Star pacer dies suddenly

By Garrick Knight

 Connections have been left devastated by the sudden and untimely death of one of New Zealand’s best pacers, Pat’s Delight.

He was just four days from returning to the public eye, at the trials this coming Wednesday, when he collapsed during light training at the stable of trainer Cran Dalgety.

“It’s devastating,” said Gore’s Pat Kubala, who owned the Group 1 winner.

“He was just jogging around the track yesterday morning, gave out a bit of a wince, rolled over and down he went.

“Within about 30 seconds he was dead.

“They did an autopsy and discovered that his aorta had given out on him and burst.”

Pat’s Delight announced himself with a brilliant nose second to Sheriff in the epic New Zealand Derby of 2018 before going on to win the 3YO Emerald at the Cambridge Harness Jewels.

Last season he was thrown straight in to the big leagues and after a serious of good runs in New Zealand, tackled the Inter Dominion Series in Victoria before Christmas.

It was there that he stuck his hand up with a win and two seconds in the heats, before starting third favourite in the final.

He managed a close-up fifth behind Tiger Tara there before taking out the Shepparton Cup at his next start.

For Kubala, the Inter Dominion heat win at Ballarat, where he won under a hold less than half a second outside the track record, was his highlight.

“He just jogged it that night and Gavin Lang, who drove him, said he’d never won an Inter Dominion Pacing Final and this horse could be the one to do it for him.

“To hear a driver of his experience say that was a real thrill.”

After the Shepparton Cup win, and a small brush with colitis, Kubala and Dalgety made the decision to bypass the four-year-old features at Auckland, and the Addington Jewels, in favour of the upcoming season.

“We brought him home and gave him a good long spell thinking we would have a crack at this year’s New Zealand Cup and Inter Dominions (in Auckland).

“And everything was great; he had just grown up the way they wanted.

“We were about to start on his new campaign and Cran was very upbeat.”

For Kubala, it was the second heart-breaking loss for him this month.

“His (Pat’s Delight) full brother, which was broken in by Mark Smolenski, died a fortnight ago.

“I was offered big money for him two or three months ago – they thought he was the real deal.

“Mark said to me he’s broken in 3000 horses and this was ‘the one’.

“But he came home from the races and the horse was down in the paddock.

“They took his temperature and it was 106.

“They said it was only on a matter of time, so rather than let him suffer, we put him down.

“An autopsy showed it was either salmonella or colitis.”

Naturally this has left Kubala on the ropes emotionally and struggling to come to terms with such a harrowing double shock.

“It’s such a devastation. It really just leaves you wondering what it’s all about.

“How things can turn so ugly so quickly.

“You just don’t expect these sorts of things to happen.

“And with me getting a little longer in the tooth, it’s more than frustrating.

“The only consolation is I still have their sister, who is a rising yearling.

“You’ve just got to turn the page, get up smiling and get on with the job.”

Dalgety could not be reached for comment on Sunday morning.

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