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Obituary: Ward-Thomas loses battle after long illness.

Byline: Neil Morrice

MICHAEL WARD-THOMAS, owner-breeder of the 1997 Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Martha's Son, has died after a long illness. He was 78, writes Neil Morrice.

Ward-Thomas, who was also a racecourse steward, was a long-standing patron of the late Tim Forster and also owned Lady Martha, trained by Richard (now Lord) Head. He also enjoyed success with two-mile chaser Amari, also trained by Forster.

Henry Daly, who will give the funeral address, said yesterday: 'I knew him for 18 years and still have a promising horse called Martha's Kinsman, who is out of Martha's Daughter and therefore related to Martha's Son.

'Michael had a horse or two with Dessie Hughes and became interested in racing through his wife, Eve, who had a horse with Gay Kindersley.'

Daly, as assistant to Forster, was closely associated with Martha's Son and recalled his Cheltenham Festival triumph, saying: 'The horse had leg trouble and his prep race at Kempton was more important than ever - only for him to go head over heels at the second fence.

'The Captain [Forster] decided to take him to Bangor for a school and then the night before the Queen Mother there was a fierce debate about whether the horse should run because of the seriously quick ground.

'It was touch and go, but Michael made the right decision and the horse won under Rodney Farrant.'

Daly named the Mumm Melling Chase at Aintree the following month as the horse's finest moment, adding: 'Norman Williamson was on Strong Promise and he couldn't believe his eyes at the speed with which Martha's Son jumped past his horse. Martha's Son destroyed them, but he went wrong in the Peterborough Chase the following year and never ran again.'

Ward-Thomas, whose widow is the thriller-writer Evelyn Anthony, died on Thursday at home in Thaxted, Essex.

Funeral arrangements have yet to be finalised, but it is thought a memorial service will be held in his home town.
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Oct 18, 2004
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