Robert pays tribute to an old mate Max Williams

Robert pays tribute to an old mate Max Williams

Yesterday saw the passing of Max Williams, granddad of Tim and a long time friend an supporter of the Dunn family. Robert was pleased that he had the opportunity to see Max before he passed this week.

While in recent years, Max got great joy out of the deeds of grandson Tim (in picture with Lovetodream), his own links with harness racing trace back several decades.

As Robert recalls, "Max was a milkman back in his younger days and regularly came across successful trainer Alf Bourne".

"Alf would take team of up to eight horses, down Ferry Road, onto Moorhouse Ave and then down Lincoln Road to Addington. Alf would regularly run into him and give him a pint of milk."

This bond that Max built with Alf would later see his first foray into harness racing as an owner, with Robert's father Allan in the 1960's. 

Before then though, Max and Allan went into business together, purchasing the Taita Hotel in Lower Hutt in the early 1960s. Through this business, they developed accomodation, where a number of breeders, owners and jockeys would stay, only enhancing an interest in racing for the pair. A young Robert was just seven at the time.

"Dad and Max's first real interest in racing was with the gallopers. They were incredibly lucky to own two very smart horses in Shantung and Suttle."

"When they were at the peak of their careers, Shantung was an early favourite for the Melbourne Cup and Suttle similarly for the Caulfield Cup."

"They had an amazing run and between them the two horses won around 25 races."

"Not so long after, Max had contact with Alf Bourne who said he had a nice standardbred for him to get into. He roped in dad and the horse Refluent and won about eight races for them."

"They'd struck it pretty good in terms of their early ownership experience."

Max returned to Christchurch in the early 1970's and mixed work as a chicken farmer and at Turners and Growers in town.

When Robert moved to Christchurch in the early 1970's, he lived with Max and his wife Lois.

"He was a super man. He'd get me up at 4.45 every morning and then he was there to see me out the door at 5.15. I was working for Jack Smo (Smolenski) at the time and then after that at Jim Dalgety's."

Max's interest in harness racing continued through the 1970's and he enjoyed following a top horse of that time in Vanadium, raced by Max's brother-in-law Ted Lloyd.

"He was a really good horse. He must have won about 20 races."

"Back in those days, mum and dad and Max and Lois would never miss a race meeting at Addington."

But it would be through grandson Tim, that the harness racing legacy would really continue.

"Timmy and Dex were born pretty close together and they became great mates from when they were just little fellas."

"Timmy was brought up with harness racing and spent a lot of time coming out to the farm at West Melton."

"When Max retired he would be a regular out at West Melton with dad and then later helping Geoff and myself with the boxes. He was a real legend."

But it was through Tim's blossoming career that Max would take great delight in his latter years.

"Max and Timmy were always very close. Right back when Timmy was a wee fella he'd have his rake and wheelbarrow copying what granddad was doing."

"Then to for him to see all Tim's success in the last few years, well that was phenomenal."

No doubt Max will be casting an eye over Addington tomorrow night as he catches up with his old mate Allan. Rest easy old mate. 

Article by Mike Drury

Posted: Thu 01 Feb 2018