Memories flow of Garry Edge

He was one of the country’s finest jockeys, a wonderful farmer and all-round Mr Nice Guy.

Sunday’s farewell to Garry Edge at Cambridge Raceway was a reflection of the man himself – one of a kind.

Garry Edge on his agistment farm in Cambridge.

The celebration of his life was attended by some of New Zealand’s racing luminaries and emceed by race commentator George Simon. It was spliced with stories of Garry’s rise to the top, with tales told by industry stalwarts – drinks in hand – of time shared in an era when things were quite different from today.

‘Edgy’s’ era was one where jockey apprenticeships were far more demanding, said George Simon, where race meetings were held once a week, unlike the five or six days a week as is the case today. Against that backdrop, Garry’s achievements were nothing short of remarkable, he said.

Garry Edge in 1960

Over 41 years of racing, Garry did 7763 rides, had 743 winners, paid dividends on every four rides, he won 20 cup races and 80 group races, entered three Melbourne Cups, two Caulfield Cups and three Cox Plates. George rattled off a raft of other statistics, including Garry’s injuries over that time – leg and wrist breaks, three rib breaks and five concussions – and said the presence of some of the racing industry’s big names was an indication of the esteem in which he was held.

Garry died in Cambridge – the town of his birth – at the age of 84. He was born to Marge and Frank Edge in 1939, the eldest of four boys – jockey Garry, accountant Richard (Richie), the late Wayne, and food industry man Max. Wayne followed his father’s footsteps into barbering.

Garry’s interest in horses began early, his daughter Steph Alderwick said.

Garry Edge in 1964

He sat on his first horse, Foxbridge, at age four and when the family moved to a place opposite Bill Townsend’s stables, the die was cast. He learned to ride and after early musings on a career in rugby, decided his future was as a jockey.

He took up his apprenticeship with respected trainer Wallace Townsend, and in March 1955 came in eighth in his first official ride. That was followed in April the same year by a win atop Sweet Wren – a name he later gave to the agistment farm he turned into a showpiece on St Kilda Rd, purchased in 1968 for the princely sum of $30,000. The years that followed brought him acclaim throughout New Zealand and in Australia.

He became known for the ‘clock in his head’, his tactical genius and penchant for riding the rails, and even after his retirement as a jockey, his continued involvement through part-ownership of horses. One of them, Waihi Warrior, ran third in a race at Cambridge the day after he died.

Garry Edge in 1973

Among the luminaries at Garry’s farewell were Ron Taylor, Keith Haub, David Peake, Earl Harrison, Ted McLachlan, Ann Browne, Richie Fallon, Chris Wood and Jim Gibbs.

They spoke of him as a ‘wonderful farmer, a great guy’, called him a talented horseman, one of the best riders they had seen, always chipper and good to be around, and always willing to help others.

George Simon remarked on the extraordinary way Garry had recorded his races.

“Every Sunday after lunch, he would write down all the rides he had done the previous day. I thought that was unlikely for 41 years, but sure enough, all those 7763 rides are recorded in his writing in scrapbooks … there are 10 huge scrapbooks,” he said.

“His was an extraordinary career.”

The horse racing elite gathered on Sunday to farewell Cambridge’s Garry Edge.

More Recent Sports

Record breaker in hall of fame

In the summer of 1963, the New Zealand equestrian world changed forever. Dairy farmer Colin Clarke and his 12-year-old thoroughbred Town Boy became a unit. They were a force to be reckoned with as New…

Camille’s marathon effort

Almost everything about Camille French’s punt at a top Paris Olympics placing speaks to the power of great support. When the 33-year-old athlete left for France last week, part of the swell of national pride…

Colts pipped by Marist again

Hautapu endured more heartbreak on Saturday when it was beaten 25-17 by Hamilton Marist in the Waikato colts rugby final for the Elliot Shield. It was the fourth title in a row for Marist –…

Hautapu gets Colts final

Hautapu Colts will play Hamilton Marist in the Waikato Rugby Union final for the third year in a row and the game on Saturday will be a home one for the Cambridge youngsters. This follows…