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Canadian Hall of Famer R.J. Bennett Dies at 94

R.J. Bennett campaigned Travelling Victor, Canadian Horse of the Year in 1983.

Canadian Hall of Famer R.J. Bennett

Canadian Hall of Famer R.J. Bennett

Patti Tubbs

Russell "R.J" Bennett, a widely successful owner and breeder in British Columbia and a member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame with his wife, Lois, has died. He was 94.

Along with Lois, Russ Bennett, involved in Thoroughbred racing since the 1950s, long dominated the breeder standings in British Columbia. Their racing stable similarly excelled, resulting in graded stakes victories from Lord Nelson, Majesticality, and Touching Promise since the turn of the century. All three homebreds scored their graded stakes victories at Hastings Racecourse, with Lord Nelson and Touching Promise respectively winning back-to-back renewals of the 2002-03 Lieutenant Governors' Handicap (G3) and 2014-15 Ballerina Stakes (G3).

Years before, R.J. Bennett campaigned Travelling Victor, who made history in 1983 when he became the first horse not campaigned in Ontario to win Horse of the Year honors in Canada. He also won a Sovereign Award that year in the older horse category, and the R.J. Bennett took home a Sovereign award as breeder of the year in 1983.

A member of The Jockey Club of Canada for almost 40 years, R.J. Bennett and Lois Bennett were inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2007. In 2016, they received the prestigious E. P. Taylor Award of Merit.

The year before, Touching Promise was named Horse of the Year and champion older mare in British Columbia, when the Bennetts also notched leading breeder and owner titles there—regular occurrences for the couple.

At that time, they owned more than 40 broodmares and maintained a population of more than 100 Thoroughbreds at their Flying Horse Farm on the shores of Okanagan Lake in Westbank, British Columbia. Not Bourbon currently stands there.

The Bennetts are credited with breeding and campaigning thousands of horses, supporting the British Columbia equine industry. R.J. Bennett served as president of the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society (B.C. Division) from 1991-94.

Other top runners for the Bennetts included Brandy Magic, Skovinsky, Historical Devil, Tasty Victory, Supberly Honest, Darcia, Travelling Round, Easy Triumph, Hurried Romance, Billy Blue, Lively Lord, and Always a Dixie.

David Milburn, president of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association of British Columbia, told Nigel Reid of Horseracing BC that "R.J.'s contribution to racing and breeding throughout our province is unlikely ever to be equaled, either in longevity or impact."

R.J. Bennett is survived by Lois Bennett and adult children and will be remembered for his contributions to horse racing and breeding.

-This story will be updated with arrangements when that information is available.