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Admirers share personal memories of Falcon Almahurst
Friday, August 26, 2005 - by Dean A. Hoffman

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Dr. Bill Paull was with Charlie Hill at Tattersalls in 1976 the night that Falcon Almahurst sold as a yearling, and Paull was the veterinarian who euthanized Falcon Almahurst this past Sunday.

 

As the farm manager at Hill Farm in the 1970s, Paull supervised the start of Falcon Almahurst’s breeding career. He now operates Timber Rock Farm, but he has had a personal interest in the well being of his old buddy. When the infirmities of old age finally became too much for the 30-year-old stallion, it was Paull who had the responsibility to put him to sleep.

 

Falcon Almahurst retired as the fastest 3-year-old in harness racing history on both a mile and half-mile track. He won the Meadowlands Pace and a heat of the Jug, and gained a measure of revenue for that Jug loss when his son BJ Scoot won the 1988 Jug. Falcon Almahurst was the dominant pacing sire in Ohio for many years.

 

Photo by Sandy Ishler 

Mark Kuffel was proud to call Falcon Almahurst his friend. This photo was taken recently of the 30-year-old stallion who died on Sunday.
“I remember the night that Falcon sold as a yearling,” says Paull. “John Simpson, Sr. of Hanover Shoe Farm was sitting right in front of Charlie [Hill] and he turned and said, ‘Charlie, you’ve been looking for a son of Meadow Skipper. Here’s one you ought to buy.”

 

Hill bought the yearling for $150,000, making the colt the highest priced yearling of that season. Paull recalls that the late John Hayes, Sr., former president of Standardbred Canada, was very interested in Falcon, too.

 

Paull followed Falcon closely during his racing days, of course. After Falcon became the fastest 3-year-old ever in the fall of ‘78, Paull was looking at yearlings in Hanover with the colt’s trainer Billy Haughton. Falcon was entered to race at Liberty Bell Park, but Haughton got a call from owner Charlie Hill. He wanted to retire Falcon immediately.

 

“Billy came back out cussing,” laughs Paull. “Billy wanted to race Falcon. He didn’t want to let down Jimmy Lynch, the race secretary at Liberty Bell, but Charlie was adamant that he wanted to retire Falcon.”

 

After Hill Farm closed its operations, Falcon stood at Midland Acres for several years. He was then moved back to Hill Farm and was pensioned, but the person entrusted with his care wasn’t feeding the old warrior adequately. Jerry Knappenberger of the Ohio Harness Horsemens Assn. realized that something had to be done and contacted Lavern Hill, widow of Charlie Hill. She called Paull and he arranged for Falcon to move to Autumn Breeze Farm near Delaware, Ohio.

 

Sandy Ishler and her partner Mark Kuffel operate Autumn Breeze Farm. When Kuffel first saw the thin old stallion, he said to Ishler, “Holy, Moses! I can’t believe you agreed to take this horse in.”

 

From that moment on, Falcon Almahurst was nicknamed “Mo” (short for “Moses”) by Ishler and Kuffel.

 

We began feeding him by the handfuls so that we wouldn’t colic,” Ishler recalls. “Within four months, he looked like a new horse.”

 

Ishler says that Falcon quickly learned his nickname, and when she’d call out “Mo” each morning the old horse would nicker at her.

 

“He always got fed before any of the other horses here,” she said.

 

Like many men, Kuffel enjoys a beer at the end of his work day and he allowed Falcon Almahurst to share a beer once. Afterwards, the two shared a beer as part of their evening happy hour ritual.

 

“Shoot, we have a neighbor who has racehorses, and he made it a point to come down on Christmas Eve and drink a beer with Mo,” says Ishler.

 

“I know this horse touched a lot of lives, but not as deeply as he touched mine,” continues Ishler. “I did everything humanly possible to make him comfortable. Both Mark and I spent hours on end with him. We loved this horse like no other. He was still a happy horse until the end. It was just that his body couldn’t endure any longer.

 

“He had such a great personality,” she says of Falcon Almahurst. “He is missed already.”


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