Legendary horseman Smolenski farewelled

04:02, Feb 13 2013
ack Smolenski std
LEGEND: Horseman Jack Smolenski died last week.

Hundreds of people gathered at Addington Raceway this afternoon to pay their final respects to legendary horseman Jack Smolenski, who died aged 78 last week.

Smolenski carved out a career that resulted in him being one of the greatest horseman in New Zealand harness racing history.

Smolenski drove 1059 winners in New Zealand and many more overseas, and also picked up 742 wins as a trainer.

He is the most recent horseman to win the national trainer and driver premierships in the same year.

Smolenski's crowning glory came in 1973 when he trained and drove Arapaho to win the New Zealand Trotting Cup at Addington.

Six months later, he trained the trifecta in the Easter Handicap, with Vanadium beating stablemates Speedy Guest and Arapaho.

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Smolenski was not in the country at the time as he was in Europe competing in the World Drivers Championship, in which he finished fourth.

At today's memorial service, friends and family members spoke of a humble, unassuming man who was dedicated to his family.

His grandchildren spoke of their own super-hero who also just happened to he "Granddad Jack" and a man who was a legend in his chosen profession, but also "a legend of a grandfather."

Described as a big softie with a firm handshake, all agreed it was only fitting that today's final goodbye was held at a place that became more than a second home to Smolenski.

The Press