Auckland NZTBA branch member and popular owner Arthur Avis passed away peacefully this week aged 94.
Avis grew up near Trentham in the Hutt Valley and that is where his interest in racing began. He was educated at Hutt Valley High School where he played rugby in the first XV, was a veteran of World War II serving in Egypt, where rumour has it his initials were carved in a pyramid, before embarking on a successful business career back in the Hutt Valley.
Although he harboured an interest in racing from a young age, it was not until his wife passed away that he made his first foray in to horse ownership. After hearing Susan Archer speak enthusiastically about race horse ownership at a Rotarians’ lunch he sought her advice on obtaining a racehorse and on her recommendation called Robert Dawe.
There began a successful relationship where Dawe bought Avis his first individual racehorse Riotous in 2007, and over the next 11 years the pair shared a lot of success.
With a desire to be involved in his new hobby and based on a small farm at Bombay, Avis sent his new purchase to the stable of Richard and Judy Collett. Riotous won five races, with each of the Collett siblings Natasha, Jason and Alysha riding the stable favourite to win.
“He was one of nature’s gentleman,” recalled Richard Collett, “and soon became a big part of our stable, he was admired by all the family, the staff and made friends with a number of our other clients.”
So Wotif followed shortly thereafter and he won four races including the Gr.3. Mr Tiz Trophy, before running third in the G.3. Cambridge Breeders Stakes. It was then time for another Captain Rio and this time Dawe bought him a filly Lady Royale who won the Gr.2 Matamata Breeders Stakes.
The following year Selfie came on the scene and ran second in the listed Karaka Million, the Matamata Slipper Stakes and the Northland Breeders Stakes, and is still in the Collett stable as a three race winner. Avis also has a share in the listed winner Untamed Diamond, while Top Prospect is another in the stable.
Top Prospect won three races on end and last season including the Listed Trevor Eagle Memorial, he also ran second in the Gr.2 Wellington Guineas. He has been placed at his last two starts in the last month.
“Of all the horses I have bought for Arthur I believe he will be the best,” said Dawe. “Arthur was more than just a client to me, I enjoyed his company, his wit and his stories of people and events from the past. We had a good run together.”
Avis who until recently lived in Bombay is survived by his son Carey and daughter Wendy. - Michelle Saba