One of the country’s former leading lightweight jockeys Duncan Alexander passed away on Sunday morning and ironically it happened almost 50 years to the day of his ride on the 1969 Durban July joint-second favourite Coast Guard.
South Africa’s Hall Of Famer jockey Michael Roberts summed up Alexander, “He was a great jockey. Of course my memories of him are from when I was still a kid at the Academy. I used to ride a good horse he was the regular jockey for, Chichester. He was an absolute gentleman and was always immaculately dressed. My condolences to the Alexanders, a special family, special people.”
Chichester went one better than Coast Guard by finishing second in the 1970 July.
Duncan was one of the top lightweight jockeys of his era.
He had his first July ride in 1954 and then, as a mark of the esteem in which he was held, he rode in 13 consecutive Julys from 1959 to 1971. His 15th and final July ride was in 1973. The weights of his other July mounts ranged from 44,5kg to 49,5kg with the exception of Chichester who carried 52kg in 1970.
Duncan was father of trainers Gary and Dean and of Tellytrack presenter and racing personality Julie.
Gary repeated the feat of his father by saddling the Vodacom Durban July runner up Pierre Jourdan in 2011.
Duncan had been battling ill health for a number of years.
Jack Milner wrote the following tribute on Tabnews.
Duncan was born in London on 5 April 1932 and once in South Africa, was one of the country’s leading lightweight jockeys. He was associated with many top horses, one of the best of these being sprinter Montesano.
Alexander won many of the country’s top races, including the Summer Cup at Turffontein and the Met at Kenilworth.
When he reached the end of his illustrious riding career in the late 1970s, Alexander took out his trainer’s licence. His stable yard was just 800m from Turffontein Racecourse, next to the Turffontein Post Office in Stanton Road.
In 1980, the Alexander yard moved to the newly built stables at the racecourse. Gary was the assistant trainer to his dad but in 1982, took out his own licence.
However, Duncan still played in integral part in the stable as an advisor to both Gary and Dean, and to the some jockeys who rode their horses.
Duncan is survived by his wife, Marge, as well as his three children, Gary, Dean and Julie.
His funeral will take place on Thursday at 11am at Our Lady of Cedars Maronite Catholic Church. 118 Western Service Road Woodmead.
By David Thiselton
Image: Gary Alexander son of the late Duncan Alexander