By Ray Hickson
A grey quarter horse and a shetland pony make up the motley crew inaugural Kosciuszko winner Belflyer counts as his mates in retirement.
You’ll find the rising nine-year-old right in his element on a 60 acre property about an hour west of Gladstone in Queensland and Troy Hogan, who part-owned the gelding in his racing career, couldn’t be happier to have him around.
“We have a white quarter horse, Goldie, she’s the boss and wherever she goes he’s half a length behind her,’’ Hogan said.
“My daughter has a Shetland and they all cruise around together, they are inseparable the three of them.
“He’s probably the most gentle one we’ve got, wherever you are it’s like he’s attached to you. He puts his head over your shoulder, he’s just a real sweetheart.
“We love him, he’ll outlive most of us I reckon. Mum and dad have got 60 acres and there are only a couple of horses on it so he has the run of the place.”
Belflyer’s racing days were cut short when he suffered a hair line fracture to the pelvis, Hogan suspects it happened in last year’s Kosciuszko which goes a long way to explaining his failure.
The vets recommended retirement and that the horse not be ridden for 12 months but it’s clear to Hogan that his recovery has been swift and he’s a happy horse.
“After the race he pulled up very sore but when they tried to shoe him he wouldn’t let them lift his feet,’’ he said.
“We were so confident going into it, especially after that trial at Grafton where he had a 65kg saddle on. He was ready and we really thought he was going to go on with it.
“When the reports came back to be retired we picked him up and brought him back home. I think my wife’s pretty attached to him now and he’ll be here for another 20 years.
“He looks like he’s been in the paddock for a while. We’ve had a bit of rain, he’s got mud on him and half an inch of fur but he’s in great shape.’’
The Kosciuszko and the TAB Everest will take on a different look in 2020 run without Belflyer and Redzel, who have contested each running of the respective feature races, for the first time.
In reflecting on the ride Belflyer took him, the other owners and trainer John Shelton, Hogan said he couldn’t have imagined it when they selected the horse out of Victoria with the intention to race him in the Rockhampton area.
He said when Shelton took over the training in mid-2017 the horse just exploded.
“We bought him as a four-year-old as a class 3 horse and he was kicking around south east Queensland,’’ he said.
“John really unlocked what he could do and when he was with John we thought we might have something special.’’
When The Kosciuszko was introduced Beflyer was racing in good form and despite running second in the Ramornie Handicap, Hogan needed to get inventive to secure a spot in the race.
That’s where the $5 ticket winners Thad King, Nathan Lavers and Richie Butterworth came in and the decision was made to offer them a share in Belflyer as part of the deal.
It was still an unlikely win, though, as he started $71 (the second roughest in the race) but rounded up the classy line up as though he was one of the favourites.
“I think I had about two weeks on the phone trying to sell a 60/1 horse, that’s why we came up with the ownership thing to get it over the line,’’ Hogan said.
“They took a punt on him and it came good.
“To get a horse winning on a day like that, and to get him in there, it was incredible, it’s hard to put into words.’’
The third running of the $1.3m The Kosciuszko (1200m) at Royal Randwick will be held on October 17 and the $5 tickets are on sale via TAB outlets and the TAB app until Wednesday 8 September with the 14 winners drawn a day later.
The 14 winners can then enter into a partnership with the owners of their preferred horse, effectively becoming a part-owner for the day, and agree to a split of the prizemoney.