Big things ahead for Iron Clad

The stylish looking two-year-old Iron Clad has built an impressive record for his connections and certainly gives the impression that better things lie ahead.

Bred by John Evans, Iron Clad was foaled on November 24, 2020, before being entered for the 2022 Australian Pacing Gold Yearling Sale staged at Riverside, Warwick Farm in Sydney.

The handsome colt is a son of the champion sire Art Major and first foal of the very talented race mare Ima Mystery Girl, a Group 3 winner of the 2017 Teeny Teeny Stakes at Menangle and Red Ochre Mares Classic at Dubbo.

Ima Mystery Girl won 16 races while banking more than $200,000 upon retirement in 2019.

The Village Jasper mare campaigned in Brisbane during the 2018 Brisbane winter carnival, which resulted in a fourth placing behind Our Uncle Sam in the Listed $25,000 Patrons Purse at Redcliffe.

Jarrod Alchin trained the mare for the bulk of her racing career while Evans started and ended with the mare.

Evans has been breeding from this family for several generations and Ima Mystery Girl is the best credentialed to date.

On sales day, the colt dubbed ‘Billy’ garnered plenty of attention from potential buyers, but it was Grant and Trista Dixon that were most drawn to him.

“He was on our short list, and we really liked the look of the colt. He ticked all the boxes, and the bonus was the fact he was known as ‘Billy’ which made it even better,” Dixon said.

Grant’s legendary father was named Billy – William Forbes Dixon.

The colt was secured at a price of $40,000 while the couple also secured a Sweet Lou – Ark Elaine colt for $32,000 from the sale.

Both horses were purchased on behalf of leading owners, Kevin and Kay Seymour.

The Sydney sales have proven to be a happy hunting ground in recent seasons. Most notably they picked up both Leap To Fame ($47,500) and Tims A Trooper ($17k) from the same sale while the year prior they took home both Paratrouper ($42,000) and Rainbow Jet ($22,000).

Collectively, those four pacers have combined for stakes above $1.9 million and still building.


The latest pair have added to the strike rate nicely with Iron Clad (Art Major – Ima Mystery Girl) and Air Express (Sweet Lou – Ark Elaine) both enjoying success in 2023.

Both youngsters returned from Sydney and headed to Seymour’s Egmont Park where they eventually were broken in by Tobi Raeth. And Billy took to his early education nicely.

Transferred to Grant and Trista Dixon at their Tamborine property, Billy continued to improve and thrive with his workload.

He educated and trialed at Albion Park in March and was being readied for the Brisbane Australian Pacing Gold Bullion series at Albion Park the following month.

His debut would come in a heat of the Gold Bullion at Albion Park on April 6. After starting from the inside draw, he raced three back on the inside and was unlucky yet eye-catching when finishing fifth behind Dragon in a time of 1:58.3.

Billy just scraped into the final to be staged the following week.

Running from gate three, Iron Clad was sent off at juicy odds of $16 and pounced on the early lead before surrendering to the strongly favoured Bronski Zulu.

At the top of the straight, Dixon took his colt to the inside, and he was able to edge past Bronski Zulu with race favourite Dragon finishing third after racing without cover.

At only his second career start, Iron Clad claimed the $50,000 Final.

Two weeks later, Iron Clad was shipped to Sydney to contest the Group 1 $400,000 APG Final at Menangle but a break at the start cost him any chance of success and ultimately, finished at the rear of the field with the race won by War Dan Buddy in 1:53.7.

Returning to Albion Park the following week, Iron Clad was the runner-up behind Rylee Rhayne Bow in the $20,000 Changeover Classic before being turned out for a break.

Iron Clad with trainer-driver Grant Dixon

In just four starts, Iron Clad had recouped his purchase price.

The NSW Breeders Challenge in October was the target and, following three pleasing trials at Albion Park, Iron Clad resumed at Newcastle in a heat of the rich series on September 22 where he finished second behind Paradise Point in 1:56.6.

Iron Clad then returned to Albion Park the following week and dominated his rivals when leading throughout in a time of 1:55.5 while scoring by a widening margin.

Next up, the semi-final of the Breeders Challenge at Menangle and the colt finished an unlucky third with Josh Gallager driving behind Royal Cruiser and War Dan Buddy in a time of 1:51.9 – it was the same night Leap To Fame finished a close-up third behind Act Now and Catch A Wave in the Group 1 Victoria Cup at Melton.

The Group 1 $150,000 Final was scheduled two weeks later. Iron Clad was reunited again with Robbie Morris and, after drawing the outside gate in the 1609m feature, ‘Billy’ produced an excellent effort to finish fourth behind Nathan Street in a time of 1:50.5.

Back in Brisbane with summer carnival features on the radar, Iron Clad scored in the Burwood Stud Classic after overcoming the outside draw in a time of 1:55.1 while he was unplaced as favourite in the Ultimate Tools feature the following week.

“He’s definitely the best of our two-year-olds and we’re really happy with the season he’s had,” Dixon said.

“Hopefully he’ll keep improving and get his chance next season in the three-year-old features.”

Iron Clad has amassed more than $82,000 from 10 starts to date, and Air Express has raced just three times for a win and a placing to date.

The brilliant strike rate continues!

Air Express during a win at Redcliffe.