Harness racing has lost one of its most heart-warming characters with the death of Morrie Molloy.
Molloy, a part-owner of champion trotter Monbet, died on Monday, two and a half weeks after suffering a heart attack. "We saw him last week and he had had a pacemaker put it but he wasn't happy," said Monbet's trainer Greg Hope.
The Hope family had known Morrie for over 30 years, since Greg leased trotter That's That to race off Molloy.
Morrie had got into the racing business through Max Bowden, whose Christchurch business was above a cafe Morrie owned.
"He met Max and ended up breeding a few by Clever Innocence," remembers Hope.
"That included the trotter That's That, which we leased off him and he would have had well over 100 wins as a owner, most of them with us training."
It was Monbet who understandably gave Morrie his greatest joy in racing, claiming trotting's greatest races and putting him front and centre in the victory ceremonies at Alexandra Park and Addington as well as at the national awards, when Monbet claimed Horse of the Year.
That was when the real extent of Morrie's passion and courage came to the fore.
During the Monbet run of success, Morrie's battle with Parkinson's became harder, to the point he struggled to speak publicly. But they made Monbet's victories and Morrie's speeches all the more special, with his frank humour about his limitations a stark reminder as to what is really important.
It meant that Monbet's presentations were really about Morrie's fight, and finding joy in the toughest of times.
A lifelong bachelor, Morrie will be remembered with fondness by anybody lucky enough to enjoy his most human moments in the spotlight.
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