good health-wise and I’m shocked he’s passed less than a week later.”

Herbert was first licensed in 1980, aged 46, and his first winner, Momba Lady, came a couple of years later at Alexandra Park in 1982.

It wasn’t until the late 1980s that things really picked up with Metal Mickey, who won 13 races and contested both the Inter Dominion Grand Final and New Zealand Cup, at Addington in 1987.

Herbert eventually became renowned as a strike-rate trainer who had fashioned a good record.

“He always had a good team about him,” said McKendry.

“He loved his horses and looked after them like he wanted to be looked after himself.”

Herbert retired from training in 2001 but remained active in retirement, involving himself as a mentor at the Ricki Herbert Football Academy.

Aside from harness racing, Herbert was accomplished in many fields, perhaps most notably as a cyclist in his youth.

He was a national champion and even travelled to the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City as the manager of New Zealand’s cycling team.

“He was pretty proud of his achievements as a cyclist,” said Tony Robb.

“He was telling us how the old Papatoetoe cycling track was the slowest in the country but he still set records on it.”

Robb says when he, wife Robin and their family moved north to Auckland, Herbert made them feel exceedingly welcome.

“When we first shifted up here, we lived just down the road from him and he took us under his wing.

“It was coming up to Christmas and he invited to a big Christmas party for all of his owners.

“That started a tradition because for many years we ended up going to his place in Papakura for Christmas.”

Clive married Shirley, a former national sprinting champion, in 1955, and they stayed together for 61 years until her death in 2016.

As well as son Ricki, they also had a daughter, Debbie.

Herbert will be farewelled in a service at the Holy Trinity in Parnell on Friday, starting at 3pm.


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