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Racing loses Stiven and her bright smile

DON WRIGHT Sep 04 2012 Tapanui identity Noreen Stiven, who died in Gore on Saturday, aged 70, will be remembered as much for her infectious smile and warmth of welcome as her outstanding success as a harness racing breeder and owner.

Portrait of Noreen Stiven
Noreen Stiven. © James Jubb

She will also be remembered as much for her fighting spirit against a prolonged and serious illness she once described as "an acute form of leukemia.''

New Zealand's leading harness trainer Mark Purdon of All Stars Barn Rolleston, told the Southland Times yesterday that his popular client was a ''truly lovely person who was always a pleasure to train for.''

Purdon said she "knew how to take the good with the bad and accept all developments in racing.''

Her home-bred Arden Lodge products Arden's Darlin', winner of $245,829 and New Zealand 2007-2008 2-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year, and well-performed Southwind Arden, (eight wins and 21 placings) were two standouts Purdon trained for her.

Another of her products Arden Tetrick (Bettor's Delight-Arden's Dream) gained eight wins and 12 placings when trained by Purdon for John Pitman, Glenys and Phil Kennard and Terry and Adrienne Taylor. All six of Arden's Dream's raced progeny were winners.

Mrs Stiven's husband Doug, who died in September 2001 with a brain tumour after hardly a day's sickness, had wanted his wife and son John to sell up the operation.

However, they decided to press on and have made a first class fist of the operation. They consigned Rockahula Arden (Rocknroll Hanover-Ardenart) to this year's Premier Yearling Sale in Christchurch. John bought the royally-bred youngster back for $50,000.

Mrs Stiven, who devoted countless hours to assisting the Gore workouts, bought the broodmare Winter Rose from Jim and Susan Wakefield to bolster the Arden Lodge broodmare band.

She and John sold Arden's Place, an Artsplace colt from her, for $110,000 at the 2007 Sale of the Stars.

Winter Rose, who was named Southland Broodmare of the Year recently, earlier left $900,000 winner Bettor's Strike, winner of the Victoria Cup and second to Monkey King in the New Zealand Cup.

Staff at PGG Wrightson Christchurch acclaimed Mrs Stiven as "a greatly valued client and sales vendor.''

Senior staff member Bruce Barlass said her warmth of welcome and hospitality were trademarks of her qualities as a citizen and horse breeder.

"A few of us went down south a few months ago on Sales business and we spent some valuable time with Noreen, even out in the paddocks,'' he said.

"She was always the greatest hostess. Any time you pulled up in the car outside her house, you were given a wonderful smile. She will be remembered by all as a very warm and gracious lady.''

Her husband Doug was an inaugural member of the NZ Sires' Stakes Board, a president of the Tapanui Racing Club, Southland Standardbred Breeders' Association and Gore Harness Racing Club.

He was a meticulous and energetic man, qualities his wife and son strikingly demonstrated when they took over the Arden Lodge operation.

Doug bred and handled Arden Meadow whom he sold to Perth, where he won the West Australian Pacing Derby. Jay Bee's Fella, bred by Doug's Tapanui mate, Blake Eskdale, was runner up to him in that classic.

Mister Gaines, the winner of six races on end, was also nurtured by Doug.

"I am sure Doug would be pleased with what we have managed to do after he achieved so much,'' Mrs Stiven said two years ago of her late husband. She and son John went into partnership in 2001 after Doug's death.

One of Doug's first sales purchases at the Southland Sale was Bayswater, closely related to Cardigan Bay. From her, the Stivens bred Arden Bay, winner of the Kindergarten Stakes for trainer Brian O'Meara. A butcher by trade, Doug operated a milk run in the Tapanui locality.

Mrs Stiven recently recalled that Arden's Darlin' was passed in at the national Premier Sale in Christchurch after no bids were forthcoming. The reserve was $30,000.

The Stiven mother and son partnership took her home, had her educated by Maurice Kerr at Gore and sent her to Mark Purdon and Grant Payne at Rolleston to become NZ 2-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year.

Mrs Stiven was understandably proud of her son for following in his father's footsteps, demonstrating the commitment and expertise that has established their operation alongside Tuapeka Lodge Stud, Lawrence, as major contributors to West Otago's world-wide reputation as a nursery of talented horses in both codes.

As long as harness horses are running around West Otago, the influence of Noreen and Doug Stiven will always be present in some shape or form.


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