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Townsville trainer set to make decade long comeback

241276106-4173091799464425-1077119146114493329-n.jpgBy Jordan Gerrans

A subtle push from his son – who is a keen thoroughbred owner – has led Townsville’s Robert Rix back to the training game for the first time in over a decade.

Last starting a galloper in his own name in November 2007, the Rix stable is back at Cluden Park this Friday afternoon with Danites and Coastal Prince to mark their return.

Rix’s son, Damien, owns the duo, after he initially purchased consistent North Queensland horse Jemadar around 12 months ago, which sparked the family's interest back into the thoroughbreds.

The Rix's have a long history in both codes of racing in NQ, heavily involved in the harness industry in the early days, before crossing to the gallopers.

Jemadar has since been retired after winning seven races from almost 60 starts, which led Damien to search out Danites and Coastal Prince.

“My son bought one on an online auction about a year ago and we were going down to the stables and seeing him,” Robert recalled.

“More or less, that got the spark back going again.

“He has gone and bought a couple more and asked me if I would get a licence again and that is how it has come about."

Although he has been in the racing wilderness since late 2007, Rix has 55 victories to his name since 1995.

The 2007 Australian equine influenza outbreak pushed Rix away from training all those years ago.

The returning Rix stable is based at Bluewater, which is 30kms north of Townsville, and also allows them to work their horses on the beach.

“It is tough on the body, I have not got any younger, that is for sure,” Rix said with a laugh.

“But it hasn’t been too bad, my son gives me a hand as he loves the horses too.

“It is good when you see them go good, it gives you a good feeling, all that is still there.

“The horses have been doing well.”

Rix’s father Jack was a stalwart of the harness racing industry in North Queensland before he sadly passed away a couple of years ago.

Described as a highly respected horseman, Jack had his last starter Bistro Star in Townsville in 2005, the same horse was his last winner in June 2005.

Jack trained many winners in his career including multiple winners Nells Son, Condorman, Smokey Gaze, Duarango Kid, Oh Lord, Torpid Boy, Commander Byrd, Freedom, Wipe Out, Attaviros and Captain Sunshine, among others.

17492550-762895890542143-6569381119377068959-o.jpgRobert trained and drove the pacers before the sport finished up in North Queensland in the early 1990s.

The family took a break for just over a year before eventually diving into the gallopers, a form of racing they had no experience in at the time.

“We were in the trots until they closed; my Dad Jack took a few to Brisbane and mucked around a bit,” Robert remembered.

“I knew nothing about gallopers at that stage.

“He eventually asked me if I wanted to get a galloper, which I had never done before.

“He was good mates with Ronnie Wanless and he sent one up to him and that is how we got into the gallopers.

“That got us rolling in the early days, he sent up a heap of horses to us.”

On his returning duo of gallopers, both Coastal Prince and Danites are having their first starts in North Queensland after recently transferring from southern stables, after Damien Rix purchased them.

The former Matthew Dunn-trained Coastal Prince comes to Townsville with six career victories on his resume already after last being seen at the races at Doomben in July.

Rix describes the son of Real Saga as a good style of galloper.

“Danites, she is a speedy horse, I am hoping with the class not being as strong as down south, she can jump and be in the money somewhere,” Rix said.

“She races on speed, which is a plus for her in the north.

“The other fella he might be a bit out gunned in the race he is in, being still a Class 6 horse.

“He likes a mile, but we have to start somewhere with him so the 1300 metres looks all right, if he can run home in the finish, I will be happy as Larry.

“There is some very good horses in that Open, I am not expecting him to win it, as long as he goes all right, I will be happy.”

Hard-working provincial rider Jeffrey Felix takes the job on both of Rix’s runners this Friday, two of his four rides for the afternoon.