Racing industry mourns Tasmanian icon

Tuesday 11 December 2018

TASMANIA lost one of its icons last week when former Purity Supermarket boss and horse racing tragic Michael Kent died suddenly.

Mr Kent, who was chairman of Tote Tasmania during its role as the racing industry’s governing body, died aged 76.

He was an astute businessman who began his involvement in the retail industry packing shelves at Purity Supermarkets that later became part of the Woolworths empire.

Mr Kent worked his way up from the bottom to eventually rise to assume the role of CEO of the supermarket chain.

He played a dominant role in the reform of shop trading hours as he led a successful campaign to secure seven-days-a-week retail trading.

As a director of the Tasmanian Football League, he was a mover and a shaker in the state’s quest to secure a team in the AFL.

He had many other business interests and the common thread throughout his working life was his integrity and ability to make things happen.

When he moved to the East Coast he became actively involved in local issues that eventually led to him becoming Mayor of the Glamorgan Spring Bay Council, a position he held until the most recent council election.

Tributes have poured in from most of the state’s industry leaders, which is a testament to Mr Kent’s popularity and likeability.

But he is best remembered as a man of the people, someone who was always willing to lend a helping hand and he was definitely someone who was prepared to roll up his sleeves to get the job done.

His love of horse racing led to him owning many gallopers, some with ability and others not so talented.

On Hobart Cup Day this year, he had the pleasure of standing in the winner’s circle when Rusty Devil, prepared by Stephen Lockhart, scored an impressive win. Michael loved the thrill of watching his horses’ race and he was still content when they weren’t able to win.

On the first Tuesday last month he realised a long-time dream when his handy front-running galloper Runaway, trained by Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott, contested the 2018 Melbourne Cup.

Even though Runaway was unable to place in the Melbourne Cup, just having a runner in the race ticked a top order item on his bucket list.

Mr Kent will be sadly missed by all who had the pleasure of making his acquaintance, especially those in the racing industry.

A private funeral service will be held later this week.

Words By Peter Staples.