Vale Dave Bradford

Respected New Zealand racing journalist and administrator Dave Bradford passed away peacefully in Auckland on Thursday, aged 91. 

Having started out as a cadet reporter with the Thames Star, Bradford moved onto the Rotorua Daily Post before later becoming racing editor of the Auckland Star/8 O’Clock.

A committee member of Auckland Racing Club and Matamata Racing Club, Bradford was the first editor of the New Zealand Racing Annual from early 1970s for MOA Publications. 

He managed Whitford agistment property Lone Oak Lodge, then established Glen Orchard Stud Matamata in partnership with ARC president and New Zealand Racing Conference chairman Arthur Hughes. 

Following the death of first wife Nancey in the early 1980s, he moved to Australia for two years, but returned to New Zealand and joined the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association as executive director in 1986, where he played a big part in overseas trade missions in conjunction with the likes of Labour Government Trade Minister Mike Moore. 

He would later join Magic Millions New Zealand.  

Bradford married wife Sonia in 1987 and together they formed Bradford Publishing, and resumed editorship of Racing Annual, while also racing editor of Sunday News until the mid-2000s. 

Retired to Havelock North in 2012, Bradford was forced by failing health to return to Auckland in late 2023 until his death last week. 

“Dave lived for racing and contributed at many levels, motivated by his love of the sport ahead of monetary reward,” said long-time friend and colleague Dennis Ryan. 

“His distinctive writing style embodied those two essential elements – entertaining and informative – as he combined his natural story-telling ability and broad experience of horses and their people.

“He was a willing mentor to me and numerous others and could always be relied upon for sound advice.

“Dave was always enjoyable company, whether working locally, travelling overseas or socially, and his countless friendships were testament to his warm and caring personality.”

Bradford’s  son Neville describes his father as someone who felt privileged to have lived and worked in the racing and breeding industry.

“It was never work to Dad, racing was what he loved and the bonus was the friendships he made with so many wonderful people through his long life,” he said. “He was forever grateful for the opportunities racing gave him.”

At his own request there will be no funeral, however it is hoped for an opportunity in the near future for family and friends of Dave Bradford to gather in his memory. 

David Bradford, picture Trish Dunell