Influential Manawatu breeder dies

Popular Manawatu thoroughbred breeder and administrator Rex Fell died on Friday after a prolonged battle with illness. He was 71.

Rex was an integral part of the family-owned Fairdale Stud dynasty that was established by his father Arthur Fell in the early 1900s and came to prominence as a thoroughbred nursery in the 1950s.

Rex enjoyed Fairdale's glory years when Pakistan II dominated the New Zealand sire ranks, winning six champion stallion titles through the late 1960s and 1970s.

In an interview for the stud book Where Champions Are Born in 2014, Rex recalled: "He was a great horse and if we got one half as good these days, we'd be happy. He was a wonderful sire. He'd leave a runner out of anything. He was a very pre-potent stallion."

Rex's greatest triumph as a breeder was co-breeding Melbourne Cup winner Hyperno, one of the greatest stayers of his generation, who also won the Adelaide Cup, Tancred Stakes, Orr Stakes, Caulfield Stakes, Rawson Stakes and the Australian Cup.

Among the star gallopers he was involved with as a co-breeder and owner were Tiptoe, Plume and Tall Poppy, while notable recent horses he raced were stakes-winning sprinter Barbaric and Iffwedance, who won the Listed New Zealand St Leger at Trentham last year on Rex's 70th birthday.

"Racing and breeding was his life," brother Gerald Fell said.

"He knew nothing else. He grew up at Fairdale Stud, left school and spent the rest of his life with horses. He loved the horses and the people he met through his involvement. He had a wide group of friends through breeding and racing. It really was his life's passion."

In 2007, brothers Rex and Gerald split their bloodstock interests to provide certainty for their respective children and Rex and his son Will established Goodwod Stud.

Rex followed a family tradition of getting involved in racing administration and ascended to chairman of the RACE group of clubs in the Central Districts and president of the Manawatu Racing Club.

Rex is survived by his son Will and daughter Kate. - NZ Racing Desk


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