Gary Alexander saddled his last runner at Turffontein last week and he and brother Dean, and their families, will be immigrating to Australia at month-end.
The Alexanders will be setting up a base at the Murray Bridge training centre in Gifford Hill near Adelaide in South Australia, where there are state-of-the-art training facilities but, bravely, Gary will be starting from scratch after a long and accomplished career in South Africa.
Gary told IOL: “It has been a struggle for the last twenty years in South Africa and during the Covid period we have lost a number of horses and owners. Things are expensive in Australia but the stakes compared to costs are very good.
“Overseas if you get the breaks and are good at what you do I think you can do really well. I think trainers also get a lot more recognition overseas and are better respected in their countries than we are out here. It has not always been like that, in the old days trainers like George Azzie and Syd Laird were legends.”
“I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity especially at my age and I am very excited and looking forward to the challenge.”
While they will have all the support from the racing authorities in Australia, team Alexander will arrive at Murray Bridge without a single horse and they are hoping on some support from their long-time South African patrons and acquaintances in the Adelaide region.
Dean Alexander told the IRC: “This is a massive move for us but we have faith and we’ll be giving it our best shot.” Their sister Julie and mom Marge will remain in South Africa, but really just a reasonably short flight across the waters away in normal times.
The Alexanders have won many of South Africa’s top races and trained a host of top horses including Tommy Hotspur, Mosszao, Ruby Clipper, Clifton King, Brutal Force, Adriactic Port, James Jaguar, Naval Guest, Lady Of The Turf and Timber Trader, and in the 1980s and 1990s were so consistently successful at their Turffontein home base that the track became known as “The Alexander playground”. Their father, Duncan Alexander, a former top jockey, trained for a few years before handing over to Gary in the early 1980s, and the Alexanders became a part of the the fabric of South African racing.
The IRC wishes them all the best in their new venture, and we will keep track of what we know will be a success. They are proper horsemen, and those are the ones who make it anywhere in the world!