Vale Don McLaren

Don with Peter Moody who trained the stakes winner Tampiko for him among others
Don with Peter Moody who trained the stakes winner Tampiko for him among others

Don McLaren has been a long-time client, associate and more importantly friend of the Chitty Family and the staff of Haunui Farm. His business acumen saw him inducted into the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame but it was horses that was his passion and for many years, he ran his own boutique stud, Northfields.

Earlier this week, Don passed away and our thoughts are with his family at this time.

Don was a constant visitor to Haunui Farm, stopping in not only to discuss his bloodstock and, industry issues, but often for a general chat, a bite to eat and a cup of tea - those visits will be missed.

Don achieved many accolades in his 81 years one of which was the award for Outstanding Contribution to the Thoroughbred Industry in 2011 from the Auckland Branch of the NZTBA. Below is the dissertation that was written and read out in regard to Don's life achievements.

Don will be sorely missed by the Chitty family and all of the staff here at Haunui.

Outstanding Contribution to the Thoroughbred Industry 2011 - Don McLaren

The Auckland Branch award for outstanding contribution to the thoroughbred industry is given to a person whom we believe has made an impact on our industry through years of dedication and service at many levels.

In an industry involvement that spans more than fifty years, this year's recipient has worn many hats from that of employee, employer, racehorse owner, breeder, yearling vendor, racing administrator and even sponsor.

A member of the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders' Association for almost 30 years, tonight's recipient has attended any number of these awards dinners and has even been an award recipient on the odd occasion! In that time, our award recipient's involvement in administration has been immense serving on committees and taking on leadership roles giving freely of their time and expertise in times that have required strong leadership and vision and at times, a hard nose to make tough decisions.

This year's recipient has spent a majority of their life in the Auckland area and the love of the thoroughbred is something that evolved from an early age. In fact, this person used to ride trackwork when there was a training facility here at this very racecourse.

After leaving school, University was next on the agenda for this person however, the desire to be involved in the thoroughbred industry and the coaxing of a friend, lead to a three-year stint in the bloodstock division at Wright Stephenson where writing pedigrees provided a knowledge that in later years would be invaluable – and, I am lead to believe it also provided a slightly deformed finger which in fact proves the pedigrees were hand written!

The big "OE" then beckoned and our recipient along with a very good friend, traveled to the UK in 1955 and with both of them having a love of horses, it was inevitable that they would visit a number of studs in Newmarket and tonight's recipient even rode track work on the famous Epsom Downs.

However, it was in business that this overseas stint would prove most fruitful and the forging and development of relationships along with the receipt of training in their specific field, would eventually lead to our recipient establishing their own business in the years ahead.

Returning to New Zealand in the late fifties as a sales representative, it wasn't long until our recipient realised they needn't be doing all this work for someone else and using the relationships fostered overseas years before, branched out on their own.

With the vision and drive to succeed, business took up a large amount of our recipient's time however, the love of the horse was still a strong influence.

We all know that an involvement with horses requires a certain amount of financial stability and it wasn't until the late 1960's that our recipient was coaxed into racehorse ownership by a very good friend. This filly went on to win a race at Trentham and the rest, as they say is history.

That initial foray into racehorse ownership was followed with numerous other successes at every level on both sides of the Tasman however, with the highs, comes a long list of lows only too well known to those of us in this room and tonight's award winner is very adept at taking the good with the bad. An indication of their generosity can be easily seen as they race many of their own horses in partnership with friends and family, in their own words – "we need to get new people involved and it's more fun racing horses with people"

Like many in this game, an involvement in racing horses soon turned to an involvement in breeding horses and then consequently racing even more horses – the ones that couldn't be sold due to injury or conformation and of course, the ones that just couldn't be parted with!

As with business, our recipient took to breeding with a great deal of planning and a vision for what was to be achieved with only the best mares sought to join an exclusive broodmare band that over the years has never numbered more than twenty and as a vendor at the yearling sales, our recipient can proudly boast the honour of selling a colt to top the sale of his year at Trentham. Sold under the Northfields banner, the colt by Zamazaan fetched $465,000.

Ladies and Gentlemen, tonight's recipient started his business, BOMAC Laboratories, with 50 pounds and a blue VW beetle – today, this company is a multimillion dollar business employing over 160 people and exporting products to over 70 countries around the world – products researched, developed and manufactured within its own facility. Reminders of where the company has come from can be seen in BOMAC headquarters in the form of a framed 50 pound note and a blue, model VW beetle

In the beginning, BOMAC sold 90% of its products on behalf of overseas companies with only 10% of those sold being manufactured in house. Evidence of our recipient's vision and passion for innovation sees that situation reversed and today, BOMAC researches, develops and manufactures 90% of the products sold by the company at their Manukau City base. This is the original site that was purchased some 48 years ago by our recipient when there was metal roads around Manukau City and cows were still being milked just across the road! Today, BOMAC is a leader in its field and a large contributor to the New Zealand equine industry through the sponsorship of the BOMAC Lecture Series, New Zealand Equestrian Teams and New Zealand Showjumping.

As a breeder, this person had a vision of breeding from only the best and at one stage, their broodmare band (which has never totaled more than 20) included 8 G1 winners or producers.

From the foundation mares of Mellay Vite, Cream Puff and Lady Belle – a mare who put our award winner on the map as a breeder – tonight's recipient has bred, raced or owned the likes of Tristabelle, Casey Belle, Valencia, Eastern Joy, Outward Bound, Kiwi Magic, Flitter and Piachay. This year, one of the greatest moments of our recipient's time as an owner came when G1 winner Calveen was named Mercedes Sprinter/Miler of the Year and in his own words, one of his favourite horses is Millennium.

A member of the NZTBA since 1969, a member of the Auckland Racing Club since 1974 and committee member of the Auckland Racing Club for fifteen years before serving a term as President in 1995. A man who served as Chairman of New Zealand Thoroughbred Marketing for two years, was elected to the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame in 1999 for his services and success in the business community and awarded the honour of a New Zealand Order of Merit in 2000 for his services to animal health and the thoroughbred industry, the recipient of the Auckland Branch Outstanding Contribution to the industry award is Don McLaren.

- Mark Chitty


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