From death’s door and 68 weeks in the paddock to favourite at Caulfield tomorrow
Update 27th June
“To my way of thinking miracles do happen, from the vet’s prognosis Felicia’s racing career was over and seeing her race at Caulfield was beyond the wildest of dreams”, Co-owner Gerard Ballantyne.
Following Felicia’s two impressive 2yo wins in Sth Australia with Matt Seyers the ownership group decided to aim Felicia at the inaugural Showdown with the Cinderella Stakes as a black-type target along the way. Disappointingly she was diagnosed with a very small bone chip in her knee a week before the Cinderella Stakes.
A “straight forward” arthroscope followed which was when the serious problems commenced. An infection resulted, another arthroscope and she was in serious trouble and fighting for her life for some time. She eventually came away from the vet clinic with the prognosis that her racing career was over and her future was as a broodmare at best. A second and third opinion confirmed the prognosis with one suggesting worse.
She came back to Victoria to Brooke Barker’s property on the Bellarine Peninsula to recuperate and prepare to eventually go to stud. The float trip was another chapter in this story as she arrived at Brooke’s with teeth missing, bruises, swollen ears amongst other things. The float company was very happy to see the back of her and she was still alive!! This filly had really been through the “ringer” at this stage but she couldn’t have gone to a better person. Brooke put Felicia on a joint supplement and watched her closely but the more she watched her the more she wasn’t prepared to accept the vet’s prognosis. One example being on cold, frosty winter mornings the filly would be in her paddock galloping and bucking with her mate and showing no signs of lameness whatsoever.
Brooke researched the injury extensively and finally found a receptive ear in Golden Plains Equine. Options were discussed and I decided she undergo another arthroscope to determine the exact condition of the knee joint. An x-ray only revealing so much. There were absolutely no guarantees but we were praying for the best possible outcome from the operation given she had shown talent with her wins as a 2yo and we really believed she had so much more to achieve before a stud career. Further, the fear of her getting another infection was at the forefront of all concerns.
Golden Plains Equine were amazing and the surgeon encouragingly said that here was every chance the filly could return to racing providing she was given time to recuperate and a careful preparation.
She recuperated at Brooke’s and I subsequently looked for a trainer with the knowledge, patience and facilities to get her fit initially with no guarantee that she would get to the races. At Brooke’s recommendation I visited Dean Binaisse and subsequently decided to place Felicia with him after a long recuperation. His knowledge, facilities and location were integral to the decision and one that has not been regretted. Dean’s patience was integral to where she is today and having a water walker, leading her off the pony, access to the beach, numerous track surfaces at Mornington racecourse and the personal daily attention. He kept her weight under control and she has absolutely relishes the environment as she is a very happy, fit, sound racehorse who is thriving on her work.
Dean deserves enormous credit for getting her fit and keeping her sound. Brooke’s contribution to Felicia is very significant and her belief was fundamental.
She resumed her athletic career at Caulfield on 18 April after 68 very long weeks and ran a terrific race to finish 3rd, beaten less than half a length. She has come through the race in great fettle and will race at Caulfield again this coming Saturday.
Felicia deserves every bit of success that comes her way but her continued well-being is and always will be paramount.