VETERAN McKenzie Creek horseman Ken Exell passed away peacefully last week.
Exell’s time in harness spanned more than 60 years. He drove his first winner under the lights at the Horsham Showgrounds in February 1954, with his father Arthur’s pacer, Just Andy.
The Exell family lived in the Goroke district at Karnak and campaigned their small team throughout the Wimmera and Western District. They enjoyed success with Captain Flare, Flash Durenda and General Flare in what is now regarded as the halcyon era of “the trots.”
Exell won Horsham Trainer of the Year Awards in both 1965 and 1970 – a period somewhat dominated by the legendary Hughie Jardine.
In all, Exell drove 26 winners on the tight showground circuit, a tally shared with his friendly rivals Graeme Lang, Trevor Martin and the late Stan Anyon.
In later years when the family moved closer to Horsham, Exell also trained thoroughbreds and acted as a barrier attendant for both the Horsham Racing and Harness Racing Clubs.
In more recent times the quietly spoken Exell gained enormous satisfaction with the trotter Allawart Ugo which debuted as a 6yo gelding at Charlton in January 2012.
Under the patient trainer’s guidance, “Ugo” slowly learned to be a racehorse. After 10 starts the trotter recorded four consecutive placings then scored a well-deserved home track victory in the Moore Bulk Haulage Trotters’ Handicap on July 2012.
Exell’s one horse team earned the Horsham Horse of the Year Award in 2013 and also gave his proud owner, consecutive Local Trainer Strike Rate Awards.
Six of Allawart Ugo’s eight career victories came on the spacious Horsham circuit and the trotter was to be Exell’s final runner when unplaced at Mt Gambier recently.
Our sincere sympathies are extended to the Exell family.