Story and Photos courtesy of Graham Potter and www.horseracingonly.com.au
By Robert Heathcote | Thursday, December 29, 2011
Robert Heathcote is the leading racehorse trainer in Brisbane. 'Rob's Shout' - the personal blog of the multi-premiership winning trainer will appear every Thursday on HRO.
Hello once again.
I hope most of you are enjoying the festive season and Santa was kind to you this year!
We thought he was to us when Griffon got the bikkies last Saturday as the stable really expected him to race well and he delivered. It always gives me immense satisfaction when a racehorse can recover from a serious and often career-ending injury and return to compete at a high level.
Griffon’s owner, Wilf Mula has been in the racing game a long time and he has seen the very highs of racing as well as the many lows that come along.
Wilf took a punt after Griffon suffered a serious suspensory injury when last in training in Sydney. He bought out the other partners and sent the horse for a long spell before he came into my care in Queensland.
It was certainly very rewarding to see Griffon repay Wilf's faith to come back and compete again as there has never been any doubt that the horse possesses a high level of ability.
We are now hopeful that the horse can go on with the job and fulfil his earlier potential, but we are also realistic that any racehorse can be injured when they compete and train as much as they do and his history suggests that he may well be prone to a reoccurrence of his previous injury.
One miss-step or one over reach or landing awkwardly is all it takes!
Wilf is currently convalescing from major surgery so it was a very welcome ‘pick me up’ for him at this time of the year. Good onya mate!
My stable got a double yesterday at Eagle Farm and whilst that may not give cause to great excitement at a nondescript, mid-week race meeting, it certainly gave us at the stables and connections an immense amount of pleasure for rather unusual reasons!
You see, one of the winners was a horse who was having only his third race start and he has a remarkable story.
His name is Firestorm and he is perfectly named. He also wears an appropriate set of racing colours.
As a foal, Firestorm was a very lucky survivor of the horrendous Black Saturday fires of Victoria in 2009. He was conceived at Chatswood Stud and born at Windy Hill Stud, Strath Creek.
As the terrifying fires began to surround the property at Windy Hill, and there was no other avenue for escape, the ingenuity of Firestorm’s dam, Lacrimosa saved her young foals life.
Keeping him firmly by her side, she guided him to where they were usually fed which was a large dirt patch the size of a garage. Here she shielded the young foal from the fire whilst it raged all around her.
Sadly, a number of other horses perished in the fire but this young foal by Primus went on to sport the name of Firestorm and he overcame the odds to win his first race yesterday for his owners, John and Jan Fildes.
Due to the long grass in the Clarke's paddocks at Windy Hill the fire whipped through at great speed, demolishing two thirds of the fencing and property. With help from Darley Stud and friends, supplying them with feed and providing trips to the vet, Max and Judi Clarke went about rebuilding and regenerating the farm.
After fixing the fencing and sewing the paddocks for pasture, it started to rain. Those who saw their property after the fires and returned three months later, were astonished with how well the pastures had regenerated.
As great Australian bushmen say, "when the going gets tough, the tough get going'' and these are also the words of Max Clarke.
Standing with John after yesterday's race, the first phone call of congratulations he received was from Max Clarke from Windy Hill Stud!
I think John and Jan are entitled to thrilled by their horses win, even if it was 'just' a maiden at the mid weeks!
We have decided to give him some more time to mature so he's off to the paddock for a break... He's earned it after yesterdays win!
Both Griffon and Firestorm are ‘feel good’ stories about overcoming odds and their respective successes certainly added to the festive cheer.
Happy New Year everybody!
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