Michelle Saba pays tribute to Brian ‘Molly’ Mollet who passed away last month.
A packed-out memorial service was held for Brian Maurice Mollet on Sunday May 14 in The Oaks Lounge at Pukekohe Park, following his passing on April 30th.
It was a moving afternoon with lots of stories told about a much-loved character.
Pukekohe Park was a fitting venue for ‘Molly’, as he was known to his friends, as he contributed a good 10 years of service to the then Counties Racing Club as a steward and a committee man before being made a Life Member of the Club.
He was also a Life Member of the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association and a founding member of the Auckland branch. It was Molly that persuaded me to join the Auckland branch Committee back in the 90s and encouraged me to join the council a few years ago.
To me he was a friend, a neighbour, a mentor, and a genuine good bloke who was very generous with his time and knowledge. He would never hesitate if you needed to find a mate for a weanling, a lamb for calf club day, or a ride to the races. Molly was always happy to help.
He was a great storyteller, especially over a drink or two, and I learned so much about our industry and the people in it from conversations with Molly, especially on our journeys to and from NZTBA meetings. He was passionate about the industry right to the end and during our last conversation we talked about the great Group One success of New Zealand-bred horses in Australia this season.
I was only privileged enough to know him for the last 36 years, and when we met Molly was the proprietor of Progressive Farm, the first stud farm established in Karaka in 1983. Prior to that he had been a full-time stock buyer and living with his wife Lynne and children Anna, Rachel and Richard on a 25-acre block on the outskirts of Papakura. Progressive Farm was home to Kirrama, McGinty, Auk, Sheer Bravado and Crossways.
He was born in Otahuhu on the 30th of November 1937 and the eldest child of Mac and Trixie Mollet. Two years later his twin sisters Yvonne and Leone were born.
He attended Fairburn Primary School, then Otahuhu College but left school at 15 to train as a stock buyer with Fletchers. He also undertook compulsory military training in 1955, and for a time worked in Cambridge for Bob Morris who was to become a lifelong friend until he passed in 2019.
Horses had always been a part of Molly’s life. As a 12-year-old he would bike to Papatoetoe to mow lawns for Ngaire Gillies for 5 shillings a week. She would let him ride her horse to the hunt meet, but he wasn’t old enough to join so he would run along behind and then ride the horse back to Papatoetoe before riding his bike home to Otahuhu.
He joined the Hunt at 14 and his contribution to the club was immense. He joined the committee in 1967 and he served as deputy master under his good mate Ray Coles from 1977 until 1989, before sharing the Master role with him for two years before he served alone from 1993. He also worked with Ray Coles as a clerk of the course, a role he maintained for around 30 years. Many a wide-eyed child has had their interest in horses piqued by the resplendent red coats at Ellerslie and Brian and Ray were always happy to chat and let the fans pat their horses.
One of things that Brian was most proud when he was Master of the Hunt, was abolishing the minimum age for children who wanted to join. He believed that the age limit imposed on children led them to take up eventing and they never went back to hunting. His philosophy was that with hunting they got the cross-country experience on the hunt field and that made them better eventers.
In 2015, following the death of his good friend Sir Pat Eisdell Moore, Brian was made Patron of the Pakuranga Hunt Club - a position he proudly held until he died. In the 2012 publication “A Long Run” recalling the history of the Hunt Club, the following was eloquently written about Molly, and it describes him perfectly.
It read: “He persuaded many people to take up hunting and he was always ready to lend a helping hand. If someone wanted to hunt but had no horse, he’d lend them one. If someone had a horse but no grazing, he would graze it. If someone had ‘no wheels’ to get to the hunt, he would take them – his generosity knew no bounds.”
From Progressive Farm Molly was to breed some good horses, including the 1983 New Zealand Oaks winner Aulyn that he raced with his good friend Joe McVicar.
He also bred Maude Ryall, which he and Lynne also raced with the McVicars and Jones, while other standouts he bred were Secured Deposit, Sea Swift, Microwave and Rutherford Road.
More recently he shared in the ownership of Untamed Diamond with his daughter Anna and her husband Kerry Stove and some other good friends. From Richard Collett’s stable she won seven races.
Molly also tried his hand at being an owner-trainer and had some success with Action Packed and Fastways.
In 2006 he and Lynne sold up the farm in Urquhart Road and bought 30 acres in Whangapouri Road, also in Karaka where Lynne got her wish to build her dream home. It was their pride and joy. It was a challenging time for Brian when Lynne sadly passed away in 2010.
In 2014 Brian convinced Anna and Kerry to buy 22 of his 30 acres and build a home up on the hill behind his. This enabled Brian to stay on the farm and be involved in day-to-day farm work, as little or as much as he wanted, something he did right up until his health started to deteriorate in early April.
Brian is survived by his daughters Anna and Rachel and son Richard and grandchildren Chelsea, Harrison, Tom and Dan.
Rest in peace old friend, you will be missed but never forgotten.