Smith makes tough call to retire Teddy
By Frank Marrion courtesy of the HarnessXpress
Gavin Smith has made the tough call to pull the plug on the career of Great Things Happen, his first and only Group 1 winner to date.
The big eight-year-old gelding by Love You has battled a myriad of issues arising from poor conformation and bad gait throughout his career, racing only 45 times over six seasons for his 16 wins and $234,000 in stakes for Smith and breeder Ted Edwards.
“His feet are actually the best they’ve ever been at the moment and physically there’s not a lot wrong with him,” said Smith.
“He worked 3.15 home in 27 the other day and normally you’d be pretty happy with that, but he’s just not the horse that he was.
“He’s only running at probably 85% and you can’t be at that when competing against the big boys.
“His main problem has been his gait and hitting his near side hind shin, but it’s just been one thing after another in recent years and I think things have built up and got the better of him mentally.
“He deserves better and as he won’t tolerate retirement very well, we’ll find a trekking home for him, and then there will always be a paddock here for him.”
Smith recalls seeing Great Things Happen when he was offered at the Premier Sale by Edwards and passed in.
“I could see he had bad conformation then and I thought he would hit himself, so he wasn’t one that I was going to buy.
“But Ted offered to do a deal on him and as he was well enough bred, so I agreed to take him.
“For a start he was big and weak and just hopeless and at one point I threw in a paddock and had pretty much finished with him.
“But I never got around to making the call to Ted to tell him he’d been sacked.
“There were sentimental reasons that went with him as my first child (daughter Hayley) had been born the morning of the sales or the day a horse called Great Things Happen came through the gate.
“And then each time I brought him back in, he got better and better as he got older and stronger.
“He would hit himself but he wouldn’t break, so you knew he had a big heart and a big motor.”
Great Things Happen made rapid progress when he did begin racing and at one point won five races in a row as a late four-year-old.
As he’d made open class after just 16 races, Smith then sent him to Greg Sugars in Victoria to “harden up” in lesser company and Great Things Happen won four of his seven races there, including a Warragul Cup.
Back home in the spring of 2017, Great Things Happen won the Ashburton Flying Mile in 1.55.4 over a top field and then he bolted away with the NZ Trotting FFA on Cup day in a 1.56.9 mile rate.
That was a national record for 1950m which still stands and it is faster than Tough Monarch’s 1980m record set at the last Cup meeting.
At this point, Great Things Happen seemed to have the world at his feet and he went into the Dominion as a hot favourite.
But he was an abject failure that day and it has been a real battle since for Smith.
Great Things Happen was going good again in the early part of last season and after skipping the FFA, he was again one of the favourites for the Dominion, but again he performed poorly due to a virus that had swept through Smith’s stable.
“He’s always been a lot of hard work, but the Dominion proved a bogey race for him being at the wrong time of the year.
“When things dry off he gets allergies from the dust.
“We got him back a year ago to win twice at Addington, but then he broke a splint bone, and this season has been a real struggle.
“We’ve been managing a succession of little issues for 2-3 years now and it’s got to a point where everybody concerned has said enough is enough.”