Every owner’s worst nightmare. Our horse is as slow as a wet week.

March 30, 2013

As racehorse owners, we have a list of excuses.

Actually, make that a folder. Or a large book. A shelf full of them.

As I have said on these pages before, we are eternal optimists. Better days are always just around the bend.

On the darkest days, when we tail off, a furlong behind the second last horse, there is still light.

This is because we pay money to experience these joyful times. Cash, to experience crushing lows. So there has to be a reason.

Track too hard. Track too soft. Poor ride. Ride was too clever. Track bias. Goat track. Needs more distance. Can’t get the distance. Missed a crucial workout. Worked too hard. Lost a plate. Dropped the whip. Too hot. Too cold. Get the picture?

Our horse has been something of a riddle. Beautifully bred, he promised so much.

But there were problems. He was struck down by colic as a youngster. Had to have surgery. We ignored all the well-read scribblings, that they never come back the same.

He went shin sore. Twice. Lengthy stints in the paddock. Came back, and struck wet tracks. Did I mention he can’t run in the wet? And by that I mean, he is barely able to lift his wonderfully conformed legs, if there is so much as a spit on the ground.

It goes without saying that all but one of his starts have been on wet tracks. Hopeless. Guess how he went on a good surface? The most exciting win I’ve been involved with.

And there is our dilemma. He showed us something that day. Enough to make us think that we had a special one. All we needed was a dry track, and the race clubs would be lining up to woo us, ala the Mighty Mare.

That was the thinking, up until last weekend. A run so bad I find it hard to re-visit.

He jumped in front. Was placed to perfection by Ryan Wiggins. We hit the straight, and looked every inch the winner. Until, our bloke stopped as if shot, by a sniper in the stand wearing gumboots.

We ran last. Passed by horses that will do nothing in their uneventful careers.

Finally, there were no excuses. Nothing more could be said. He wasn’t a star after all.

He’s on his way to a new trainer now. No hard feelings there. We have no idea what the future holds. We don’t even know what state he’ll be running slowly in.

There could be a miracle around the corner, but I doubt it. We own a slow horse.

That lumps us in with the great majority of racehorse owners. We all dream of owning Black Caviar. But the reality is, we don’t. We own horses that struggle.

A new chapter awaits. We love this game so much, we’ll keep plugging away. Maybe with a new excuse or two. I just hope that sniper doesn’t find out where we’ve gone.

A man needs a hobby. Why not buy a racehorse?

July 28, 2012

A mate of mine is looking for something new.

Been a sportsman all his life. Played footy, and tennis, but his great love is cricket.

He was still involved up until a few months ago. When they won the local competition. At 45 years old. He celebrated like they’d won the World Cup.

After such a triumph, he’s decided to hang up the whites. Which means he needs something else to do.

As we chatted about the path ahead, he threw up the possibility of buying into a racehorse. He loves a punt, and reckons ownership could become his new interest.

My advice was simple. Get in immediately.

It’s such a wonderful, exciting, frustrating, painful, excruciating, yet thrilling ride. What more could a sports fan ask for?

Our horse is spelling. Again. Cruelled by an incredible run of wet tracks. Like his part-owner, he can’t lift his feet when called on to run in the mud.

So he’ll enjoy life in the paddock for a while. Again. This, after an early bout of colic, two rounds of shin soreness, and a cut from the bloody walking machine.

I did mention this ownership caper is fun, didn’t I? Well, as crazy as it sounds after detailing our present woes, it is.

Patience is the key. So they keep telling us. Wait for him to mature, to grow into his giant frame, and get on to a dry track sometime before 2020.

And wait we will. Because we love the involvement. It IS exciting, every time we hear that’s he’s going around.

A few weeks back, he stormed home at  Doomben mid-week, to just miss a place at odds. It was like we’d seen the Second Coming. That one run was enough for us to make plans for next year’s Cox Plate. Hope, however faint, keeps the owner alive.

We’ve seen precisely nothing since. Nought. Bloody rain is to blame. It will all be different after his spell.

I have other friends bitten by the ownership bug. Another great mate has two on the go. He’s driving all over New South Wales, as they progress through the grades. And he’s loving every single minute.

We see ourselves sharing favouritism in a Group One event in the not too distant future. Fighting out the photo finish. Winner’s shout that night. If you want to be a decent owner, you have to dream big.

He sent me a text yesterday. They were running at Newcastle today. Right up until the horse picked up a cold. Scratched with a sneeze. It’s enough to make a bloke sick.

I haven’t told my other mate about all these problems. He’ll learn, soon enough. The list of things that can wrong as an owner runs many pages. But none of it matters on the day they salute. The beer never tastes so good.

I hope he goes ahead with it. We might have to plan for a three-way photo in that big race. As long as he’s happy to shout.  Owners need all the help we can get.