Veteran Fraser Downs horseman will be missed

Bill Young is being remembered as ‘a pioneer, mentor and a true advocate’ for the sport of harness racing and Standardbred horses.

Bill Young

Friends and fellow horsemen are mourning the loss of one of Standardbred racing’s elder statesman.

Bill Young has passed away at the age of 88, Harness Racing B.C. announced.

“Bill was a pioneer, a mentor and a true advocate for our sport,” read a short statement posted to Facebook, “and he loved his Standardbred horses.”

The association, which represents owners, breeders, trainers and drivers, said Young will be truly missed by colleagues.

As of late last year, Young was one of eight octogenarians working as trainers in the sporting field of Standardbred horse racing at Fraser Downs Racetrack and Casino in Cloverdale.

Young was one of the pioneers of the original Cloverdale Raceway. The long-time owner and trainer was still turning out winners at Fraser Downs this past racing season.

As recently as Jan. 9, Young had two horses win races, Double Terror, enjoying a career first, and veteran Prairie Illusion, who marked her 24th win in a race card of best fillies and mares.

His favourite horse, Woodmere Windrop, retired and retrained as a riding horse – another example of the versatility of the Standardbred breed.

“Bill was a fearless, passionate, entrepreneurial, astute, direct, optimistic, intelligent, virtuous, loyal, fun loving, sentimental, adventurous man who lived life in the moment,” Janet Nilsson wrote at StandardbredCanada.ca Aug. 5.

“He was a true activist for harness racing.”

Originally from Manchester, U.K., Young first drove a horse at 29, after a stint in the merchant navy, enabling him to sail the world.

He also ran a racing stable of dogs, and drove a truck before moving to Canada, where he gravitated towards harness racing.

He is predeceased by his wife, Marian, and son William.

Bill and Marian Young were both named to the B.C. Harness Racing Hall of Fame for their innumerable contributions to the industry.

They were pioneers who helped foster and grow the sport in Western Canada.

A celebration of life for Bill Young is planned for Sept. 26 from 1-3 p.m. at Fraser Downs Backstretch Restaurant.

Follow the Cloverdale Reporter on Twitter and Facebook. View our print edition online.