Respected and likable former Mornington trainer Theo Howe has died at 82.
Howe, who trained for 55 years up to 2007, died in a nursing home on Thursday night.
Originally from Awapuni in New Zealand, he began training in 1952 before moving to Victoria in January 1968.
Quietly spoken but never without a smile, Howe dominated the jumps scene in the early and mid seventies but is best remembered through the feats of dual Group 1 winner King Phoenix.
In 1969 Howe trained both the Grand National Hurdle winner Brother Bart and Grand National Steeplechase winner Summer Flight.
More success followed with Lord Montini.
It won the 1971 Hiskens Steeplechase and the Cup Day Hurdle at Flemington.
That year Ramlegh won Australian Hurdle and then 1972 Grand National Steeplechase for Howe.
Lord Montini’s full-brother Vernet, won the 1974 Hiskens, the 1975 Great Eastern Steeplechase carrying 72.5kg, and the South Australian Grand National Steeplechase.
Howe’s last good jumper Yrangie won the 1992 and 1993 Crisp Steeplechases as well as the Henry Bolte and Macdonald Steeplechases.
Howe was a popular trainer and his owners included Victorian state premier Sir Henry Bolte, VRC chairman Sir Rupert Steele, Sir Reginald Ansett and Wally Broderick.
Boderick owned Bart Cummings’s first Melbourne Cup winner Light Fingers in 1965.
The Howe-Boderick team combined for over 50 winners.
Howe’s son Barry, a trainer, said his father was of the “old school trainers”.
“He always had a smile his face and always had a good horse whether it be a two-year-old, a stayer, a jumper or sprinter,” Howe said.
Howe’s first Group 1 Australian winner was the lightning quick Gleaming Waters who won the 1981 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield at 66-1.
Cardinal Courage won 21 races including the Pakenham and Cranbourne Cups.
King Phoenix won 12 races including the 1984 Marlboro Cup (now known as the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes) and the 1985 Elders Mile (Toorak Handicap).
King Phoenix also won five other stakes races with his last being the 1986 Group 2 Craiglee Stakes (now the Makybe Diva Stakes).