Emotional farewell for Highlands trainer

REST IN PEACE: Prominenet Highlands horse trainer Graeme Spackman passed away on Tuesday morning after a short battle with cancer. Photo: supplied.
REST IN PEACE: Prominenet Highlands horse trainer Graeme Spackman passed away on Tuesday morning after a short battle with cancer. Photo: supplied.

The Highlands lost a popular sports identity on Tuesday, January 10. 

Horse trainer Graeme Spackman sadly passed away aged 73 on the morning of January 10 after a short battle with cancer. 

However, his legacy lived on after his passing at the Nowra races on Tuesday. Hangover Monday, previously trained by Spackman in his riding days had an emotional win in the Shoalhaven City Council Benchmark 57 Handicap (1200m).

New trainer Tash Burleigh worked with Mr Spackman as his foreman before becoming a trainer herself, and was overcome with emotion after the win. 

Hangover Monday was geared up in Mr Spackman’s colours of yellow, red stars and cap and each of the other jockeys wore a black armband to commemorate Spackman’s life. 

Mr Spackman was well known in country NSW as a quiet achiever and a good bloke. He enjoyed success across the Southern Highlands, particularly at the Bong Bong Picnic Races. 

He became the second local trainer in history to prepare a Bong Bong Cup winner when five-year-old gelding Give Way took out the 2004 Bong Bong Cup. He again took cup victory in 2010 with Central Act. 

Southern Highlander Geoff Goodfellow said Mr Spackman would be remembered “without doubt as the most outstanding all-round sportsman he had ever seen around the Highlands”. 

“He was a superb horseman and one of the finest polocrosse players in the world. If my memory serves me correctly, he was also the NSW country table tennis champion, winner of around 10 first grade basketball premierships, an outstanding golfer and winner of district championships in both tennis and squash.”

Nick Campbell-Jones was a good friend of Mr Spackman and said he was the best horesman he had ever seen.

“I’ve been around horses all my life and no-one compared to Graeme. Most people would agree that he was the best Polocrosse player in the country. He played right through from 1954 up until about 10 years ago.” 

Campbell-Jones who grew up with Mr Spackman said he would be sorely missed.

“He was a great friend and a very good man, he would never blow his own trumpet so to speak.”

Mr Spackman’s funeral service will be held on Saturday, January 21 in the main chapel at Chevalier College. The service will commence at 1.30pm.