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Heavenly reunion for racing pair
The West Australian

Inseparable in life, Bill Horn has revealed plans for a reunion in death with his great old mate Village Kid.

With his legendary pacer, who died aged 32 last year, to be honoured by the inaugural running of the Village Kid race at Gloucester Park tonight, Horn this week took _The West Australian _ on a trip down memory lane through to the final intimate moments the pair shared.

"When I croak it, I want to be cremated," Horn said.

"Down at the (Kwinana) beach there where we had so much fun working and swimming, I want our ashes to go together. I don't know if there's a heaven … but if there is a heaven, they might have trots there, so I'm taking the best with me."

Horn will return trackside at Gloucester Park tonight with his wife Norma, whom he credits as being the backbone of his success with the horse they knew simply as "Willie".

It will no doubt bring back the memory of that one last special night last year when Village Kid's ageing body and heart finally gave in.

"He was the equivalent, in my book, of a person who was 100," said the sprightly 81-year-old former butcher, who is still training three pacers.

"He didn't get sick, he just got tired. I went down to see him about an hour after he'd had his evening meal and he was laying there in a funny position and he just couldn't get going.

"We managed to get him out of the box, but when I rang the vet, she said she couldn't do anything more. I sat there with him all night, just patting him and with my hand on him. Every now and then he tried to get up, but he couldn't.

"He kept looking up at me as if to say, 'I'm sorry, I've had it'. So I rang the vet again in the morning about five o'clock and told her to bring everything necessary with her. He slowly went to sleep and we all had a tear in our eye."

The Horns will also relive the poignant night at WA's home of pacing when a special song blared out before Village Kid ran his last race in honour of the Make-A-Wish Foundation children's charity. As a 13-year-old that night, he ran the fastest ever 1600m in the world for a pacer of his age.

"The night he retired, when Whitney Houston sang that song I Will Always Love you," Horn recalled. "Whenever I hear that song, and it is a beautiful song, I get a little pitter-patter in my heart to make me think of him."

But Horn also found a smile amid his nostalgic tears as he glanced across the living room to a wooden box containing Village Kid's ashes.

"He always reckoned he should have been in the house and not the stables," he said. "Now he's in the house, he got here in the end."

The naming of tonight's annual race will always remain "really special" to Horn and his family.

Not that he has to go far in his familiar home surrounds to find vivid memories.

"When you walk in the stables, you still feel that he's there," he said.

Village Kid's remarkable racing career featured 93 wins and 37 placings from 160 starts for more than $2.1 million in prizemoney, after his owners bought him in New Zealand for $36,000.

The Northam Harness Racing Club also runs an annual tribute race named the Village Kid Sprint.