By Julieanne Horsman
When the two-year-old chestnut gelding Rod Sheraton bought from an online auction site stepped off the truck in Sydney he was skinny, ragged-looking and had crooked feet.
Rod had only paid $1,500 for him from a seller in Rockhampton and at first glance wasn’t even sure he’d make the track.
"The poor bugger, he’d had a tough life up until then and I wanted to give him a go,” Rod said.
Rod, a policeman from Campbelltown, collected $75 from 19 of his mates who then put their heads together to name their new racehorse. It wasn’t long before they came up with a name that would earn the horse a cult following regardless of his ability. Luckily for punters, The Houso can run.
“Without making generalisations or offending anyone, police obviously have a lot of experience with public housing and some of us grew up in public housing and have done alright for ourselves,” Rod said.
While there’s no denying he is a bit of a battler, this houso is earning his keep too.
The Kerry Parker-trained gelding boasts a perfect record of two wins from two starts and will be looking for a hattrick at Moruya on Sunday.
He’ll line up in the Smith & Co Class 2 Handicap over 1300m and will most likely start favourite as he has done in his previous races.
The Houso debuted with a hard-fought win at Moruya on 21st November, prompting declarations the TABs in Western Sydney had gone broke as a result.
He followed it up with another win at Queanbeyan two and half weeks later.
“We couldn’t believe our luck,” Rod said. “This once scraggly little horse who we paid $75 each for had won two in a row.”
Trainer Kerry Parker wasn’t surprised though.
“He trialled really well, too well actually,” he said. “I was trying to cover him up but there’s not much you can do when they come out and win an open trial by four-and-a-half lengths.
“The 1300m this Sunday will suit him. The 59kg is a concern but he did win on debut with that weight.
“He’s drawn gate 6 of 6 so he will have to try and take up a handy position. If he drew a gate he could have got the cruisy run behind the leader but from the outside he might have to cross over and lead or be handy at least.
“He’s going super though and is ticking all the boxes for me.”
The Houso didn’t make his debut until he was five years old. He bowed a tendon in a trial as a two-year-old and was essentially retired to another owner’s farm at Kiama for a couple of years. His owners decided to give him another crack when scans revealed the injury had healed. He was slowly put into rehab then training and now he’s making up for lost time.
“He’s thriving down here,” Parker said. He’s only 15 hands but eats as much as the bigger horses. He’s a real character, he makes a lot of noise if you don’t pay him attention. He just loves stable life and tries his heart out in work and at the races.”
Despite his rough start to life, The Houso isn’t bitter or jealous of those horses who were born with a silver trough in their stable. He’s taking every opportunity that comes his way. He even has his own facebook page to keep fans updated.
“People are always asking how The Houso is going, how did he get his name,” Rod said. “It’s a bit of fun and everyone has a good laugh about it.”