By Geoff Newling
Local Hero might be something of a sad and ironic racing twist when the scone gelding runs in tomorrow’s $20,000 FSDP Benchmark 70 Handicap (1200m) at Tamworth.
Sad and ironic because one of scone’s most dedicated racing sons, Noel Leckie, passed away this week. His funeral will be held at St Luke’s Anglican Church, Scone from 2pm next Tuesday.
An accountant by trade, the 64-year-old Noel Leckie had been on the Scone Race Club committee for 23 years, serving the last 20 as its chairman and vice chairman. He was also a prominent owner, being a part-owner of stakes winner Voodoo Lad, who was third in the 2014 Country Championships Final at Randwick and also a breeder, most notably breeding recent Magic Millions winner Houtzen.
Greg Bennett is Scone’s unofficial mayor, the local trainer prepares Local Hero at Scone and was touched by the linking of his horse to Noel Leckie, a man he regarded as a close friend as well as a client and extremely talented administrator.
“He was a great friend, he raced a lot of horses with me and was a great contributor to the town,” Greg Bennett said. “He was a local hero, a mad sportsman who loved his cricket and footie.”
Racing NSW CEO, Peter V’Landys, AM, reckoned him a passionate and major asset to Scone Race Club in a moving tribute on the Racing NSW website this week.
“Without doubt Noel’s efforts landed Scone its stand-alone Saturday meeting and remains the only country club to have one,” V’landys said of the two-day Scone Cup Carnival now entrenched as one of the biggest country race carnivals in Australia.
V’landys also described him as a “complete gentleman and a fine human being who will be missed by all”.
Greg Bennett was speaking to Noel Leckie on Monday afternoon and while he had been crook for a long while his sudden death from a heart attack on Tuesday morning came a great shock.
“Not only was he the club president but also my accountant,” Greg Bennett said. “We had a lot of fun over the years, he coached my son in cricket and I coached his son in rugby.
"He had a number of good horses with me, Fenway Park, Chaste and Street Of Knowledge. But he was a great contributor to the town, he was a terrific fellow and will be hard to replace.”
Noel was regarded as the unofficial mayor of Scone for all the racing promotion he did and the Scone horseman is greatly saddened by Noel Leckie’s passing.
Bennett will run Local Hero at Tamworth tomorrow, somewhat as a tribute to Scone’s local hero Noel Leckie. A five-year-old gelding son of Snippetson Local Hero drew barrier 12 this morning in the FSDP B70 Handicap (1200m).
Rachael Murray will ride Local Hero, jumping back on board after Mollie Partridge claimed three kilograms when the gelding resumed from a 24 week break with a length second to Zero Cash at Muswellbrook on January 12.
Local Hero likes Tamworth as well having won two of his three starts at the Country Music Capital. “He needs the run,” he said. “It’s his lead-up race to the Walcha Cup (February 10). He’s drawn 12 (at Tamworth) but I was very happy with his first up run. Had a big weight but hung in well. From this gate we’re going to be positive again.”
Bennett won last year’s “home town” Walcha Cup with Pro Consul and hopes to repeat with either Local Hero or maybe Lucky Nic.