Fastnet Rock gelding Tan Tat Diamond made the comeback of all comebacks at Doomben on Saturday (April 28) when saluting in Race 2. The 6YO was racing first-up after an astonishing 686 days since his last racecourse appearance.
It was an incredible training performance by Steven O’Dea but a performance that also puts into the spotlight the tremendous behind the scenes work that has been done by Aquis’ Pre-Training Manager Kacy Fogden and her team in Canungra to rehabilitate Tan Tat Diamond and get him racetrack ready after such a long absence away from the track.
Aquis’ Queensland property in Canungra boasts world class training facilities designed to bring out the best in horses in training, rehabilitate injured horses, and to freshen up older horses that may be in need of a new environment. Spread over 447 hectares, the property boasts a fully irrigated 1800m grass track, a 1750m all-weather sand track, an aqua walker, treadmills and a 65m lap pool. The stables can hold up to 80 horses in-training, and the day yards and paddocks can accommodate many more, making it an ideal property for the spelling of racehorses and yearlings alike.
Local Queensland trainers Steven O’Dea, Tony Gollan, Bryan Guy and Toby Edmonds make regular use of the facilities and Freedman Racing are currently using the centre as the training base for their Brisbane Winter Carnival horses.
Tan Tat Diamond won on debut as a 2YO in July 2014 and backed up a few weeks later to win a $100,000 2YO Handicap at Flemington. He won a further three starts as a 4YO, two of those for his current trainer Steven O’Dea, before succumbing to an injury that looked to all but end his racing career which, up to that point had yielded his connections close to $250,000 in prize-money from 21 race starts.
Aquis Pre-Training Manager Kacy Fogden takes up the story;
“We had decided to retire ‘Sunny’ over two years ago after a severe tendon injury. I remember when he did it – it looked like he had a banana for a tendon, it was a real bow and we all decided he would retire on farm as a nanny, which was a real shame as he loved being a racehorse. He is one of those horses that really enjoy it and has that real, natural competitive nature.
“It was only decided he would return to work last year; we were checking the stock in the paddock one day and I remember Sunny had started to bully his paddock mates which was so unlike him. It was almost like he was tired of being in the paddock, doing nothing, so we got Tim Hawthorne our vet to scan his tendons and x-ray his knees and to his amazement he couldn’t see any issue as to why Sunny couldn’t come back into work. I also remember when I told Steve [O’Dea] that Sunny was making a comeback, he laughed and thought I was joking.
“We took every precaution with him when we brought him back into work – he spent 10 weeks at the farm treadmilling, water walking, swimming and only ever working on the grass before going to Steve’s.
“Sunny was one of the first tried horses that Aquis bought. He was a $15,000 purchase from Peter Moody at the 2015 Inglis Thoroughbred December Sale and after today’s win he has now racked up $317,000 in prize-money.
“I must thank Tim Hawthorne our vet who was followed this gelding right from the very start, Alan Davie who helps us with all our treadmill programs – I really don’t think we would have been able to get him to win first-up after two years off without his help.
“But mostly a massive thanks to all the staff at the farm who have spent so many hours looking after him and of course Steve and his team for getting him back to the race track successfully.
“We will definitely leave it up to Sunny to tell us when he is ready to retire. There will always be a paddock with his name on the gate waiting for him when that day comes.’’