Chris Luoni, one of the driving forces behind the establishment of the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame and a past chairman has passed away in Hamilton overnight after a battle with illness. Luoni, an accountant by profession, had been an avid racing fan since his teenage years following the fortunes of his father George’s high-class racehorse of the 1970s, Happy Union.
He experienced success as a breeder and owner with horses such as stakes winners Ma Danseuse and Oliverdance, and he also raced Group 2 winner Balrani. Luoni combined his skills as an accountant and passion for racing and breeding and framed many of the current rules in place for the racing industry, specialising in breeding and GST areas, while also consulting to the Australian racing industry on those areas.
“Chris was the instigator of the Hall Of Fame,” long-time friend and past Hall Of Fame chairman Gerald Fell said. “Without his enthusiasm, it wouldn’t have got off the ground. “He had been to the Racing Hall Of Fame dinner in Adelaide and suggested the idea, and between us we founded it. “For many years, he thumped the table about claiming GST, which we now get in New Zealand, if you are registered for racing. “He also helped the Australians when they brought in GST too.
“I had the greatest respect for Chris. He was passionate about the racing and breeding industry and was a great contributor.” Luoni is survived by wife Rosanna, who is originally from Canada, while daughter Michelle is the Executive Officer for the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame. Along with his wife, Luoni operated Woodbine Farm just out of Hamilton, which was home to champion racehorse The Phantom Chance for 16 years in retirement.