By Julieanne Horsman
Patience is finally paying off for the owners of Red Axe who, at five years-old, will have just his fourth career race start at Quirindi on Tuesday.
The Red Giant x Millvstroem gelding broke through for his maiden win at Tamworth on 15th May. With apprentice Wendy Peel in the saddle, Red Axe went forward and no-one could catch him. He kicked away to win the 1000m dash by almost three lengths in colours designed specifically for him.
“It was a really good win, especially since it was only his second run back from a long spell,” trainer Cody Morgan said. “He just needed a bit of race fitness and I’m glad he’s got his maiden out the way.”
Red Axe will be aiming for a repeat in the Les Howard CG&E Class 1 Handicap over 1200m at Quirindi on Tuesday. He’s up against three other last start winners, including stablemate Pat’s Nipper.
“It’s a pretty strong race,” Morgan said. “I think there are 4-5 genuine winning chances and I’ve got two of them. I would prefer 1100m for Red Axe and 1300m for Pat’s Nipper but this is the most suitable race I could find for them.
“They’ve got completely different racing patterns. Red Axe needs to be up in the first three. He’s got a high cruising speed but not much of a turn of foot. Pat’s Nipper will be flashing home late.
“With Wendy’s 3kg claim Red Axe is well weighted and they’re starting to get comfortable with each other.”
While Morgan is confident Red Axe will win more races, his pre-race behaviour needs some improvement and the young trainer is hoping the addition of ear muffs will help.
“He just melted in the yard at Tamworth,” Morgan said. “I told the owners horses rarely parade like that then come out and win but he did. He’s got ability but he’s got to parade better if he is going to go through his grades. I’m looking forward to seeing how he goes tomorrow though.”
When you come across a horse with only three starts under his belt at the age of five, you know he has a story to tell. Red Axe’s is more complicated than most.
Denman-based owner Russell Yelverton bought a 50% share in Red Axe on the advice of friend and trainer Patrick Busuttin after an impressive trial at Matamata, New Zealand. He was flown across the Tasman to Queensland in May 2015, but despite every effort he never really settled in.
Red Axe made his debut on the Sunshine Coast in February 2017 but finished a disappointing 11th of 13. An ownership dispute followed and wasn’t resolved until November 2017 when Yelverton bought out the other original owners and formed a new ownership group.
Yelverton brought Red Axe home to his property in Denman and together with his partner Carley, began hand feeding him around the clock to increase his condition. By January 2018 the horse was ready to go into work with Cody Morgan. He received regular massages and visits from the chiropractor and it wasn’t long before the horse was keeping the Tamworth trainer, who has a rodeo background, on his toes.
“He’s not easy to train,” Morgan said. “Early on he bucked me off and I ended up in the emergency department. I forgive him though because he’s already exceeded my expectations. To be honest his work isn’t great but he finds another gear on race day.”
After all that, Yelverton and the nine other owners are looking forward to seeing what Red Axe can do.
“We have high hopes for Red’s racing career,” he said. “It would be a dream to eventually see him graduate to city class but we will just have to wait and see.”