Mac Robinson drove past a fatal crash in Matamata on Monday night before glancing back and realising the car involved was his wife's.
Horse-racing enthusiast Joy Robinson, 58, died when the car she was driving collided with a horse at 6.20pm on Hopkins Rd, south of Matamata.
The car hit the horse before travelling across a driveway and stopping at a tree.
Mrs Robinson's husband, Mac, had been dropping a friend home who lived around the corner from the crash when he saw the accident.
"I didn't realise it was her until we were just driving past and I glanced back and saw the back of the car ..," Mr Robinson told the Herald. He said his heart dropped once he realised.
The Matamata father said his wife had driven that road every day for 15 years and it was a "sad irony" that the animal and industry his wife loved had killed her.
Ms Robinson had been only 4km from home when the crash happened.
Mr Robinson struggled to find the right words to describe his wife of 40 years and the mother of their 33-year-old daughter Melissa, but said she would be sorely missed.
Mrs Robinson was passionate about horse racing, starting from her father's involvement in the industry, and she recently shared in the ownership of promising 2-year-old filly Readywhenyouare which won at Pukekohe on April 14.
The racing community was yesterday grieving her death. She was well known in the industry having worked for one of New Zealander's best thoroughbred trainers, Roger James, for almost 20 years.
Mr James said she had been a loyal personal assistant to him.
"There's no doubt she was always for the stables and a big part of the success of my career really."
The phone at Kingsclere Stables where she worked had not stopped ringing yesterday as the racing industry called to express their sorrow. Staff were trying to carry out their usual routines with difficulty.
"To say it will be business as usual will be far from the truth, but we will endeavour to pick up the pieces and maintain her high standards ... it just may take some time," Mr James said.