Few horses in the world would have had more starts than Danke, but the 12-year-old trotter continued to defy his age at Cambridge Raceway on Friday night when taking out the Woodlands Stud Handicap Trot (2200m).
It was the 13th win for the son of Sundon from an astonishing 276 starts, and he showed his strength of character to get to that mark when serving it up to his younger rivals on Friday.
The Geoff Martin-trained and driven gelding sat parked for the majority of the race before kicking clear of the field at the 400m mark under the urgings of Martin and managed to hold on to win by half a length over Kimkar Dash, with a further 1-3/4 lengths back to Demolition Man in third.
Martin was pleased with the win and said he utilised tactics that tried to counter the younger legs of Danke’s rivals.
“The leader (Soney Beatt) started tiring at the 400m, so I was off and gone,” Martin said.
“He will still be going the same speed at the quarter as he is at the finish and if you hold him up now he hasn’t got that speed, so you just ask him to go at about the 400m, which is good.”
Martin was relatively confident heading into Friday night’s race after Danke’s work at Dr Luk Chin’s Tamahere property on Tuesday morning. He voiced those thoughts to his wife Ali, the owner of Danke, and she took action on his advice.
“He worked well on Tuesday and I sprinted home and said to my wife ‘I think he can win’. She ended up getting the quinella, so did pretty good.”
While Danke has been troubled by a few niggly issues, Martin said he has got on top of them and the gelding has never been a happier.
“He’s had a few soreness issues through his age and having more than 270 starts,” he said. “But he runs around the paddock now looking like a three-year-old, he’s a happy horse.
“He really enjoys it and just loves his work.”
Racing, on average, once a week, Martin said Danke is rarely in the cart at home and mostly does long, slow work.
“He is on the jogger a lot of the time and does about 15km a day. If he is starting every seven or eight days, he is a fit horse anyway.”
Martin claimed Danke three years ago and said he has come to mean a lot to his family since then and will be retired at the first sign of any issue.
“I claimed him at Cambridge in June 2016 for $4,000. In the three years that I have had him he has won more than $100,000, so he has paid his way.
“He is the only horse I have at the moment, he’s the family pet. It’s up to him how long he keeps racing, if he ever gets sour on it I will retire him.”
Danke and Martin have covered a lot of ground in their three year partnership, but Martin is planning on cutting back Danke’s workload this season.
“He’s had 150 starts in the last three seasons, so I will space his races out now, but he is starting again on Thursday night at Cambridge. He has pulled up super after Friday.” – Cambridge Raceway
Race Replay: Danke winning the Woodlands Stud Hcp Trot (2200m)