by GILLIAN VINE
St Mary’s Church, Mosgiel, overflowed on February 10 for the funeral Mass of Steven Anderton,
one of New Zealand’s most respected thoroughbred trainers.
Mr Anderton, 43, died on February 3 after becoming trapped under the ramp of a horse float
at his Wingatui stables the previous day.
Parish priest Fr Michael Dooley, assisted by Anderton family friends Bishop Colin Campbell
and Bishop Emeritus Len Boyle, celebrated the Mass, which was attended by 700 people. The
number present was an indication of “the respect and honour you hold Steve in”, Fr Dooley
A few days before his death Mr Anderton had talked to Fr Dooley about arrangements for
baptising his younger daughter, Tillie.
Many tributes painted a picture of a much-loved and busy man from “the royal family of
racing”, and of “the incredible strength and courage” of his wife, Claire.
Murray Acklin, former NZ Racing Conference and NZ Thoroughbred Racing chairman, offered
condolences to the family, then to Claire: “You have won the hearts and admiration of everyone, not only in racing but in the wider community,” he said.
He was referring to the fact that, despite her grief, Mrs Anderton had ensured The Diamond
One, which her husband trained, took the field in the Group III White Robe Handicap at
the Otago Racing Club’s meeting on Waitangi Day.
The Diamond One won, only the second mare to do so in the race’s 41-year history. After an
emotional course commentary by Dave McDonald, she was led back at the head of the field by
“There was a smile on every face and a tear in every eye when The Diamond One returned,” Mr
Mr Anderton was born in Mosgiel on March 22, 1971. After his birth, his race trainer father, Hec, drove to the Oamaru races. Phoning from the meeting, he learned that another baby, Debbie, had been born.
The boy attended St Mary’s School in Mosgiel, then The Taieri High School, but left as soon
possible because “all he wanted to do was train horses”, Kevin Payne said in his eulogy.
He joined his father and after two years at Wingatui, went to work for top trainer John Hawkes, first in Sydney and then Melbourne. He returned to his father’s stables, first
as foreman and later in partnership, taking over when Mr Anderton senior retired in 2009.
Since 1992, when he first took out a training licence, Mr Anderton has had 169 winners
with $2.3 million in stakes.
He is survived by Claire and two daughters, Katie (3) and Tillie (9 months).