Vale Jack Mulcay

Jack Mulcay is being remembered for his long and distinguished contribution to harness racing.

A race starter for more than a quarter of a century, Mulcay also led Harness Racing New Zealand's cadet training scheme for 16 years (1988-2004).

"The two roles he had complemented each other," says son and long-standing stipendiary steward Steve Mulcay.

Mulcay senior was just the second national director of a scheme that shaped many careers.

"He had a huge involvement in developing the talent of that time, when you think of the Dunns (Dexter and John) and Tim Williams. In fact anyone who is in their thirties now would have gone through it," says Steve Mulcay.

"The scheme covered all aspects of the industry, from bandaging horses, to tips on getting horses away from a stand, to conduct at judicial hearings."

A regular at the cadets monthly meetings for a long time was the great Jack Smolenski. In one interview Jack Mulcay talked about how the cadets loved talking to the champion trainer-driver who was associated with horses such as Royal Belmer, Speedy Guest, Giovanetto, and 1973 New Zealand Cup winner Arapaho.

"He was a man of integrity, a legendary horseman and a stickler for manners," said Mulcay of the other Jack, "he was on hand to offer any advice when it was required."

"I'll never forget when the supper bell used to ring to mark the end of the night all the cadets used to gravitate to Jack and sit there and ask him as many questions as they could - all of which he answered."

"Sometimes it would get to 12.45am and he would say "I must be getting home, busy day tomorrow'"

As a starter Jack Mulcay oversaw some of the most iconic races in the sport's history in this country.

"His first New Zealand Cup was Hands Down," says Steve Mulcay.

The 1980 version of the great races saw Hands Down prevail after an epic battle with Delightful Lady. It became part of harness racing folklore.

Mulcay was the Canterbury-based starter for 26 years until 2006, though he officiated throughout the South Island, especially on the West Coast circuit and in Nelson and Marlborough.

"He was the most honest person," says Steve, who shared his father's passion for harness racing and has been a stipendary steward both here and in Australia for 36 years, "his word was his bond."

Jack Mulcay was the oldest of six children and left the then Xavier College in Christchurch early following the death of his father. He worked for a contracting firm doing farm work to provide for the family.

In the 1970s he got his starter's licence and was an assistant to Ron Carter before taking over when he retired in 1980.

"He was part of a great crew along with the late Jimmy Murray and Mike Ryan," says Steve Mulcay.

Jack Mulcay also had a long association breeding and racing horses with Reg and Bet Curtin, such as Debbie Patron who won at Hawkes Bay in 1985.

"Dad was in the industry for a long time," says Steve, "Reg was a good friend."

He also drove horses in work and was known to drive in celebrity races at Addington with high profile media personalities at the time like Dave McCarthy and Dave Cannan.

"Dad loved people and interacting with them ....he was a very good father and I have nothing but fond memories."

Jack Mulcay was 87.

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