February 16, 2023 Michael Court
HARNESS racing was his life and Jack Tritton has left quite a legacy in the sport after passing away last week at the age of 95.
Born in August 1927, Jack died on February 9 after a colourful and storied harness racing career.
He lived in the inner western Sydney suburb of Ashfield in his early days.
Then he moved to Lalor Park, Eastern Creek and then settled in Knox Road, Doonside – just down the road from the champion horseman Kevin Newman.
Jack’s father was a punter as well as an ‘SP’ bookie in those early days and they were ‘Leger’ people in this early days . . . and for those too young to remember, the Leger was the other side of the Harold Park track on The Crescent.
For much of his working life, Jack owned and operated a taxi in Sydney.
Yet he was introduced to horses at a young age and began his second life, as a trainer and driver in 1955.
Many would recall that Jack worked for another champion horseman Clarrie Sweeney for many years.
Yet Jack had so much more to offer the light harness sport and in 1980 became one of the trailblazer trainer-drivers that went to Macau when it first made the decision to launch harness racing in that gambling-mad city.
Triton remained there for five years, leaving there in 1985 after driving many winners.
Those horsemen who accompanied Tritton to Macau included fellow Aussies Bruce Cashman, Greg Tsolakis, Jack Kelly, Jack Patrick (SA), Max Evans (SA), Bill Davies (Victoria) and Reg Hubbard (Queensland).
Indeed, one of his strappers in Macau was prominent New Zealand horseman Sean McCaffrey.
Jack returned to Australia and retired at Richmond before moving house to Queensland with his late wife Phyllis, deciding to love there to be near one of his daughters.
And here’s an interesting piece of trivia for you, Jack Tritton was accredited with inventing the running headcheck, that is still used today.
Jack trained and drove many good horses over the years.
Probably his best pacer was Sportfolio, that won 11 races, including three at Harold Park in 1967 and 1968.
Another favourite was Brown Gown, who won him nine races, including two at Harold Park in mid-1969.
One of his winners was Eurasion, who won a 2.27-class pace at Penrith for Jack on September 25, 1965 at the juicy odds of 100/1.
Ironically, Jack passed away in the same retirement complex where former trainer-driver Paul Flemming was also living in (he sadly passed away last December).
Jack Tritton is survived by his son, trailblazing trainer and driver now residing in America, Peter, as well as daughters Janet (Thorn) and Deborah, and grandsons who are making their mark in the sport . . . Shane Tritton and David Thorn, as well as other family members.
Jack Tritton’s funeral will take place in Queensland on Monday.
– Additional reporting from Club Menangle historian Peter Collier