Bromac Lodge and the family of Bob McArdle have been left reeling after the top man died peacefully in his sleep on Wednesday night/Thursday morning.
His interests will be continued by his loving wife Denese, daughter Lisa (with husband Darren), and Austrian-based son Baden (and wife Marianne).
Tributes of the contribution Bob made to shape harness racing in this part of the world have been flowing in recent days as industry personnel come to terms with his sudden departure.
Bob was a valued mentor and friend of myself, and to many.
He was a dynamic and tireless worker, who had no time for negativity.
Bob was full of optimism promoting this year's Bromac Lodge draft around the country for the yearling sales in two weeks.
Outside of breeding foals for the yearling sales, he travelled regularly throughout Australasia, promoting defunct stallion, Falcon Seelster (with chilled semen straws).
He always chuckled about being called "a geriatric semen seller flogging a dead horse."
He also picked up a similar role with Courage Under Fire, and still had straws available for another top defunct sire in Holmes Hanover.
Bob, the 1985 NZ Harness Racing Personality of the Year, was inducted in 2008 to the Addington Hall Of Fame, after devoting a lifetime promoting the standardbred industry.
Things really began to take off for Bob in the 1970s when he and the late Wayne Francis founded Nevele R Stud at Prebbleton.
Bob said it was destiny he and Wayne teamed up.
Wayne was going out with Denese McArdle's friend. She told Wayne that Denese had gone off and married this "crazy" Tasmanian, who nobody knew.
Wayne Francis learned all about Bob in the next few years.
NZ harness racing would learn the rest about this intriguing character over the next 50 years.
Bob first arrived in New Zealand 55 years ago, 10 days before his 21st birthday.
He said he went broke in Auckland a year later and after two years later threw his energy into making a living from something he was familiar with, the equine industry.
Bob had a horse background. He had uncles involved in both horse racing codes and had ridden since aged nine in shows.
He had a competitive edge after showing early sprinting prowess at athletics and had competed in amateur saddle races at non-tote meetings in Tasmania.
Two years on, he sold his first thoroughbred, Little Wendy, to Belgium interests, and she was a winner within a week.
Never one to do things by halves and with a forever youthful spring in his step, he ventured to England and North America, setting up deals.
He sold UK gallopers to the US, notably Northern Daemon from Ireland to Jock Whitney, then publisher of the New York Herald Tribune newspaper, for ,000.
Bob recalled he won his first USA start in world record time at Saratoga on August 3, 1966.
The same year, in California Bob handled a request from California newspaperman Fred Perner, to find three standardbreds to commence the start of night racing there, delivering them for .
He secured 1959 NZ Sapling Stakes winner, Jonroy Star, along with Billy Budd and Globe's Jewel, for California.
"At the time I was going out with Denese and it was an excuse to come back (to NZ) and sort out where we were going to go," Bob said.
He said he made enough from the deal to fly Denese and himself to England to get married.
"I couldn't have afforded to come back to NZ otherwise," he laughed.
Bob was on a roll. On his way to England, he set up a deal in the Philippines to sell 100 horses to the US Air Force for recreation and military purposes.
NZ hacks and old pacers filled the bill to a nicety.
He also sold Billy Marais, a half-brother to an English Derby winner, to Japanese interests, when in the northern Philippines city of Manila.
Bob was able to set up more US harness deals with NZ pacers, jumping on the bandwagon of the success of 1960s NZ trail-blazer Cardigan Bay, including a full plane-load for a new US owner.
He was exporting 100 horses a year on chartered aircrafts.
After essentially being based in England from 1966 until 1969, the McArdles' returned to NZ, spending a year in Auckland, then relocated to Melbourne from 1970 for four years.
In August 1974, Bob was in Christchurch buying NZ Oaks pacing winner Shalimar from the estate of the Francis family, when the suggestion of developing a top-line standardbred stud farm emerged.
Bob recalled he had an option to buy USA stallion Nevele Romeo.
"We (Bob and Wayne Francis) both got a little bit drunk on benedictine one night when I put the suggestion to Wayne to set up a stud farm," Bob said.
"I flew out the next day and left a note at the airport to remind him of our conversation."
"Six weeks later, when I was back in NZ, Wayne asked if I was still interested and we went from there."
The partners settled on the Springs Road, Prebbleton, site for Nevele R, named after the stallion who started the discussion.
From the 1970s, the partners secured a plethora of USA stallions, namely the afore-mentioned Nevele Romeo, Timely Knight (sire of champion mare Armalight), Gerry Mir, Meadow Paige, El Patron, Nat Lobell, Adover Rainbow, Boyden Hanover, Sholty Imp, Besta Fella, Midshipman, Silk Legacy, Bo Scots Blue Chip, Nero's BB, Talk About Class, Holmes Hanover (his brother Michael Jonathon), Andrel, OK Bye, Soky's Atom, Live Or Die, Badlands Hanover, Artiscape, Falcon Seelster and McArdle, along with Australian-based sires, Salute Hanover and Souffle.
Bob played his part in selling Wayne an Australian-bred pacer and subsequent 1977 NZ Cup winner and 1977 NZ Harness Horse of the Year, in Stanley Rio.
Wayne passed from cancer in 1999, and Bob moved on from Nevele R a few year years later to set up commercial broodmare operation, Bromac Lodge, at an adjoining property.
While harness racing was his main business since the 1970s, he achieved an ambition to win a Hobart Cup (Sir Trutone in 1973).
He also sold subsequent Moonee Valley Cup winner Butternut and had the excitement of being at Flemington to see her lead for home in the 1985 Melbourne Cup, eventually finishing fifth to What A Nuisance.
In the harness game, he considered brilliant 1970s pacer Mount Eden as the fastest horse he had seen.
He always had a soft spot for Montini Bromac as one of the best he bred.
Montini Bromac won eight of 16 NZ starts under the tutelage of his good friend, Reg Curtin, before being sold to North America. The horse was instrumental in promoting Timely Knight and Nevele R in the formative 1970s era.
Other good early "Bromac" winners were Yvette Bromac (1981 Nevele R Fillies Final winner), Selby Bromac (2004 South Australian Cup), Swapzee Bromac (Australian Pacing Championship), Tanabi Bromac (2008 Victoria Derby), and 2005 Auckland Cup winner Howard Bromac (17 wins & $628,395).
Over the last 20 years, Bob co-bred Falcon Seelster entire Attorney General (1:48.4, US), formerly NZ's fastest-bred pacer, and Ulrica Bromac (1:49.6, US), formerly the fast NZ-bred female pacer.
Other top latter day Bromac-bred winners include: Smudge Bromac, Aztec Bromac, Jackaroo Bromac, Cruz Bromac, Carter Bromac, Heza Bromac, Tas Man Bromac, Dalton Bromac, Zeta Bromac, Zach Bromac, Tatijana Bromac, Tandias Bromac and Te Amo Bromac.
A great deal maker, Bob was proud to have actively participated in most spheres of racing.
He drove a successful free-legged pacer, sold show horses and won races with steeplechasers, trotters, pacers and flat horses, and sold six-figure yearlings at the sales.
Not many have achieved as much as Bob. Goodbye friend. You will be missed.