SUNDAY: October 10, 2021: HAWKESBURY racecourse couldn’t have a crowd on course for its meeting today – but it didn’t stop the place being awash with emotion!
And so too in a room at Westmead Hospital where local trainer Mick Attard cheered home his first provincial winner as $31 roughie Borsalina steamed home in the XXXX Gold Maiden Plate (1100m).
It gave him the “kick” he needed to aid his recovery after the unkindest kick of all nearly cost him his life on the morning of the first day of the new racing season (August 1).
Attard was preparing one of his horses (West Elk) to race at Kembla Grange later that afternoon when he was double-barrelled (kicked hard) and sustained critical multiple injuries.
“That was terrific medicine today to see that mare (Borsalina) win,” Attard said from his hospital bed.
“I’ve been giving trackwork instructions to my wife Sharon and son Lee, and we were confident she could run in at least the top three today.
“I must have been making a noise watching the race on my phone as the nurses came running in to see what the problem was.
“They thought I was having a heart attack.”
Attard certainly doesn’t need that as he has been through more than enough, and won’t be back on deck for a while yet. He has undergone three operations, and cannot take food or drink by mouth until he has another operation in March.
“I was lunging the horse that morning when he double-barrelled me,” he said.
“I’m very lucky to be alive; I nearly wasn’t.”
Former jockey Attard’s wife Sharon, who saddled Borsalina today with the assistance of fellow Hawkesbury trainers Claire Lever and Lucy Keegan-Attard, bought the mare online through bloodstockauction.com late last year for $5500.
The now four-year-old, a daughter of Dane Shadow, had trialled on five occasions in Sydney for original trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, but did not race.
Her owners decided to sell her when it didn’t appear as though she would measure up to city grade.
Borsalina was having her 10th start for the Attard stable and had been placed four times at the provincials.
“We gave her a break after she raced at Kembla Grange in July, and she has come back a stronger mare,” Mick Attard said.
Talented Kembla apprentice Brock Ryan gave Borsalina a perfect run behind the pace after she began awkwardly, and took full advantage of an inside passage on straightening.
The mare maintained a determined burst to defeat another outsider, Adelina ($20), and The Globe ($3.60).
Borsalina was only Attard’s third starter in this new season. He won races with Gohan at Cowra in November, 2019 and again in November last year, at Goulburn.
As well as training a small team, Mick Attard also helped out Hawkesbury co-trainers Jason Attard and Lucy Keegan-Attard until his accident.
Though unrelated, the Attards refer to him as “Uncle Mick”, and Lucy Keegan-Attard kindly opened a “Go Fund Me” page to assist with his medical bills and recovery; an initial goal of $10,000 being easily reached and surpassed with great support, especially from the Hawkesbury racing community.
Thus it was fitting on such an emotional day that Team Attard also should figure in the winning list at their home track.
They won the TAB Provincial & Country Maiden Plate (1400m) with lightly-raced Artie Schiller mare Oh Golly Gosh ($2.60), who easily accounted for well-backed first starter Loch Eagle ($1.90 favorite).
Oh Golly Gosh, who races in the pink colours of Kate Nivison’s Etak Thoroughbreds, was having only her fifth start and appears to have a bright future.
“We haven’t pushed her because she has had feet problems, and the farriers have done a brilliant job to enable us to get her to the track,” Jason Attard explained.
“There’s a 1500m Class 1 Handicap at Hawkesbury on October 26, but we’ll see how she comes through today’s race and be guided by her progress before confirming her next run.”
There was a touch of irony in the result as Oh Golly Gosh is the first foal of the Magic Albert mare By Golly Molly, who was prepared by Loch Eagle’s Newcastle trainer Kris Lees.
Like her daughter, By Golly Molly also won her first race at Hawkesbury in February, 2016 in a 1300m Maiden Plate.
. To say it was quite a day for the Attard name would be some understatement! Lucy Keegan-Attard also had an earlier “winner”, deputising for Warwick Farm trainer Clarry Conners to saddle HRC Motel 2YO Maiden Plate (1000m) winner Okami Miss ($8.50).