The harness racing industry lost a popular identity in Bill Denton on Sunday 22 December 2019.
A former trainer and driver, Bill was also involved heavily in the breeding industry, standing influential stallions such as Garrison Hanover during his career as a stud master.
He stood stallions at a time when it was extremely hard to get permits to bring in stallions from America, and saw huge changes in the breeding industry during his lifetime.
Fortunately by the time the family obtained Garrison Hanover the process was less stringent.
“Jack Shaw had a commission to go to America to buy Flying Song for Clem Scott, and Dad went with him,” Bill recalled in a previous interview for the Addington Hall of Fame. “The permit situation had eased by then. Dad was advised by Jim Harrison, of the USTA, who wrote that great book on training Standardbreds. He recommended Garrison Hanover.”
Bill’s introduction to harness racing started via his grandfather, who was a former President of the New Brighton Trotting Club.
He trained 66 winners, and drove in some of our biggest races. Bill was associated as a driver of some talented pacers including Superior Chance, who won nine races, whom he drove to finish third in Armalight’s record breaking win in the New Zealand Free-For- All in 1981.
Bill Denton fondly remembered getting to know his hero, Maurice Holmes.
“He was my hero. Kids have heroes playing football or other sports but mine was always Maurice. I wasn’t the only one either. I got quite close to him. I would get through the fence and help out there every chance I got, jogging horses and that.”
Our condolences go to Bill’s family, which includes his daughter Julie De Filippi (who of course carries on the family harness connection in training partnership with her husband, Colin) and John Denton (current Racecourse Manager of Addington Raceway).
Bill is survived by his wife Catherine, Julie, John and Mary. Bill’s funeral will be held at Westpark Chapel, Wairakei Road, Friday 27 December 2019 at 2.00pm.
In lieu of flowers, donations to the Team Teal Campaign with HRNZ would be appreciated, and can be made at the service.