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Image: Steve Hart

We know most trainers generally do the hard yards anyway in terms of their commitment to the time and effort required to keep their business moving along, but every now and then they also have to deal with a curve ball that makes their task just that little bit more difficult.

You can ask trainer Lauren Abbott about that!

Abbott, who is based in Brisbane, had Kievaan engaged in the fifth race at Grafton yesterday. The results page shows that Kievaan came back a winner, but that hardly tells the story of the quite literally, long road that Abbott had to take to give herself the chance victory even before the horse jumped from the starting barriers.

“Up until the win, yesterday was a really awful day, considering I got up at 1.45am,” said Abbott. “it was a long stressful day.

“Last time that horse won at Grafton, I took Kievann down the night before and I had planned to do that again, but then I had a runner in the last race at the Sunshine Coast on Sunday at 6pm, so I wasn’t going to be able to do that.

“I got to bed about 8.30 or 8.45pm on Sunday night and then I got up at 1.45am to get to the stables, load the horse up and take him the 320 odd kilometres to Grafton.

“I thought, what I will do is I’ll just get up really early, get him down there to Grafton so he is down there for his breakfast … and Michael Beattie (the Club CEO) always gets me a couple of boxes on course.

“I got down there I think it was 7.30 their time. I put the horse in the boxes, and I went and got a motel room just to go and get a couple hours of sleep.

“That obviously didn’t happen because I got a call from Michael saying, ‘look, I’m just talking with the stewards now, but they are thinking about scratching your horse.’

“He said that Racing New South Wales had decided that no one from Brisbane (which was about to go into a three-day Covid-19 related lockdown) was now allowed to come into the track. He said he would get back to me.

“I then phoned Jeff Lloyd (Zac Lloyd’s manager) and asked if Zac, who was due to ride the horse, was still able to come because he is from the Gold Coast, but then he wasn’t allowed to … so I was left waiting to find out about the scratching verdict … and now my jockey wasn’t coming to ride, and he is a tricky horse ride.

“Michael then came back to me again and said the horse would be allowed to start, but I obviously could not be on course.

“I had to move the horses away from the track at that time though, so I had to pick them up and drive around with them for … I don’t know, half an hour, maybe an hour … before I could bring them back and hand the horse over to people at the gate, who Michael had arranged to look after him at the track.

“And then I was still stuck without a jockey. The stewards had said I had to replace and apprentice with an apprentice and someone said Casey Waddell is quite a good rider, so I said she could ride him.

“That was fine, but obviously I wasn’t going to get the chance to talk to her. Michael rang me while they were walking around the mounting yard and he was able to pass on my instructions at the last minute.

“I was still quite anxious about the race because he is a horse that doesn’t like strangers much. He is a bit stand-offish. I had to hand him over to someone he doesn’t know at the gate and he had to go and get saddled up with someone he doesn’t know.

“The strapper said afterwards, ‘he went to bite me’ and I said, yeah, he would do that because he doesn’t know who you are. He is a bit of a funny old horse like that.

“Then there was the rider issue. Jeff and I had talked about how Zac should ride the horse so Zac had already been spoken to about the horse and he had pretty much half a day to work out what he wanted to do in the race … while Casey, the poor girl, had like half a minute to think about what she was going to do.

“I watched the race on my phone but, as most people know, the delay on there means that they were pretty much already in the home straight before the horses jumped on the phone video.

“Then somebody said, Kievaan has won … so I didn’t even get to watch the race properly … but, of course I would take that result anytime. It was a nice change of fortune.

“The drive home wasn’t so bad but, overall, it was still a really stressful day.

“I thought I was doing the right thing getting there early, and I probably did do the right thing because, if I didn’t get there that early, things could well have worked out differently.

“I did drive home after the meeting because I’ve got horses in at Ipswich today. I worked all of my horses on Sunday, so yesterday was like their Sunday … their day off … but I worked them again today.

“I should get home nice and early from Ipswich, so I looking at having a good sleep tonight.

“I just can’t thank Michael Beattie enough for everything he did for me on the day at Grafton and everything he always does for me and others when we go down there.

“Even when I nominate, he rings and asks if we need boxes. When the meeting is in doubt, like the other day, he gives you constant updates of what the track is like.

“He is really good at looking after everybody and we appreciate it.”

 
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