Mahia Dreamin's comeback win at Cambridge

By Barry Lichter

Mahia Dreamin’s big syndicate of owners are open to every description of her Cambridge win on Thursday night except “heart-stopping.”

Even saying she showed plenty of heart to stave off Jaccka Cooper after a stirring early speed battle might touch a nerve.

That’s because it’s taken six months for the Summer Fun Syndicate’s mare to regain her best form after first suffering an atrial fibrillation then a myriad of other issues in the interim.

After fibrillating in a training run last September trainer Nicky Chilcott was hoping “Ruby” would quite quickly revert back to her normal sinus rhythm like the majority of horses who have the episode.

But when she was still not right after four days, Chilcott took her to the vet clinic where she was administered quinidine sulphate to rectify the electrical disorder.

Ruby still did not respond, the top chambers of the heart, the atria, still quivering, or fibrillating, impairing the amount of blood being pumped to the rest of her body.

By the end of the second day, after she had been given the recommended number of doses, there was still no improvement. And too many side effects were indicated from the toxic substance for the treatment to be continued.

Chilcott inquired why Ruby’s heart couldn’t be shocked back into rhythm, using paddles like the ones which deliver electric shocks to restart human hearts.

But horses have too much muscle to use the outside approach and TVEC, or transvenous electrical cardioversion, the controlled delivery of electrical impulses, isn’t available in New Zealand.

Chilcott was resigned to having to retire the mare and made plans to pick up Ruby the next morning. But before she got there came the surprising call that, finally, she had converted.

Chilcott gave Ruby several weeks in the paddock to get over the experience which had “clearly knocked her around.”

But when she resumed racing a couple of months later one thing after another prevented her from showing her best.

When the weather got warmer, her IAD, inflammatory airway disease, started playing up with asthma-like symptoms.

The following month she was bitten by a spider and all her legs blew up.

In February her trip to Hawera was spoiled when first she hurt her hock on the way down then she was kicked getting off the truck. She raced below par with a fifth and a fourth.

Her March progress was halted with a change-of-season cold when her temperature repeatedly spiked.

Even when Ruby resumed training Chilcott noted she wasn’t herself and was continually grumpy - until the last week when, suddenly, she finally turned the corner.

“In her last hit-out I just went ‘wow’ she’s back to her best.”

And on Thursday night Ruby, lit up for the first time out of the gate, held a concerted bid by Jaccka Cooper’s driver Dylan Ferguson to cross her, and held the lead.

“Because she’s had no luck, I wanted to take luck out of the equation,” Chilcott said.

“I half pie thought about handing but in the end Dylan pulled back and we had a cosy enough middle section.

“When Caulfield came round, David (Butcher) gave me a bit of run but she put paid to him.”

And, for the first time since she clocked 2:41.4 in beating the talented mare Mr Kaplan at Auckland all of a year ago, Ruby really put in, powering to the line to score by three-quarters of a length in 2:43.

“I think the colder temperatures are helping a bit with her breathing and it’s great for her owners that she’s finally back as we’ve had our challenging times.

“There were heaps of them there in the winner’s circle, cheering me when we came back, and that was awesome. They’re only small shareholders but the thrill they get is what it’s all about.”

Mahia Dreamin, with five wins, is now the second best horse the 26-member Summer Fun Syndicate has raced behind Everything who won six before his sale to Australia in 2017.

Thursday night’s win was the syndicate’s 24th since its inception in 2005, mostly with cast-offs from other stables.

Their hero list now includes Everything (six wins), Mahia Dreamin (five), Handy Knight (four), Jack Tar (four), Affair Art, Smack It, Alta Cleopatra, Machs Party and Pippa Middleton.

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