The Central Districts has lost one of its most likeable characters with the passing of start attendant Brian “Monk” Peta.
The 63-year-old suffered a heart attack at Trentham racecourse on Saturday and passed away on Sunday night at Lower Hutt hospital.
His loss will be felt by many within the racing community, with his cheeky grin and jovial character having met jockeys at the starting gates for several decades.
“He has been on the gates for about 20 years roughly,” Central Districts starting gate manager Bill Babbington said.
“He was an assistant starter for the racing club (before that). I was short of a worker, so I asked him if he wanted to work on the starting gates and he has been with me ever since.”
A familiar face on the racecourse, racing was Peta’s biggest passion in life, he loved his job on the gates and always enjoyed having a punt.
“He leaves a big hole in the starting gate team,” Babbington said. “He was a likeable person, a character and a good joker.
“He liked his betting and drinking. He got on with the guys really well. He was committed to the job, he loved the job too much.
“Whether he was crook or not, he wouldn’t let the starting gates down. He has always been that person, very reliable.”
Hailing from Foxton, Peta travelled widely throughout the lower North Island as part of the start crew and easily formed solid friendships wherever he went.
“He was well liked within the industry,” Babbington said. “Everywhere we would go he would make good friends. He knew a lot of people in the racing game.”
His loss is already being felt by his close mates on the gates and Babbington said it is a deeply sad time for his closely-knit team.
“It’s a big loss personally because he’s my cousin,” Babbington said. “It’s going to affect all the (start) boys.”
Peta’s tangi will take place at Paranui Marae near Himatangi, however, final details are yet to be confirmed. – NZ Racing Desk