Former Whangarei Racing Club patron Les Donaldson has passed away at the age of 80.

Donaldson was brought up with a family involvement in racing and he rode and trained race horses before becoming involved in the breeding and administration of the industry.

He had a lengthy relationship with Whangarei Racing Club, acting as committee member from 1973 to 1995, president from 1991 to 1995 and patron of the club from 2008 to 2017.

Northland training legend Donna Logan said Donaldson meant a great deal to her.


"He was a father figure to me. He was my mentor and he's leaving a very deep hole behind," she said.

"Les was a man of integrity, he had a strong personality and [was] a great horseman. He was very well liked by everyone.

"He taught me a lot through the years. Things like never putting a green rider with a green horse and making sure the routines were all right.

"He was quite demanding but that taught you about integrity and he was very big on that."

Logan trained her first winner, Silver Kris, for Donaldson.

Racing Club board chairman Mike Beazley said Donaldson's loss will be keenly felt.

"Les Donaldson was a great stalwart of the Whangarei Racing Club over many years. He was on the committee that made the significant decision in the early '70s to move the race course from Kensington Park to its current location in Ruakaka," he said.

"He became patron of the club when Bob Tait passed away in 2008, a position he only recently gave up due to his illness.

"He was always available to assist, give good advice and act in the interests of the club and the industry he was so passionate about, and he will be greatly missed by us all."

Donaldson started with the Totara Park Stud in Glenbervie in 1960s and brought out stallions and mares from England in the 1970s, including the Irish-bred Bandmaster (IRE).

Totara Park produced the champion Uncle Remus from their sire Bandmaster and the mare Tusitala, who was owned by Donaldson's mother, Grace.

Donaldson is survived by his wife, Carolyn, three children and five grandchildren.

A funeral will be held in the chapel of Newberry's Funeral Home on Friday and will be followed by a private cremation.