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  • John Curtis


Photo credit: Bradley Photos

MONDAY: December 6, 2021: BORSALINA was brave at Hawkesbury yesterday – and her trainer is even braver!

Mick Attard, who suffered life-threatening injuries in a shocking stable accident on the first morning of the current season (August 1) and has been hospitalised since, got a “leave pass” to be on course to watch his mare win her second race since being purchased online late last year for what has now become a bargain price.

With apprentice Reece Jones deputising for currently suspended fellow apprentice Brock Ryan in the Jack Heasman Memorial Class 1 Handicap (1500m), Borsalina ($3) snatched victory from $61 roughie Mr Cantankerous in the shadows of the post.

There wasn’t a dry eye around the saddling enclosure as Attard and his wife Sharon awaited Borsalina’s return to the enclosure.

“It was great to be there and see her win,” Attard said this morning from his room at Westmead Hospital.

“I was allowed to go out to the races, and one of Borsalina’s owners picked me up.

“But she wouldn’t pee for quite a while when she was being swabbed after winning, and we didn’t leave the track until 4pm.

“We got her back to her stable, then I had a bit of a lie down as it had been such an exhausting day and I went back to hospital around 7pm.”

Attard, or “Uncle Mick” as he is referred to at Hawkesbury, was lunging a young horse West Elk on August 1, preparing him to race at Kembla Grange that afternoon when he caught him unawares.

The gelding double-barrelled him, inflicting critical multiple injuries.

Attard has already undergone several operations, and has been unable to take food or water by mouth.

Borsalina began her career in the Sydney stable of leading Melbourne trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, and had five trials for them without racing.

Her owners apparently despaired of her making city grade, and she was put up for sale on on November 26 last year.

After 32 individual bids, Sharon Attard purchased Borsalina for $5500 – and she has now earned nearly $65,000 from 13 starts for two wins and five placings.

The Dane Shadow four-year-old broke through at Hawkesbury on October 10 at $31 when ridden by Brock Ryan.

“Borsalina is a real trier,” Mick Attard said. “We know she gets through the wet ground, but hadn’t raced beyond 1500m and yesterday’s race was like 1600m because of the Heavy 9.

“Because Brock was suspended, he couldn’t ride her and spoke to Reece Jones on the phone to give him some valuable advice.

“He told him to hold her up as long as possible and not let her go on the home turn even if he felt she was travelling well enough to win by a couple of lengths.”

HOOFNOTE: Understandably, after such a big day yesterday, Attard didn’t pull up as well as Borsalina.

“I’m feeling a bit dehydrated,” he said. “But hopefully I’ll have some further good news this week and be allowed to go home next Monday before returning to hospital for another operation in March.”

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