It’s hard to keep a good man down – and in Mark Dux’s case, neigh impossible.
This time last year the 59-year-old Woongoolba horseman suffered a quadruple bypass heart operation. In fact, one of his arteries was so blocked it was described as 100 per cent clogged.
When many would have shut up shop and wound down their stables, the Dux Stable has continued to thrive in 2020, training 31 wins from 448 starts. He also placed 94 times and banked $286,684.
As at Monday November 30, Dux had trained 1,594 lifetime winners since taking out his licence on December 4, 1982.
“The stables would have shut down had it not been for the family stepping in and taking over. Mind you in saying that the stable has always been a family oriented one.
“My three brothers, Stephen, Michael, and Kerry, with my wife Donna, three daughters (Madi, Jasmine, and Mackenzie), Madi’s partner (Reece Maguire) have all helped the stable keep running”,” Dux said.
“You are nothing without family and mine certainly stood up for me this time,” he added.
Dux has been back working the horses since the end of June, and has been back in the bike a month or so.
“I think I’ve only had six drives this time, and yet to salute. At this stage I’ve been handing out drives to other drivers until I get fully back on my feet again,” Dux said.
His oldest daughter, Madi, who relocated to Leeton to be with her partner Reece Maguire at the end of July, said it took a massive adjustment to replace her father in the stable he had established almost 40 years ago.
“With Dad out of the picture it was a massive adjustment not only for the stable but for Dad, himself. Reece and I took the reins and did everything we could to help the stable run smoothly and continue towards success, which our stable has enjoyed for a long time.
“Even though Dad wasn’t allowed to even visit the stables for months, he was still very much involved in the whole training process - giving advice and he would be trying to contribute in any way he could.
“You could tell that going through this set back wasn’t going to be the end of his training and driving career. Dad has always loved being a part of harness racing, training, driving, and the social aspect of it. He loves to help others, and tends to talk to people for way too long, especially long when it’s home time. Harness racing is a big part of who he is, so it was only a matter of time until he got back on track,” a proud daughter (Madi) said.
In the bike, Dux has driven just three winners this season and 1,098 since landing his first winner behind Thelans Chief at Redcliffe Paceway on February 22, 1980.
And he insists the wins would not have come had it not been for his ultra-supportive family.
“They have been outstanding. Our last training victory was at Albion Park on November 10 when Motu Amethyst and Shane Graham won the eighth event (see footnote below).
“I’ve only had a handful of drives this time in. At this stage I like to use Shane, Nathan Dawson and Paul Diebert. Hopefully that first win back won’t be too far away,” Dux said.
Dux wasn’t born into a harness racing family but his grandfather on his mother’s side did train standardbreds back in the 1950s.
“Perhaps I got the racing blood from him. Donna actually worked for Billy Dixon in Townsville when Grant was very young. As for me, I was actually an advertising sales consultant for the Sunday Sun when I left Cavendish Road State High School in the late 1970s,” Brisbane-born Dux said.
He said in their younger days, his recently deceased parents, Tom and Gay, never missed a Saturday night meeting at Albion Park.
Following Mum and Dad around the track is where the love of harness racing started for myself and my three brothers.
“When we were older the four of us decided to get into ownership, and then ultimately training. Then with the help of Mum and Dad, we all purchased a property out at Park Ridge, together.
“We had always had a horse or two at home which we trained before leaving for our normal jobs. When I was in my early 20s I had enough of the office job and decided to go into full-time training,” Dux said.
Mark and Donna have been together for more than 40 years working with the Dux brothers at their stables. Dux said during that time they got married and have had three daughters – and all three have worked in the stables since they day they could walk.
“We relocated to Woongoolba 13 years ago and we are now working 15 at the moment, and although there are no stars amongst them, you are always hopeful a star will come along.
“I’ve got some nice babies coming through. I quite like the rising 2-year-old Always Be Miki filly, who is out of our 2006 Mach Three mare, Our Lillyfield. She also left Covert Beauty (by Art Official), who won 14 races and more than $100,000.”
Dux said his Group One win in 2017 was his highlight so far, but said he had trained some nice horses and won some good races in four decades of gearing up standardbreds.
“Training and driving Pinup Boy to win the APG Final at Albion Park was memorable – not only because it was a Group One race, but it was also $100,000.
“He also ran second behind Colt Thirty One in the Group Two Qbred 3yo colts and geldings final at Albion Park in May 2018,” Dux said.
Other memorable wins came via Saucy Legend, who won the Group Three Be Good Johnny Sprint in 2013.
Then there was Benefactor, who Dux raced in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He won 33 races and $263,796.
“Pocket Battleship was another good'un who won 28 races and $244,025 in the 1990s; and of course, Hes The Loner, who won 44 races, including 29 times on a Saturday night at Albion Park,” Dux said.
The Dux Stable has also experienced good success with thoroughbreds over the years as well.
“In 10 years, the stable has trained both gaits, which can often lead to two Saturday meetings and different codes. We can go from Eagle Farm and then across the road to Albion Park within the space of hours.
“We enjoyed it when one of our gallopers named Thundermannproved proved his ability when he won in California in 2003 in the hands of the late great Barry Abrams. We had a lot of faith in him.
“It’s just so great to be back racing again. It’s well and truly in my blood and I’d never want to do anything else.
“I have a greater appreciation for both my life and my family now. This is all I want to do and I’m so grateful that I have the most supportive wife and family any man could ever wish for,” Dux said.
Footnote: The Dux stable trained two more winners at Albion Park on Monday. Paul Diebert got Regal Nightshade home by a neck in race five, and then three races later Diebert obliged again behind Key Largo - by 3.2m.