By Jordan Gerrans
In a life dedicated to harness racing, Warwick’s David Millard was celebrating a winner just hours before his sad passing.
The 72-year-old horseman passed away on Monday morning after being a licensed racing participant in Queensland since 1975.
Millard, who trained and drove across his almost five decades in the industry, had battled cancer in recent years, as well as several other ailments in his last few years.
Millard’s passing on Monday morning was just hours before his last ever winner as a trainer, with son Andrew Millard driving Feeling The Power to success on Sunday evening at Redcliffe over 1780 metres.
Millard had been in hospital for some time but that did not stop his constant advice to his son and driver, Andrew, and it paid dividends with a final triumph to bookend his career in the sport.
“He was still giving me pointers up to that day,” Andrew recalled.
“Greg and Bradley, my brothers, were with him that night in hospital and they said to me that he yelled out that I had just won on Feeling The Power.
“He opened up his eyes and he was happy before going back to sleep.
“Racing was always a family affair for him, he got his brothers and cousins involved, Ross and Peter Jackson, our cousins – he got them involved and they are still in the sport to this day.”
David’s wife, Shirley, says the five-year-old pacer's third career win on Sunday night was a special moment for the family.
“It did him proud, winning a race for him the night before he died,” Shirley said.
“He loved harness racing, we had a lot of horses and we had our own training track.
“The boys loved it, he got all the boys involved in racing, as well.”
David first got involved with pacers through Shirley’s family, who introduced him to the code.
His first ever win at Albion Park was with Stormy’s Promise not long after taking out his licence.
Marburg Pacing Association secretary Denis Smith remembered Millard’s contribution to the harness racing industry as a significant one.
“Records only go back to the 1982-83 season, and from then till now, some 85 horses were trained by David Millard," Smith said.
"Some were home-bred, others bought in, and no doubt some belonged to friends.
“David Millard was a gentleman through and through, his sons Andrew and Brad cast in the same mould.
“Their horses were presented as themselves, beautifully turned out and ready to race.
“Like all 'hobbyist' operations you will see gaps in the flow of runners down the years, as the family re-grouped after encountering a run of less talented stock.
“In every aspect of his harness life, David Millard was a winner and last Sunday night just underlined it.”