Danke - first to get to 300
By Dave Di Somma - Harness News Desk
Durable, hardy, veteran, warhorse – call him what you like – but when 12-year-old trotter Danke lines up in the last at Cambridge on Thursday he’ll also be a record-breaker.
Fittingly, the race is the Celebrating Danke 300th Race Milestone Handicap Trot.
Trained by Geoff Martin in Cambridge, after claiming him in 2016, Danke won’t have it easy. He’ll be off the backmark of 30 metres over 2200 metres.
According to Harness Racing New Zealand statistics, the son of Sundon will become the first standardbred in this country to crack 300 starts.
Danke has raced every season since 2012. His best season was the four wins and $39,983 he won as a 10-year-old in 2018.
Last month Martin said this about his durable square-gaiter : “He is a horse that if he is not in work, he is unhappy. If he’s just in the paddock he sulks.”
“He’s the only horse I train. I have a part-time job as a drainlayer, but I am only doing about 25 hours a week, so it works out pretty good.”
Having won $150,825 from 13 wins, 19 seconds, and 36 thirds Danke is the most raced horse in this country by a few lengths. Second on 274 is Alexy, the country’s busiest pacer. Trained by Denis O’Connell at Waikouaiti, Alexy has had 9 wins and earned just shy of $100,000.
Just 14 horses all-time have raced 200 times.
Trotter Scotleigh is third, on 242, with 19 wins between 1961 and 71, ahead of Motu Speedy Star (235 starts $127,689 14 wins) and Jaspers Blue Jean (230 starts $75,339 4 wins)
Other notable iron horses over the years have been Dave Gibbons’ trotter Idle Scott. He raced for a decade, winning 45 from 209 and $573,080 while Moment of Truth had 200 starts for 29 wins. His 8 wins in 2013 as a 10 year old was his most successful season.
Of those currently racing Danke is followed by Alexy and then Highland Reign with 202 starts (14 wins, $124,292) for trainer Bruce Negus
The most starts ever by an Australian or New Zealand bred horse is Destreos, with a massive 486 starts and 101 wins, including 73 victories at Albion Park in Queensland.
By Melvin’s Speed, Destreos was educated in New Zealand by Steve Phillips before going to trainer Geoff Small. He started his race career at Alexandra Park in January 2006 finishing second to Gotta Go Cullen. He won seven races from 50 starts before going to Aussie in 2008 as a four year old.
Danke will never achieve anything like Destreos has – but he’s still about to do something that has never been done before.