Vale Peter Bagrie

As a driver, trainer and breeder, Peter Bagrie left a huge imprint on harness racing.

After a more than 50 year involvement in the sport he died last week, after a battle with cancer.

Among his many achievements :

In 1978 he drove Gentle George to win four times during New Zealand Cup week, one of only three times it has ever happened.
He bought and then sold The Mighty Quinn, who would go on to win over $4.5m in stake money.
He was a Group 1 winning trainer, with Burlington Bertie in the 1995 Auckland Cup and Bettor's Heart in the 2020 Ladyship Mile at Menangle.

Bill and Elaine Bagrie's three children (Peter, Shelley and Rose) all had strong connections with the sport, with Shelley marrying Henderson Hunter (of Trusty Scot fame) while Rose was married to now three-time champion trainer Robert Dunn.

"I knew him when I came to Christchurch as a 16-year-old he was one of the first people I met," says Robert Dunn.

"All the stablehands and a lot of trainers met on a monthly basis at the old tea kiosk at Addington. It was called the Stroppers' Club and we'd play snooker and indoor bowls and finish the night with some housie!"

"You just could not meet a nicer bloke," says Dunn, "he had a wonderful nature, was a great horseman and a wonderful brother-in- law - and was one out of the box really."

The Bagrie family was from farming stock in Southland and moved to Canterbury in the 1950s when Peter was only little.

Bill decided to get into racing, and went to the sales and bought Margaret Hall. Among her progeny were Kinsella (7 wins) and the champion Orbiter (17 wins), who won a Hannon Memorial and was second to Cairnbrae in the 1964 New Zealand Cup.

Orbiter's subsequent sale to North America financed the family farm at Ohoka in North Canterbury. Tom Bagrie is the third generation of the family to train from the property.

Peter drove mainly for his dad Bill, with the first of his 50 wins coming with Laura at Roxburgh in 1971.

The sport took him to America on at least three occasions, working for the likes of Charlie Hunter and Brian Meale. The first trip there was in 1972.

In the mid 1970s he had an extended stay in the USA, working on the east coast at Shafter in California before heading to Chicago to work for noted trainer/driver and entrepreneur George Shaw.

One of Bagrie's biggest successes came in 1978 during New Zealand Cup week. In those days the carnival was spread over four meetings and Bagrie won on all four occasions with Gentle George, trained by his father.

The feat has only been achieved three times, the other two being the great Cardigan Bay in 1963 and the trotter Tutira in 1969.

Eventually Peter branched out into training and breeding. His first training success was with Dalrae Star in 1984.

His broodmare gem was Valiant Heart who won four races in NZ, 10 in Victoria and 19 in America before producing progeny that included Bettor's Heart.

Among her 23 wins was the 2020 Group 1 Ladyship Mile at Menangle in 1:49.7 when she came from last to win for driver John Dunn.

Bagrie also trained Burlington Bertie. Among his marquee wins were the Auckland Cup, the Hannon Memorial and the Ashburton Flying Stakes in 1995. He ended up winning 14 from 80 starts while Field Officer, which Peter and Anne Bagrie bred, won 12 from 83.

In 2006 Bagrie would get involved with one of the all-time greats, Themightyquinn.

After failing to sell in the ring Bagrie snapped the horse up for $13,000. He trained him for his first 27 starts, including six wins. He was then sold to clients of Western Australian trainer Gary Hall Sr for $180,000.

Im Themightyquinn, as he became known, went on to record 58 wins from 111 starts, accrue over $4.5m in stakes and become a three-time Australian Horse of the Year.

In 2018 Bagrie experienced serious health problems, with doctors removing a tumour from his brain.

In the last few years he made a good recovery, only to fall ill again relatively recently.

"It's shocked us how quickly things have happened," says Robert Dunn.

"He was very well liked and he'll get a great send off which he deserves."

Peter Bagrie was 72.

A service to celebrate Peter's life will be held at Addington Raceway and Events Centre (Silks Lounge), 75 Jack Hinton Drive, Addington, on Thursday, March 7, at 3.30pm



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