GORDON ROTHACKER DIES, AGED 81
The Australian harness racing industry is mourning the loss of its most iconic figure after the passing of Mr Gordon W Rothacker in hospital on Tuesday night, November 16, aged 81.
Harness Racing Victoria’s highest individual award, the Gordon Rothacker Medal, is named in his honour, but Gordon was sadly unable to attend the presentation which was only held last Saturday night.
Gordon Rothacker won a record 14 Melbourne Drivers’ Premierships between 1949 and 1973, as well capturing 10 Melbourne Trainers’ Premierships between 1953 and 1976.
Photo: The late Gordon Rothacker. Photo courtesy of Harness Racing Victoria.
He was the first reinsman to land 500 winners on Melbourne tracks, doing so at Moonee Valley in 1987, some 39 years after driving his first winner at the Showgrounds as an 18 year old in the inaugural season of night trotting.
Awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours of 1972 for his services to trotting, Rothacker was the Caduceus Club’s first living legend when inducted in 1995 and has also been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal by Harness Racing Victoria.
Rothacker won numerous feature races with great pacers such as Angelique, Rhett, Gallagher and Raiarmagh Pool, while also representing Australia in the second World Drivers’ Championship in 1971 in the US and Canada.
HRV’s Chief Executive John Anderson said, “The entire industry will feel the loss of Gordon, but with today’s great sorrow comes an opportunity to remember his remarkable achievements and contribution to harness racing.
“One of the most emotional moments I have experienced was the standing ovation that Gordon received at last year’s Gordon Rothacker Medal night.
“The Medal is awarded for excellence, passion, hard work, integrity and honour, which are all qualities that epitomised Gordon’s life in harness racing.
“I was informed that Gordon passed away while studying the form guide, which is a fitting reflection of the passion he held for the sport right to the end. He will be greatly missed.”
It will be requested that all Victorian Country Clubs fly their flags at half mast throughout the next week and drivers will wear black armbands during the VHRSC Classic (Race 7) on Friday night at Tabcorp Park, Melton as a sign of respect.
Mr Anderson continued, “We also await funeral details from the Rothacker family as HRV sends our heartfelt condolences on behalf of the Victorian harness racing industry.
Courtesy of Alastair Hogg, HRV Media & communications officer