PIPPI’S Pride might be headed for not just a bright racing career after the three-year-old gelding claimed a second successive win at Gunnedah on Saturday.
The Stephen Gleeson-trained son of Beautiful Crown is something of a talisman for her owners and trainer, who met in far more desperate quarters than a race track.
Three of Pippi’s Pride’s owners are nurses.
“They looked after me when I was at The Mater,” Gleeson said on Saturday after Pippi’s Pride stormed home, overpowering Coop’N’Demp and Snip Of Magic to win the Gunnedah Lions Club & Volunteers Class 1 Handicap (1000m).
He won it in class record time too, his 56.57secs almost a half second quicker than the previous mark and just over half a second outside Lasting Faith’s 55.92secs track record.
Jockey Leanne Henry was full of praise for thr lightly- raced gelding.
“He went super,” Henry told co-owners Brad Roach, Ann Waters and Gleeson.
“They went a bit too quick for him early but he was always going to pick them up.
“He won it with three legs – imagine what he’d do with four!”
Henry was referring to the fact Pippi’s Pride had just recovered from a hoof injury.
“He had a quarter crack in his hoof,” Gleeson said.
“It didn’t seem too bad at first but then we had to work on it and finally had to cut away part of his foot.
“We haven’t been able to gallop him.
“We’ve just been trying to get him right since his win at Muswellbrook (October 22).”
That initial win was an exciting time for all concerned.
Gleeson, as most in the local racing scene know, has been battling cancer for three years.
He’s had a number of stays at The Mater undergoing chemotherapy.
While there, he met an extraordinary band of men and women, his nurses and doctors.
Three of his nurses – Brad Roach, Ann Waters and Louise Yager – decided they would buy a share in a racehorse with the young man who spoke so enthusiastically of his training and racing in general.
With Yager’s husband, Brad, and Steve and his wife Erin on board, they bought their promising young galloper at a sale a couple of years ago.
Gleeson’s father, Jim Gleeson, has helped bring Pippi’s Pride through so that Steve, now back into his training routine, can also help in the development of the gelding.
“We named him after a lady I met down there (The Mater),” Steve Gleeson said.
“She was a lovely lady. Her nickname was Pippi but unfortunately she passed away just after we bought him at the yearling sale.
“I went and saw her husband and asked him if we could name him after her.”
Roach said the four hours of travel to Gunnedah to see just over 50 seconds of racing was a delight.
“He’s our first horse too,” he said of the nursing staff trio’s previous racing history.
“We were happy to get that first win, let alone this one.”
Hang on, though.
Gleeson believes there is more to come.
“I think he’s quite capable of racing and winning in town,” he said.
“We’ll give him a spell first. He’s still very immature.”