Vale Rex Fell of Fairdale and Goodwood Studs

A genuinely good all round bloke was lost to the New Zealand thoroughbred industry recently with the death of Rex Selwyn Fell.

Rex passed away peacefully in Palmerston North, after a long battle with illness. A battle he fought bravely for over 10 years, and according to his older brother Gerald with great courage.

He was born in March 1945 the third child of Arthur and Joan Fell and was half an hour older than his twin brother Tony. He is survived by his children William and Kate and both his brothers. His older sister Jennifer passed away some 20 years ago

Growing up on the family farm Fairdale Stud in Longburn was full of adventure for the Fell children, as they attended Longburn School, and the boys Palmerston North Boys High. On leaving school Rex and Tony who maintained their strong twin bond right to the end, joined Gerald and their father on the family farm, where they were now standing their first stallion High Rank.

Shortly thereafter the amazing Pakistan II came along and changed the life of the Fells. The son of Palestine sired some amazing racehorses and captured at least six championship sire titles. This encouraged both Gerald and Rex to follow in their father's footsteps and grow their farming interests in thoroughbreds, cropping and general farming.

"Rex loved the industry , the cut and thrust of standing stallions, selling nominations, meeting people, racing horses with all its highs and lows, and most of all the excitement of the yearling sales, and he was good at it all," recalled Gerald.

"He played a huge part in the decision making and daily work involved in running the thoroughbred side of the business. Rex was a breeding enthusiast and with his encouragement we purchased Mikarla who produced the Australian Horse of the Year and Melbourne Cup winner Hyperno. "

All in all Rex was involved in the breeding and rearing of winners in 14 countries and the winners of over 200 black type races. Tiptoe, Plume and Tall Poppy, were among those black type winners and just days after his death Tall Poppy's daughter All In Vogue won her first black type race the listed Warstep Stakes.

Over the last 12 months he has taken great pleasure watching Barbaric achieve black type success while Iffwedance won the St Leger on his 70th birthday. Both race in the cerise and gold colours and ownership of Goodwood Stud, that Rex established with his son William.

In 2007 Gerald and Rex both with sons keen to be involved in the thoroughbred industry, made the amicable decision to dissolve their 50 plus year-old farming partnership to allow the next generation to succeed, and Goodwood Stud was born. William will carry on with his father's legacy, with the wisdom and knowledge gained from his father, and the support of his uncles Tony and Gerald.

A friend for over 35 years Joe Walls described Rex as an all-round good bloke, a real good bugger.

"Over the years we travelled extensively throughout the world looking at horses, we had some fabulous trips. He was a great guy, he had a hell of a keen sense of humour. He made a lot of friends all around the world and a lot of people worldwide are saddened by the way his life ended up," recalled Walls.

"He was a man of principal, he always stuck to his guns, he was a very loyal person, and always treated his colleagues very well. He would often put on a fa├žade to appear grumpy but he wasn't at all like that, he never complained and he loved to take the mickey. He will be missed."

His colleagues at RACE also appreciated these characteristics along with his great knowledge of racing and the culture of racing.He contributed over 25 years of service to the committee of the Manawatu Racing Club and only recently retired as the President and Chairman of the RACE group of clubs.

Outside of the thoroughbred industry, in earlier years Rex was a very keen and competitive golfer and had a wide circle of friends at the local golf club. He also loved to go fishing, and enjoyed regular fishing trips to the Marlborough Sounds with his mates from Palmerston North.

Many friends will recall that he always enjoyed a good party, according to Gerald, Rex fancied himself as a budding Pavarotti and would often burst into song singing opera. Rex will be sadly missed by all who knew him, and remembered with respect and affection.

A service for Rex will be held in the Silks Lounge, Awapuni Racecourse, Racecourse Road, Palmerston North on Wednesday 27 April 2016 at 1 pm.

- Michelle Saba


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