MacFarlane back from injury
By Garrick Knight
After three months on the sidelines, Todd MacFarlane is just happy to be back doing what he loves.
The experienced horseman returned to race night driving last week after an extended period of convalescence thanks to a couple of grumpy horses.
“I copped a decent kick in the back while out with a jog team,” he told HRNZ.
“I had one in the cart and two on the leads and they were fighting with each other. I got caught in the cross-fire.”
The result? Some pretty serious injuries.
“The main issues were a bruised kidney and a split liver.
“It meant two months recovery but for the third month I felt fine and like I could return.
“But they wouldn’t give me medical clearance because they felt like it hadn’t given my liver enough time to heal properly.
“So, even though I felt alright I had to watch from home.”
The worst part, MacFarlane says, was that he was on his own when the incident happened and he had three horses in his control.
“I just had to suck it up for a while there and try and get back to the barn.”
Any good trainer is only as good the team around them and that more than rung true for MacFarlane, who had to rely heavily on his staff for a fair few weeks.
“Luckily I’ve got a good crew and they all did their bit, keeping things going.”
MacFarlane has his second night back driving at Alexandra Park this evening and will pilot three horses, including two stable runners.
Maiden mare Royal went out very well-supported in her resumption last week off the back of an impressive trial on August 31.
But she let her supporters – and MacFarlane – down with a middling effort to finish fourth behind Some Do last week.
“She’s no star but I was a little bit disappointed with her last week.
“I’m hoping for a bit of improvement this week because if she runs like she did in that trial, she won’t be very far away.”
Bookies have let her go this week, opening her at $14, well behind race favourite, Down The Hatch ($1.70), who has drawn the ace for Steve Telfer and Benjamin Butcher.
“He went super last time out and will be very hard to beat.
“Hopefully we can settle handle and finish in the money.”
Recent maiden winner Cyclone S Adams opened at $21 for the R47-55 trot and MacFarlane concedes that he’s still a wee way away from reaching physical maturity.
“He’s still very much a work in progress.
“I think once mentally and physically he develops, he’ll be a good honest horse.
“He’s got a lovely way of going and generally his manners are really good.
“But he’s a bit tall and immature and that’s just going to hold him up for now.”
MacFarlane expects his race team to ramp up over the next month and is looking forward to the return of stable star Heavyweight Hero, along with a number of promising maidens, including Joshua Richard and Harvey Spector.
“Hopefully one or two of them step up; in another month we should have quite a handy team around us.”