Saturday, February 24, 2018

Gold Cup-winning owner Mark dies


FLASHBACK: Guardian Holdings Limited Gold Cup winner Crown Point, with Oswald Pereira aboard, is escorted into the Santa Rosa Park winner’s enclosure by owners Ainsley Mark, left, and Peter Hackett after the five-year-old’s victory in the showcase event on Boxing Day, 2007. The Tobago-bred chestnut, trained by Glenn Mendez, won the 2,000-metre race by 1 1/4 lengths, from Storm Street, Street Charm and Ascot Warrior in a time of 2:10.1. —Photo: CURTIS CHASE

Mark Fraser

GOLD CUP winning owner Ainsley Mark, who won the event with Crown Point, partnered by Oswald Perreira on Boxing Day (December 26) in 2007, is dead. 

Crown Point, jointly owned by Peter Hackett, was a former Triple Crown contender. Mark died on Tuesday afternoon around 4.15 p.m, at Vitas House Hospice. His death has been described as a monumental loss to the industry and the country. 

Mark, who had been ailing for some time with cancer, turned 70 in April, and leaves to mourn his three sons, Kamau, Sekou, Nje, and wife, Claira. The Arima-born Mark, a chartered accountant, founded the accounting firm Mark, Castillo and Tony (MCT) in 1978, which then became Parnell Kerr Foster (PKF) in 2006.

Mark, whose real love was horseracing is best remembered for the exploits with creole Crown Point, who won two legs of the local Triple Crown, in 2005 —the Easter Guineas and the Midsummer Classic with Wilmer Galviz aboard, before finishing second by a neck to Border Dispute in the Trinidad Derby Stakes on September 24 of the same year. Mark, who was also a lecturer at the University of the West Indies was an avid fan, and then graduated to being an owner from a very young age. 

Crown Point’s trainer Glenn Mendez, with whom Mark had horses for several years, spoke with the Express yesterday.

“Very, very simple, no fuss about him,” Mendez said of Mark. “I have been training for him for some time, and he had 100 per cent confidence in his trainers, and understood what horseracing was about.

 “He was humble and loyal,” Mendez added. “He had a big breeding operation going on at the time of his death, and took his knocks on his chin when his horses got beaten, and understood the game. His proudest moment has to be Crown Point just missing the Triple Crown by a nose in 2005, and coming back two years later (2007) to be his crowning moment and proudest moment. That was followed by (Derby runner-up) Galveston’s achievements.”

Mark’s son Kamau, with whom his father shared his horse racing exploits said his first owned runner was Early Warning, which he bought in 1970 when he returned from Canada.

Asked about his father’s standout moment in the sport he blurted out, “Crown Point, which was bred by him and Mr Peter Hackett. He won the Easter Guineas and Midsummer Classic and finished second to Border Dispute in the Derby, but winning the Gold Cup on Boxing Day with Crown Point at 30/1 with Oswald Perreira was his proudest moment, because at that time, Crown Point wasn’t in good form and it was one of the country’s biggest races.” 

Asked about his dad’s favourite rider he said, “whoever rode his horse and comes over the line first is his favourite, he did not have any favourite. He had a few successful runners that he bred in Galveston, Dark Treasure and Drogbar (which) have done fairly well.”

Kamau said he will continue his father’s breeding establishment, Leeclare Stud Farm, at Cumana. 

The funeral service for the former PNM senator, Betting Levy Board member,  community leader, manager of the World Wide Symphony steelband, and founder of the Pan Jazz Festival will be held at Trinity Cathedral, Port of Spain on Monday at 9 a.m, following which he will be laid to rest at the Lapeyrouse cemetery, Tragarete Road, Port of Spain.