Locksmith back from the brink
By Garrick Knight
It’s unlikely that Thursday's Stratford grass meeting means more to anyone than visiting trainer Revell Douglas.
The South Auckland horseman has taken his entire race team south for the two-day grass meeting that starts at Te Kapua Park and finishes at New Plymouth on Saturday.
It’s just the two horses, one of which is Revving, who was a story in herself when she resumed to win fresh-up after 875 days and having a foal at Rotorua last month.
But her yarn will pale in comparison to that of stablemate Locksmith, should he win on either of the two days.
Douglas takes up the story.
“After his race on May 31 last year, where he ended up going four and five wide, I got him back to Adrienne Matthews’ stables, where I am based, at about 11 o’clock at night.
“It was a windy night and I couldn’t find the feed bowls, so he started tearing around his paddock.
“I heard a smash but thought it must have been the wind. I just figured I was hearing things.
“But I decided to walk out and have a look and there he was, this 17-hands high horse, lying on his back in half a metre of water in an old trough in his paddock.
“It was probably two or three metres deep, more like a well really, and he obviously just didn’t see it and galloped straight in to it.”
Douglas couldn’t believe what he was seeing and was sure the horse would have to have been seriously injured.
“I had to look again just in case I was dreaming. He was lucky he didn’t break everything.”
Panicked and without a phone, Douglas had to go and wake Matthews up and get her to call reinforcements – her partner Matt Stormont, step-father Johnnie Butcher and a local vet, Katie Kindleysides.
The horse was panicked but not excessively so, thanks in part to the fact he was tired from his race just hours earlier.
“A more aggressive horse would have died, for sure.
“I got down with him in the water and cradled his head and eventually, after four hours, the vet had to subdue him.
“She said if we couldn’t get him out in the next 15 minutes, she would have to put him down.
“So I started saying my goodbyes.”
Then Butcher came to the rescue with a piece of machinery he uses to lift large hay bales.
After an awkward but vigilant team effort, the horse was pulled out in what was very much a last-ditch attempt.
“We had to push him the last metre or so and at 650 kgs that wasn’t easy.”
Locksmith had some serious flesh wounds including “quite bad slicing around his legs” and was obviously traumatised but, miraculously, didn’t have any broken bones.
“He needed two months in a box and bathed his wounds the whole time.
“He was no chance of being a racehorse again.”
But, after three or months, his legs healed, Douglas started giving him some light exercise and there have been zero setbacks since.
“He’s been in work probably five months, though he did curb a hock at one point.
“I wouldn’t say he’s 100 percent fit – more trials-level fit, but I’m banking on him going good fresh.”
After Revving’s miraculous win, you wouldn’t bet against Douglas.