The career of one of the all-time greats of Australasian harness racing is over.
Champion trotter I Can Doosit has been retired 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.
And when vet Bill Bishop confirmed that to owner Ken Breckon first thing this morning, on his birthday, the call to retire the great horse was made.
“He is coming home now to retire at the farm,” said Breckon.
“It is a real shame but he has been a hell of a horse and we have loved racing him.”
The phone call this morning brought back memories of Breckon’s birthday two years ago when he was stunned to hear his best broodmare Sheezadoosie, I Can Doosit’s dam, had died in a paddock accident on their Waikato farm.
But there was one light-hearted moment yesterday for Breckon.
A cheque turned up at his Auckland office for the winning stake in last season’s Cochran Cup at Melton, which turned out to be I Can Doosit’s last race in which he finished second.
“It turns out the winner I Didnt Do It got disqualified after a long drawn out case, which was only resolved recently.
“So we actually got a winner’s cheque for the old boy yesterday after he was retired.”
The fetlock problems had bothered I Can Doosit last summer and wasn’t helped by the fact he is a huge lump of a horse who has never had the best action, so he put his now eight-year-old body under enormous stress.
But those difficulties never 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 Inter Dominion 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 but the problems with his fetlocks won’t get any better so he won’t be tried again,” 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.
*Video of I Can Doosit winning last year's Dominion.
By Michael Guerin (Courtesy of Harness Racing Australia)