Palmerston North thoroughbred breeding industry stalwart Rex Fell will defy a year of cancer suffering to take his usual commander-in-chief role at the Goodwood Stud yearling barn at Karaka today.
William Fell said his dad has endured a harrowing 12 months with prostrate and then bone cancer.
"But miraculously his health seems to have come right at sales time and he will be here on Sunday," Fell said.
"We have all been very concerned about his health and it's just great to know he will be alongside me at the sales again," he said.
"I don't think the Karaka sales would be the same without him although he's sure to try to tell me what to do."
William Fell said every visitor to Goodwood's barn had asked first about his father and then about the horses - "but that's not surprising given how people hold him in high regard."
Rex Fell, 66, and his brother Gerald are sons of another famous New Zealand horse breeder, Arthur, who set up Fairdale Stud more than 60 years ago. Fairdale bred many outstanding winners including Australian Horse of the Year and Melbourne Cup winner Hyperno and Petrav, a champion three-year-old filly in South Africa.
When the brothers decided to go their own way two years ago Gerald's son, Duncan, took over Fairdale Stud, while William finally decided that the racing industry was not so bad after all. "When I was younger I hated horses with a passion and never wanted to be involved with them.".
However, after leaving school at 17 with no job, Fell turned to what he was "bred" to do and went to Arrowfield Stud in Australia for a year, followed by a stint at Coolmore Stud in Ireland and one season at Ashford Stud in the US, as well as working at Camas Park for Goffs and Tattersalls' sales.
In 2007 Fell returned to New Zealand at the time that Gerald and Rex Fell split up Fairdale Stud and the latter established Goodwood Stud on 140ha of land, in conjunction with William, who said Goodwood Stud's 16-strong draft at Karaka had attracted plenty of attention, with the O'Reilly-Powder Blue colt the unquestionable favourite.
- Sunday Star Times