Veteran pacer breaks his own winning record

The favourite, Tease My Tartan (right), led all the way during the first race at Forbury Park...
The favourite, Tease My Tartan (right), led all the way during the first race at Forbury Park yesterday, only to be beaten in the last few strides by Muscle Power. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Veteran pacer Alexy wrote a record into the final chapter in the history of Forbury Park with his fast-finishing win at the track yesterday.

The Waikouaiti trained 11-year-old became the most experienced winner at the Dunedin track — and any other track across New Zealand — when he clinched victory in race 5 with a late dive.

Already New Zealand’s most experienced harness horse, Alexy extended his own record as the country’s most experienced winner when scoring in his 317th start.

The evergreen pacer set the record by winning in his 281st start in August of last year.

Six of Alexy’s 10 seasons of racing and eight of his 10 wins have come from trainer Denis O’Connell’s Waikouaiti stable.

After those years together and their treks up and down the South Island to race meetings, the thrill of winning has not faded.

If anything it has got stronger.

"That was a great effort. He really finished it off strong. I was so thrilled," O’Connell said.

"In fact, it brought a tear to my eye, to be honest."

Alexy did not come into yesterday’s 2200m event in the form of his life, having run eighth and 10th in his two previous starts.

His win was a case of the veteran bringing the kind of form he had shown in his recent trackwork at Waikouaiti Beach to the races.

"He has been working a treat, but he hasn’t been racing as well as I have been expecting to recently," O’Connell said.

"I have been expecting better and he showed his old class on his favourite track.

"I was very proud of the old boy."

With Alexy thriving in his work at home, his owners — O’Connell and his brothers, Daniel, Gerald, Eugene and his wife Pru, as well as well as the trainer’s sister, Joan Braam — are not likely to retire him any time soon.

The pacer’s career has outlived those of many of his rivals over his 10 seasons on the track and it is set to outlive the Forbury Park track, which is slated for closure at the end of the current racing season.

As long as the horse is happy in his work, O’Connell will continue to campaign the pacer across the South Island.

"If he carries on working the way he is we will keep on trucking with him.

"When he starts telling us he has had enough it will be the end of the road for him racing."

Alexy was patiently handled by driver Nathan Williamson, who sat him off a hotly contested speed before perfectly timing his late-closing finish.

The pacer is scheduled to race at Winton on Saturday, but that will depend on how many rating points he collects for yesterday’s win.

- By Jonny Turner

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