Dealing with delight and near disaster

Millane makes an impressive debut visit to the racetrack in race one at Flemington on Saturday. 271205 Picture: PEG RYAN/RACING PHOTOS

By David Nagel

Whether a participant or punter the ability to put bad experiences behind you – in a real hurry – is one of the non-negotiables of being involved in the racing game.

Millimetres can separate delight from disaster, and racing is littered with stories from both sides of that fence on a daily basis.

Pakenham trainer Peter Moody and his hard-working team had to dig deep over the last week – with delight and near disaster both being part of the sporting landscape.

The up and down week began at Sandown Hillside last Wednesday, when stable foreman Katherine Coleman, strapper Kyla Clark and jockey Luke Nolen were injured in a freak incident after two-year-old filly Star Magic lashed out in the mounting yard ahead of race two.

“She’s a little filly having her first start, she’s a lovely little horse and she handled the day really, really well,” Coleman explained from her hospital bed, the day after the incident.

“I think she just got a little bit of a fright when I’ve gone to leg Luke up on her, because she’s shot forward and kicked out, and as she’s done so she’s managed to clean all three of us up.

“Kyla has torn a ligament in her shoulder, but is hoping to be out of hospital later this morning.

“Luke seems to be pretty good, he’s probably a little bit stiff and sore as well I’d imagine, but no serious injuries there.

“And I’ve got a laceration on my cheek that needed a few stitches, but nothing serious and nothing that will keep any of us out of action for any considerable time.

“All three of us are very, very lucky. I’m a little bit stiff and sore, but really just feeling pretty lucky that it wasn’t anything worse.

“And I’ll have a nice little war wound that will make me look tough.”

Clark was assessed at the Dandenong Hospital while Coleman was sent to The Alfred.

Star Magic recovered well enough to eventually finished fourth in the race, which was delayed by 30 minutes, with Blaike McDougall replacing Nolen in the saddle.

The impressive bounce back from the Moody yard began later in the day when three-year-old gelding Pounding summed up the stable’s day – coming from last to first to win the $50,000 BenchMark-64 Handicap (1600m).

Jockey Carleen Hefel, herself having her first-start back since seriously breaking her leg in September last year, settled back in the field before unleashing a withering burst over the concluding stages of the race.

The Moody team then backed up on their home track at Pakenham on Thursday night, with three-year-old filly Miss Arizona showing some true grit to win the opening race on the card, the $35,000 Maiden Plate (1000m).

The daughter of Starspangledbanner/Impeach settled just off the speed before jockey Brett Prebble took the lead in the straight and held off the fast finish off Dollar Chaser.

Moody was happy that the filly had settled better than her first two visits to the track.

“She’s a filly that has always shown nice ability but has always wanted to do it upside down,” he said.

“She’s been down in the main yard for quite a while now, just getting her to unwind because she’s been running through the bridle.

“She was strong, without mouth open and charging, and she gave herself a chance to finish it off.

“I’d love to think we could extend her out in trip but she’s got to learn to race better before we do that.”

A week that had almost began disastrously for the Moody team then reach a high crescendo on Saturday with two-year-old colt Millane enhancing his value with a brilliant debut performance in the Listed $160,000 Two-Year-Old Plate (1000m) at Flemington.

The Zoustar/Fireworks colt, named after former Collingwood champion Darren Millane, was patiently ridden by Nolen, who poked through a gap at the 200-metre mark and raced clear for victory.

The colt had shown promise in three jump-outs and a trial heading into his debut performance, without showing anything outstanding.

Nolen, who had recovered well from the incident at Sandown, suggested there was a good motor under the bonnet.

“He’s made nice progression, he’s got real quality now,” Nolen said.

“With steel shoes on and a big fat jockey like me on his back, in a couple of his jump-outs, he probably didn’t look as scintillating as he probably felt underneath me, but I was really happy heading in.

“He’s a nice horse, an exciting colt, and he’s got a deep pedigree so hopefully he goes on to enhance that value.”

Nolen, no stranger to the medical room over the years, said he felt lucky to emerge from the incident at Sandown relatively unscathed.

“I was fortunate enough I was wearing a helmet and a vest at the time, he (Star Magic) collected the left side of my head and my left shoulder,” he said.

“We got out of it pretty good, but that’s in the rear-vision mirror now, we look forward to the next chapter.”

Millane is part-owned by Rosemont Stud, who along with other breeding barns from around Victoria purchased 12 colts in the hope of turning them into future stallions.

The colts are all being named after former VFL/AFL champions, with success already coming the owner-partnership’s way.

“It’s unreal, to pull together the partners that we have and to believe in standing stallions in Victoria is a great thing,” said Rosemont’s Anthony Mithen post-race.

“We had a little bit of success with Brereton before Christmas, we got Hafey into the Blue Diamond, and now it’s two weeks to the Golden Slipper (with Millane).

“I dared not say that before the race…but you’ve got to live the dream.”

The Moody team certainly lived the dream, but almost dealt with disaster…all in the space of a week.