The day finally arrived when our beloved Donald (Startthefriar) made it to the starting gates at York, lining up in a 1100m 3yo maiden. Coming off a solid trial win and working the house down at home we were quietly confident but York is a quirky track and we were just happy to be there.
There is a large group of owners from all walks of life in Donald and many had made the trip. It's fair to say we owned the racecourse when race four runners were in the mounting yard. As it was my first starter in Lucky Duck Racing colour's I was getting nervous close to start time but Donald himself was glowing in the coat and relaxed as ever.
The starter opened the gates and as he has done at the trials he was tardy out much to my horror. Being a monster of a horse he covers the ground quickly and Clint Johnson-Porter recovered to have him midfield the fence after a couple of hundred metres. Turning for home the leader had kicked and other runners fanned wide to give chase. In what was a clinical ride Clint went through the inside then around the tiring leader and first past the post with something in hand. The race caller even commented "They're Happy Downstairs" as people watching must of thought we had won the Melbourne Cup. The only one not happy was probably the bookie on course who looked at the long line of syndicate members and friends waiting to collect.
After 1 minute and 4 seconds the journey from the yearling sales ring in June 2016 to racetrack debut in February 2018 was complete. I must admit feeling quietly content and pleased with myself after going out on a limb and selecting the horse myself. It wasn't all plain sailing, horses never are.
His first campaign was very promising. He won a 400m jumpout then went to the spelling paddock to give his knees time to develop. He was always going to be a late maturer and preaching patience to first time owners is not always easy. 2nd prep as an early 3yo started with a promising jumpout then two trials. Both trials were run in atrocious conditions and he was disappointing. Blood tests showed nothing major but he was flat and we tipped him out to look after him and let him recover. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise as after a good spell and some spring sunshine he grew even bigger and the rest is history.
The look on our faces post race is what racing is all about. Trainer Jason Miller and his team have done a remarkable job in looking after the horse and having him right on the day. You will not win every race you turn up to but to have a chance to experience it and be part of the whole journey is priceless.
If you would like info on our second horse Wayne, an unraced 2yo Patronize gelding who is a very nice type himself, fill out the show interest form on the racing page. He comes back into work soon and should be trialing in June. Donald has proven you don't have to spend big to be a winner. He is also much closer to racing then all the yearlings about to go under the hammer at this years Yearling Sales.