A gentleman, sportsman and a very good amateur rider of the Corinthian era, Alex Murdoch very sadly passed away on Saturday aged 82.
The Murdoch name is synonymous with Comber. The family have for decades grown vegetables and produced barley at the Castle Lane Farm while also making ground available in years past for the very popular North Down point-to-point traditionally on Aintree Grand National day.
Alex, was always ultra-fair in his dealings and having bought the Unicarnval estate to extend his farming interests, he immediately offered any farmers with adjoining land the opportunity to buy bits of ground at cost price if they wished to purchase. Fellow farmers could always rely on him if short of materials, plants or machinery to help them out.
After a long day’s work the horses came next and he continued to ride out after many had hung up their boots. The sixties was a golden time for Alex and his late wife Dorothy who bred 2007 Galway Plate winner Sir Frederick, while Castle King, Greek Lad and Snow Marshall were all top horses in their respective fields.
The last named won his maiden hunter chase just prior to Laffy winning the Ulster Grand National in 1962, however an enquiry from the Grand National winning owner, the late Queen Mother to see if the horse was for sale, found the answer was a no.
It was the correct call with the chestnut gelding progressing to win the prestigious Sweet Afton Cup at Dundalk and the Joseph O’Reilly Trophy at Fairyhouse.
In the 1980’s Wolitico was a multiple point-to-point winner and Highlight Lad was a high-class bumper horse who was partnered by Alex on many occasions.
Both parents were very proud of the careers of their children, their son Andrew became a major figure in Formula 1 motor racing and their daughter, Julia became a physiotherapist. She also followed in her parents footsteps and rode in point-to-points with the highlight happening at Craigantlet when Julia on Hillmount won beating her father into second on Ballyalla.
Alex is survived by his sisters Eleanor and Nan, son Andrew and daughter, Julia. He will be greatly missed by his very many friends and condolences are offered to the family circle.
Funeral arrangements: family home strictly private and burial at 2pm Comber cemetery on Thursday with social distancing and face masks recommended.
(The above are the very kind words of Ron McKnight)
Below is a video of Alex winning aboard Hillmount at Taylorstown Point-to-Point in 1992.