Our Owner of the Month award winner for September is Wendy Daken breeder, and owner with husband Brian of Waikato Express. Wendy provided with this story:
It seems just like yesterday that we go involved in racing. That is Brian and I, when actually it is 17 years ago now. How time flies when you’re chasing a dream. We have had a few country winners which has given us great joy. The delight is even greater when we have bred them all ourselves.
Just watching them run in races was a delight. We would really get exited when we actually won, it didn’t matter what race, any race was wonderful. The same two mares were our breeders, as the years have gone by the next crop each year seem to get better and better.
Then along came Waikato Express, how we got his name was funny, driving in New Zealand on the trek to Auckland from Thames, Brian and I were debating names, his favourite was Juicy, I didn’t like his favourite choice. We tossed a lot of names around, I said we have it, ‘Look Waikato Express way! Huge signs everywhere with that sign. Let’s take off the way and call her Waikato Express’.
He didn’t like my choice, so we started asking everyone we knew and they all thought it was fabulous. So that became his name.
We had a lovely trainer training him to start with and he didn’t think he’d make the grade so let him go. I thought we should give him one more chance with a new trainer, Luke O’Connor, he had just started, we had given him his first horse, Divine Weaver and now we would put Waikato Express in his hands. It wasn’t long and we had two country wins. Then he had a hind leg tendon injury. It was a toss-up as to keeping him or giving him a good home out of racing. We agist our horses at Finniss Lodge and love them and the care they take of all our horses. We put him out for a long spell with vet’s advice. We brought him back into training nearly a year later and gave him back to Luke.
It took nearly four months, then joy again! we had a third with Eran Boyd on him and took deep breaths that he would stay fit without injury. We just made third, it was a delight to watch in that race. Then Luke placed him in a city race, we were excited and nervous. Our first run in the city race with Waikato Express, we decided to stick with Eran and what a race! She and Waikato Express didn’t let us down.
The excitement was wonderful, you couldn’t explain our joy, we had been in Lockdown for two weeks and let out the day before the race. Neither of us were feeling joyous, we went and found a TAB and put some money on the race, not expecting miracles and not knowing if he would stand up to the race.
He is a beautiful horse, so good natured and wonderful to train, so Luke says. The rest is history, we have finally done it! We feel we have reached a milestone after 17 years. Our story is don’t give up when the going gets tough, the joy is well worth it. The surprise was that our phones never stopped ringing and texts kept coming in with the congratulations that came from people that didn’t even know we raced horses as well.
It really was a joyous wonderful day. Never give up, you never know what’s around the next corner! Or the horse you just started training, how it will go.
Waikato Express is by Rebel Raider from the Street Cry mare Forcryingoutloud. The 5-year-old gelding has now won 3 races with 2 seconds and a third from 18 starts earning almost $50,000. On breeding one would expect Waikato Express to be effective over longer distances than he has managed so far.
The dam raced 20 times for three wins, including a metro win, she has only had one other to race, the Oratorio mare Beejaydee named I think after Wendy’s husband Brian. She raced six times for the one win and is not longer with us.
The granddam Classic Kyles (by Danewin) won two from two on the Sunshine Coast and is the dam of Classic Heart (by Show A Heart) in turn dam of multiple winners Savage Young Blood, James Is Blonde and Hey Pal.
We admire Wendy’s enthusiasm for racing and wish her and Brian well.