Alexy ready for 300th start
By Jonny Turner
History will be made at Forbury Park tonight when Waikouaiti pacer Alexy becomes just the second horse in modern-day harness racing to start 300 times in New Zealand.
The Denis O’Connell trained veteran will notch a triple century of racetrack appearances when stepping out in race 5.
The 11-year-old has already delivered plenty of thrills for his trainer and the group of his family members that race the rugged pacer.
By 6.51 pm tonight Alexy will add a most unique achievement to his lengthy resumé.
“He has been a grand old horse for us,” O’Connell said.
“He has given us a lot of thrills and a lot of pleasure.”
A steady regime of beach work has kept Alexy bringing home winner’s cheques since he joined the O’Connell stable in January of 2016.
The veteran is no late bloomer, having stepped out as a 2yr-old for original trainer Mark Jones in 2012 and then racing in every harness racing season since.
Alexy won once for Jones and once for O’Connell’s brother-in-law Bruce Negus before winning a further eight times after shifting to Waikouaiti.
O’Connell puts the horse’s longevity down to him being able to shrug off any adversity quickly.
“He is a real iron horse – he is very, very tough,” O’Connell said.
“Nothing seems to worry him, he seems to get over any problems very quickly.”
He may be something of a fan favourite, but Alexy is not always popular with other horses.
Alexy does not just impose his will on the track with determined performances each week.
The 11-year-old likes to be top dog and is quick to show other horses that with a quick draw of his back legs.
“The big thing is at any stable he is always the boss,” O’Connell said.
“He likes to dominate any new horse that comes around.”
“He has a cunning way of doing it, he doesn’t go up to them and give them any cheek.”
“He just walks over and he puts his neck out and his ears back.”
“If there is any nonsense he is pretty quick to give them both barrels.”
“He likes to be the boss.”
Alexy will join Cambridge trotter Danke in the 300-start club tonight.
Danke was the first horse to start 300 times since harness racing records were collated when he stepped out on his home track as a 12yr-old in his last outing in June.
With Danke not having raced since then, Alexy requires just one more start beyond tonight’s race to hold the all-time record for starts in New Zealand.
Alexy goes into tonight’s event after running eighth at Addington last week.
Some light work at Waikouaiti beach, which O’Connell light-heartedly refers to as ‘surfing’ has the pacer ready to give his best.
“He is working OK, he hasn’t done much since he last raced at Addington on Saturday night.”
“He has just been surfing since then.”
“He seems to be happy enough.”
Alexy lines up alongside his stablemate, Pete’s Dash, in tonight’s 2200m event.
O’Connell also starts another seasoned pacer in race 8 in 10yr-old Four Starzzz Shiraz.
Though with 150 starts to his name he could be considered just a baby when compared with Alexy.