Two decades of patience paying off for Dickie


It’s been a long and unpredictable two decades for John Dickie and the Catherine The Great family, but the light is finally at the end of the tunnel.

In the form of Tricky Ric, he and good friend Richard Bright have themselves an exciting talent.

The three-year-old son of siring sensation Muscle Hill and Dream Vacation mare, Great Getaway, was a run-away winner at Alexandra Park on Friday night.

Dickie and his son, Josh, who he trains in partnership with, have high hopes for the speedy trotter.

“We’ve always liked him from day one, really,” said John.

“He’s a very small, compact horse and because of that he wasn’t quite strong enough to go at two.

“We gave him a couple of starts but he got to the stage where he had done enough so we put him aside.

“But he’s developed in to a nice wee horse now and he’s really got a good turn of foot.”

The $100,000 New Zealand Trotting Derby at Addington on April 5 is firmly on their radar.

“We’re going to try him against the better ones.

“He hasn’t beaten a lot just yet, so we’ll give him a few more starts in a better grade and then hopefully head south for the Derby.”

The name Tricky Ric comes from Dickie and Bright’s association with The Oaks Stud in Cambridge.

“We keep Great Getaway at The Oaks and [General Manager] Rick Williams is Richard’s best mate.

“I got to name the first one out of the mare (All American), and Richard really wanted to name a horse after Rick.

“Rick loves having her and her foals there.

“He jokes that when he goes out to the weanling paddock, the ones that can’t run faster than the trotters are gotten rid of.”

Dickie and Bright are counting their blessings to have a horse by Muscle Hill, who has ascended to unprecedented worldwide dominance as a sire in the ensuing four years.

“You can’t get the semen down here anymore. Well, Emilio Rosati was telling me at the sales that he can, but he has to pay $40,000 a service, which is getting right up there.

“It’s a big head start having a horse by him.”

For Dickie it’s been a long 21 years since he purchased Catherine The Great as a young broodmare.

“I had Last Sunset at the time and he was only a yearling, but I knew he was very, very smart.

“So, I paid $25,000 plus GST for her out of the calendar, where she was advertised for sale by National Bloodstock.

“She was in foal to Britewell at the time, but ended up losing that foal.”

That would become a common theme over the next six years with her next nine serves not bearing any foals.

“She would get to six or seven months but couldn’t carry them full term.

“I did three embryo transfers, which was costing $5,000 every year. By the sixth year I sent her to the South Island and let Bruce Taylor and Nevele R Stud try his luck.

“I gave up on her actually, but he said to me he would keep trying and, if he was successful, I would then let him try and breed one out of her.

“We ended up getting an embryo foal, which was Real Deal Yankee ($175,572), and then straight away the next year he got a filly (Great Getaway).

“I really wanted to keep going with the family so one day when I was down at the pub talking to Richard, he said offer him $30,000 and see if he takes it.”

A deal was done and Great Getaway would go on to win 10 races and over $117,000 for the pair.

As a mum she has left the promising All American, who has won three of 12, Tricky Ric, and has just foaled to Father Patrick after a couple of misses using Love You frozen semen.

For Dickie, it’s a great relief to finally be seeing the fruits of his patience.

On another note, he is also happy to be back on his feet after a recent medical incident that was initially thought to be a stroke.

“I was showing all the symptoms of a minor stroke, but it turned out to be related to an ongoing blood condition I have.

“My system doesn’t break down iron like it should and I periodically get 400 mls of blood taken out because the levels get high.

“A few Mondays back I was walking out of the tractor shed first thing in the morning when all of a sudden I felt giddy.”

He’s been advised to stay off alcohol and change is diet, but is otherwise ok.

“It turns out my vitals were very good.

“I had tiredness and aching bones, which I thought was just a sign of getting bloody old, but it was actually this condition.”

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