Investment in the South Australian racing industry is paying dividends with the arrival of leading South African training partnership Gary and Dean Alexander, who are relocating their operations to the training centre of excellence being developed at Murray Bridge.
The multiple Group 1-winning trainers decided last year to move their base from South Africa’s premier racecourse, Turffontein in Johannesburg, to South Australia, with the development of the world-class facilities at Murray Bridge a deciding factor in the move.
With more than 1500 winners in a career spanning more than 30 years, Gary and his younger brother Dean formed one of South Africa’s most formidable stables.
The pair will now set up at Morphettville until the end of 2021 while they wait for completion of their facilities at Murray Bridge. They have acquired seven boxes initially and will look to increase to 15 in the first few months, which will have a direct impact on the creation of local jobs.
Having now completed mandatory quarantine, Dean Alexander said the pair are excited about commencing the next stage of their career in South Australia as they look to replicate the success they had in South Africa.
“My first impressions of Adelaide were great. I must be honest, very different to what I thought initially, but it (Adelaide) surprised me in a lovely way, a very positive way, and I’m looking forward to living here and being part of it,” he said.
“Racing in Australia in general is so strong and buoyant. There’s a great team doing a lot for racing in South Australia to help grow it and that’s fantastic. Also, the Government is supporting it which is fantastic.
“I think you’ll see racing over here over the next few years will just keep going up and it will be great to be part of that.”
After visiting Morphettville for the first time last week, Gary Alexander said the duo could see plenty of opportunity in SA Racing.
“I’m quite impressed with the set up and it’s a good start until we get our permanent residence up at Murray Bridge,” he said.
“Dean will be building up a team of local staff and I’ll be concentrating on the horses for a while.”
Racing SA CEO Nick Redin said attracting such a well-credentialed international stable to SA is recognition of the significant progress being made following a joint Marshall Liberal Government and industry funding commitment made in 2019.
“The Government started investing in South Australian racing a couple of years ago and we are now seeing the benefits of that,” Mr Redin said.
“People know the infrastructure here is good and, because of that, we’re able to attract new people to the state.
“We’ve got trainers looking at us from interstate now, we’ve got Gary and Dean here from overseas, and riders are moving to SA, so we are becoming a destination where participants want to live and work.
“It’s a huge coup for South Australian racing to have the Alexanders here and it goes to the core of what we’re trying to do, grow racing, protect and grow jobs, and get more horses in work.”
Aimed at protecting and creating local jobs, while making SA racing more competitive, the Marshall Liberal Government’s $24 million industry stimulus package, first announced in 2019, includes $2.8 million set aside in the Racing Industry Fund for 10 projects across the state.
Among these projects is the $505,000 uphill training track at Murray Bridge Racing Club’s Gifford Hill facility, with the Club also benefitting from an additional $5 million funding commitment in the 2020/21 State Budget which was supplemented with funding from Racing SA to see the development of 150 on-course stables and a 70-metre equine pool.
About Gary and Dean Alexander
Gary Alexander was granted his training licence in 1982, taking over the reins from his father, Duncan. He went on to establish training operations at the famous Turffontein Racecourse and has combined with his brother Dean to win more than 100 Group and Listed winners.
In 2000, Gary and Dean set a South African record for the most stakes earned in one day, winning two Group 1 races and a Group 2 race. The pair has twice trained six winners at Turffontein, acknowledged as South Africa’s premier racetrack.