The career of one of the all-time greats of New Zealand harness racing could be over. Champion trotter I Can Doosit could be retired this morning after his troublesome joint problems flared up yesterday.
Trainer Mark Purdon says the fetlock joints which forced I Can Doosit from the racetrack and on to the operating table last season are again showing signs of wear and tear.
"He is still a fair way from being ready to race so if he is having problems now it could be a real issue," Purdon told the Herald.
"He is definitely feeling one of them and maybe both so we got him x-rayed and we will look at those with Bill Bishop [vet] tomorrow and then make a decision.
"The final decision will be up to Ken and Karen [Breckon, owners] but it doesn't really look that good."
The problem is even worse with a topline trotter than a good thoroughbred or even pacer because they take so much ground work to even get to the trials, let alone the races.
And I Can Doosit is an extreme case as he is a huge lump of a horse who has never had the best action, so he puts his now eight-year-old body under enormous stress.
But those difficulties haven't stopped him developing from an immature young horse into one of the best trotters to ever race in the Southern Hemisphere.
He won the last two ever Interdominion Trotting Finals, as well as two Rowe Cups, a Dominion Handicap, NZ Trotting Free-For-All, National Trot and Harness Jewels.
They were part of a 55-start career in which he won 36 times, with seven placings for $1,445,774 in stakes, the highest earnings ever for a trotter who raced solely in the Southern Hemisphere.
His strike rate would have been higher but for his early immaturity and his problems later in life, although this time last year he had won 18 races in succession, all at the elite level.
"He has been a remarkable horse which is why, if his fetlocks are going to be giving him issues, he could be retired," says Purdon.
Purdon revealed only late in I Can Doosit's career how hard it was to develop him into the intimidating trotting machine he was, with his gait so flawed he would often bash his legs together at full speed, a problem known as "touching" in trotting.
"It wasn't ideal but he wanted to win so badly he kept going," says Purdon.
Even if this morning's vet report is better than expected, the writing now appears on the wall for the champ as he is still so far from race fitness and after the fetlocks were operated on last season there don't appear to be many treatment options left.
Meanwhile, Purdon will briefly give up the reins behind wonder mare Adore Me when she returns to Alexandra Park this Friday night.
Stable driver Blair Orange will take the reins behind the great pacer for the $30,000 Breeders Stakes, her first Auckland start since finishing second in the Woodlands Derby last season.
"Blair was going up to drive a couple of our other horses and I am very busy down here so was happy for him to drive her too," explained Purdon.
Purdon will come north on Sunday to oversee his 14-strong northern team for the next month.
Adore Me is set to clash with Bettor Cover Lover in a meeting of New Zealand's glamour mares on Friday week.
Can't do it any more?
*Champion trotter I Can Doosit could be retired today.
*He is suffering fetlock issues even though he hasn't raced since February.
*The eight-year-old has won more money than any other trotter to have raced solely in the Southern Hemisphere.
*Adore Me will have a new driver this Friday.
Courtesy of Michael Guerin and the New Zealand Herald