The funny side

By Michael Guerin

Your stable star returning from a big race with a heart complaint, even a minor one, is rarely a laughing matter.

But once trainer Greg Hope established A G’s White Socks had taken no harm from an atrial fibrillation in his comeback race at Addington two weeks ago, he admits to seeing the funny side.

In a racing stories too odd to make up, A G’s White Socks suffered the relatively common atrial fibrillation in the feature race at Addington and had to be pulled up by driver Ricky May.

The reason that was so remarkable is because the last time May had driven A G’s White Socks in a race May all but died from a far more serious and sudden heart issue which left him needing an emergency helicopter ride and an operation.

That was at Omakau on January 2 so the last two times the southern pair have joined forces for a race it has been a disaster.

Now May and A G’s White Socks are both fine, trainer Hope admits everybody has seen the funny side.

“You wouldn’t believe it could happen first to Ricky and then to the horse, even though they are different things,” said Hope.

“Once we all go over the shock of it all we have given Ricky a bit of a hard time about it all in good fun. I have been telling him I hope the trainer isn’t next.”

Hope says the vets who examined A G’s White Socks after the Addington incident said they are seeing more atrial fibrillations in horses, with plenty of theories as to why, including the new spring grass.

A lot of horses have suffered a fibrillation in races and never been affected by it again and Hope expects that to be the case when A G’s White Socks and May unite for third time lucky in the Avon City Ford Cup at Addington this Friday.

“I think he will be fine but I can’t see him being at his peak fitness because he was obviously pulled out of that race and then missed three days work while we had him diagnosed,” said Hope.

“So he is very much on the way up.”

A G’s White Socks meets red hot New Zealand Cup favourite Self Assured on Friday, with the latter again drawing an inside barrier at two, which may be less than ideal considering his standing start manners so far this season.

Self Assured is a $1.85 favourite to win the $540,000 IRT NZ Cup at Addington on November 10, with northerner Copy That now $3.40 after his stunning Alexandra Park display last Thursday.

The pair are likely to meet for the first time in the Flying Stakes at Ashburton on October 26.

Hope and wife Nina also have Matua Tana in a star-studded Alabar Ordeal Cup this Friday and he pleased them at the Methven workouts on the weekend.

“He has got the motor to run with these horses but his manners need to keep improving.”

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