Vale Ken Dixon
After being involved in training for more than 50 years, Ken Dixon has died in Christchurch after a battle with cancer.
Responsible for the development of top class horses including Makati Galahad and Whale Of A Tale, Dixon was originally a Winton sheep farmer and very much a hobby trainer before retiring and moving north to Prebbleton just outside Christchurch around 17 years ago.
After starting out in the 1970s he had 57 training successes, and drove 27 winners. His last winner was Sheer Class at Invercargill in 2017 when driven by Brent Barclay, while his last success as a driver was behind four race winner Taurus Chief at Gore in 1989.
"He was always on the look out for a nice horse," says son Mike, "and he always thought he had a Cup horse until he was proven wrong."
On two occasions he was in fact right.
A nine race winner, Whale of a Tale was sixth in the 1996 New Zealand Cup won by Il Vicolo and third in the Free For All three days later behind Iraklis and Brabham. He also won the Junior Free For All on New Zealand Cup day in 1995.
Makati Galahad had 14 wins from 43 starts, though 11 of them where when trained by Fred Fletcher. Under Fletcher's guidance he made it to the 2001 New Zealand Cup but galloped and finished last, only to emulate Whale Of A Tale and finish third in the Group 1 Free For All.
Dixon trained the horse at the start of his career for 10 starts and then later in 2003.
Other top performers Dixon trained included West Australian Derby winner Richard Henry, seven race winner Historic Moment, Normie who won two from three for Dixon before winning another 14 in Australia, and New Energy, who had four wins from nine starts for Dixon before being exported to Australia. He won 13 from 68 overall.
It's fair to say Dixon loved a bargain.
"I think the most expensive horse he bought was $20,000," says Mike, "he got Makati Galahad for $1000."
All told the son of Tyler's Best accrued $122,729 in this country for trainers Dixon, John Hay and Fletcher.
As a man and father Dixon was "himself", according to Mike.
"He was his own man."
Known as being an upfront character, he was not afraid to stand up for the issues he believed in including taking HRNZ to court (and winning) just a few years ago over what he thought was an unfair ruling.
Survived by his wife Erin and sons Mike and Ben, Ken Dixon was 78.
A memorial service will be held at the Waihora Rugby Club at Tai Tapu near Christchurch next Monday, July 3 at 2pm.
It can be seen at : https://youtube.com/live/v9Y2vlpsnLU?feature=share
or by using a qr code on a phone