Jack Tims, best remembered as the owner-trainer of the top stayer Senator, has passed away.
After a battle with deteriorating health, Tims died on Tuesday, just a couple of weeks after his 82nd birthday.
A respected stockman and an all-round horseman, the Matamata dairy farmer was brought up with horses and initially enjoyed success in racing as an amateur rider, excelling over fences.
He became the first amateur rider to win the Wellington Steeplechase (then 5400m) when successful in 1957 aboard his father Bill’s horse, Conkeda. That same season the pair combined to also win the Wanganui Steeplechase, chased Cogitation home in the Grand National Steeplechase (5600m) and finished sixth in the Great Northern Steeplechase (6400m).
After concentrating on dairy farming when he and his wife, Grace, brought up their young family, Tims later became an owner-trainer and his horsemanship shone through, initially with Ivan Bar, who proved a talented stayer in the early 1980s. Ivan Bar won 10 races, including one over fences, and was narrowly beaten when second in the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Handicap (2400m) at Ellerslie.
Tims’ best horse, Senator, emerged a decade later and after being successful on debut he went on to win a total of nine races from 23 starts and more than $460,000 in prizemoney.
Tims’ astute placement of Senator enabled the son of Sound Reason to win five races in succession in the 1995-96 season after ending his previous campaign also on a winning note. That successful streak culminated in the Group 2 Waikato Gold Cup (2400m) and the Group 1 Auckland Cup (3200m).
Senator’s deeds as a five-year-old earned him the New Zealand Champion Stayer Award and paved the way for Tims exceeding his wildest dreams, a tilt at the 1996 Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m). On the one-hit Australian trip, Senator finished a highly creditable fourth to Saintly for his media-shy and humble owner-trainer.
Tims enjoyed more success during his years as an owner-trainer, never having more than a couple of horses in work at a time and, being from the old school, he firmly believed in patience to get the best out of his horses.
Keeping, a winner of five races, proved another handy galloper for Tims, whose last win as an owner-trainer came three years ago with Trueman in a six-length maiden victory on his home course.
Due to his deteriorating health, Tims sent Trueman to Matamata trainers Bev and Ken Kelso, who prepared him to win a double last winter.
Unfortunately Tims hasn’t lived to see Trueman win again, but there will be plenty of sentiment behind the six-year-old’s chances when jockey Cameron Lammas dons Tims’ colours in the Dobsons Refrigeration and Electrical Premier 1400 at Tauranga this Saturday.