Harold Richter was born at Reeves Plains in South Australia in 1888 and at the age of 14 he rode The Professor to victory at Port Pirie for his father Martin who was a farmer who treated trotting as a profitable sideline.
Martin Richter ran a stud farm and bred and reared the likes of Some Wood, Idol Poko, Idol bits, Idol Chimes, Silver Princess, Maori Chimes and Idol Bess from his stallions Patchen Chimes and Idolwood.
Martin Richter was a regular competitor on the show circuit in South Australia and was President of the Reeves Plains small bore rifle club in 1906 while 18yo Harold Richter filled the role of secretary. His brother M H Richter was a leading coursing judge in South Australia.
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Martin Richter took the good mare Alice May and Prince Louis to a meeting at Richmond in Victoria on 7th March 1913 and with Harold Richter at the reins recorded three wins and a second placing. Prince Louis provided Martin Richter with his first four winners in Perth when he moved here permanently in 1915 leaving is son in South Australia.
Harold Richter had by this time begun to enhance his reputation as a superb judge of pace and he rode the majority of his horses due to the small size of tracks in South Australia. The bulk of the horses that Harold Richter was racing at this time were stock he had bred and educated himself.
Harold Richter had married on 18th October 1913 and he and his wife Muriel ran the family farm with trotting only becoming a focus after the crops had been harvested. Richter continued to compete on the South Australian show circuit and his reputation as a master horseman blossomed as his team was largely made up of young horses.
After the younger Richter had developed the horses those with better ability were sent to his father in Perth to continue their careers. Martin Richter returned to Adelaide periodically for a holiday and he competed as a 73yo at the 1929 Adelaide Show. He had ridden in the very first trotting race run at an Adelaide Show many years earlier.
Harold Richter had won races in Perth on his infrequent trips west bringing horses for his father to train but after this trip Martin Richter and his son decided, like the Kersley family at around the same time, that the lack of a totalisator in South Australia and the greater racing opportunities, better prize-money and the soon to be opened Brennan Park track in Perth made the shift worthwhile.
Adelaide’s loss was to be Perth’s gain.
After a winning treble at Thebarton on 24th May 1924 The News had waxed lyrical about Harold Richter – the most skilful pilot in South Australia.
“Trotting men regard Richter as one of the foremost reinsmen in Australia. He has a seat that is almost perfect, remarkably good hands, and sound judgement where pace is concerned. This combination enables him to exert a powerful influence over horses and produce them at top form”.
After the announcement of the likely trip west, the Register-News of 20th September 1929 again came to the fore in praising Richter.
“Spectators at the show yesterday were treated to a masterly exhibition of riding by Harold Richter of Reeves Plains. He has been a prominent figure in trotting circles for many years and has ridden or driven scores of trotters and pacers to victory”.
The move west was completed late in 1930 and Harold Richter ‘s first winner in Perth after the move was Findon Derby at Brennan Park in May 1931.
He settled on a farm at Grass Valley near Northam and later developed a stable in East Perth for when his horses were racing in the city. His first local champion was the superbly bred Kolect which WATA President J P Stratton had bred from the champion mare Kola Girl.
Stratton leased Kolect to Richter and the 23 races the stallion won included 20 in Perth and the 1938 WA Pacing Cup. It was to be the first of four WA Pacing Cup wins for Richter and others followed in 1941 with Kolrock, 1947 with Dark David and 1955 with David’s Reward.
Kolect died in September 1949 at Richter’s Grass Valley property. When he retired Kolect was the tightest assessed WA Bred horse in Perth being on a 2:05 mark with only the 1940 Inter Dominion winner Grand Mogul being tighter assessed on a 2:04 mark. Richter’s love of Kolect was legendary and an exchange in a Perth court reinforced this view.
Richter was being quizzed by counsel representing his wife in a matter involving separation and maintenance when the lawyer made the remark “Isn’t Kolrock the horse you told the Lieutenant Governor you loved more than your wife?” Richter’s response was to the point. “No – that was Kolect”.
The 1941 WA Pacing Cup winner Kolrock was bred by Richter being a son of Kolect from Miss Rock and in winning the Cup Richter became the first person to breed, own, train and drive the winner of the Cup.
Richter also trained the 1951 WA Derby winner Telluride which won the WA Sires Produce Stakes just five days after his Derby triumph prompting the local press to claim “Few other trainers produce their horses as fit as Harold Richter”.
His ability to produce a horse capable of winning first-up was renowned and invariably they were heavily supported and normally got the money.
On 15th April 1949 Harold Richter became the first driver to wear clear plastic jacket and trousers over his driving silks in a race in Perth.
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