FEBRUARY 5, 2024: THE Hunter thoroughbred, harness racing and hotel industries have lost one of their finest ambassadors, Errol Moyle.

After bravely battling a lengthy illness, Moyle passed away this morning. He was 78.

Moyle often joked he was “dual-gaited”. In reality, he was. He spent a lifetime around horses, training and driving standardbreds and later trained thoroughbreds.

Moyle began working around trotting stables 65 years ago at the tender age of 13, and was granted a NSW trotting trainer/driver licence at 16. He did that for 15 years and the winners flowed. They included horses such as Jet Air, Vida Blue, Bond Seven, Lucky Blaze, Anyport, Sleepy Joe, Logic Hanover and Daydream Girl. The old Newcastle Showgrounds tight circuit provided a couple of memorable incidents for him. One was a trial many years ago with a full field of 12 – and the lights went out! “It was pretty scary at the time and should never have happened, but it did,” Moyle recalled in an interview with From The Track magazine in 2015. “We went a full lap before someone realised the gravity of the situation, and flicked the switch to turn the lights back on. “Thankfully, everyone got through unscathed. Every driver had to be so careful. “We all had to stay at the same pace, otherwise there could have been a very serious smash.” In another incident at the old Showgrounds track, he was driving a pacer in a race when the bit snapped. “That left me with no steering gear or brakes,” he said, relating the story. “I got up outside the leader and sang out to the driver to let me go across to the fence as I was in trouble. “He thought I was trying to fool him into letting me lead, and wouldn’t surrender. “My horse crossed anyway and put him out of business. “The driver apologised to me later after realizing that I was in trouble and telling the truth.”

Whilst Moyle proved a dab hand with both pacers and thoroughbreds, he didn’t rely on those avenues solely for an income to support his family – wife Stephanie and children, daughters Michelle and Natalie and sons Errol Jnr and Daniel. He was licensee at Cessnock’s Railway Hotel (closest to the racecourse) from 1974 to 1976 before taking over the Heddon Greta Hotel for 32 years until he pulled his last beer in 2007. Moyle was the longest-serving hands-on publican in the Hunter at the time of his retirement.

The late Jim Paterson, another well-known name in in both pacing and racing circles in the Hunter and later the Northern Rivers – convinced Moyle to give the thoroughbreds a try. “Coping with the pacers early in the morning and then running a pub was okay, but actually going to the races at night started to become a problem,” he said in the 2015 interview. “Sometimes I was getting home at 1am and getting up again at 4am to start a new day. “Jim said there was good money in training thoroughbreds if I could get a good one, and reckoned I would find the lifestyle more suitable. “He was right. It worked out really well and it was excellent from a family viewpoint as our daughters both rode trackwork before going to school and also until they finished University.” There was always a steady stream of winners from his stables.

Horses such as Rosevale Lady, Lord Doricus, Mr Daniel, Lucky Snow, Tracey Splendid, King Samuel, Vain Amy, Majestic Drums, Millenium Way, Sam’s Prince, Kalcendar, Darcey Legend, Al Tiger, Mighty Field, Magic Quiver, Catfight, Snow Wind and Stylish Pines all were winners under the Moyle banner. Majestic Drums always held a special place when he looked back on his many successes. “He was a TJ Smith cast-off,” Moyle recalled. “I took him along slowly and after a couple of starts, he began to really improve in his work. “I set him for a midweek race at Warwick Farm and told the owners I thought he could win. “The bookies bet pretty good odds about him that day and everybody concerned was very happy afterwards.” Moyle also related another interesting racing yarn about Stylish Pines, which was part-owned by Provincial RacingNSW’s Allen Hardes. “Stylish Pines was no champion, and won only the one race at Muswellbrook in the early 1990s, and was runner-up over 2400m at Randwick one day,” he said. “The horse had a few problems and we gave him to a teenage girl for pony club events. “Stylish Pines quickly became a good jumper. He went to Europe and took part in the famous Wimbledon horse trials in England, and I understand was subsequently sold for $1m English pounds. “As they say, that’s racing.” A horseman to his bootstraps, Moyle took out his thoroughbred licence in 1977 and, thanks to his trotting days, did his own shoeing, dentistry work, drenching, breaking-in etc with his small team for many years.

A regular at Broadmeadow morning trackwork sessions, Errol Moyle always found time to stop and say hello no matter when. One of nature’s true gentlemen, he will be very sadly missed.