Natalie Rasmussen says there will be no more comebacks for Australasia's richest-ever pacer, Blacks A Fake. The veteran harness racing hero has been retired after finishing second to former New Zealand pacer Georgetown in Saturday night's (July 23 Winter Cup in Brisbane.
Trainer-driver Rasmussen has hinted at retirement for Blacks A Fake before, but says she has been forced to put the great one back into work when he wouldn't settle.
The Queensland horsewoman says enough is enough and the time has come for Blacks A Fake to learn to relax.
Her mind was made up when the 10-year-old son offailed to down Georgetown, trained and driven by former Waikato horseman Michael Langdon, a horse he would have beaten by five lengths in his prime.
"I've always said I wouldn't keep him when he'd lost his greatness and now the time is right," she said.
"He's been through a lot in the past year or so. He did me proud becoming the only horse to qualify for a sixth Interdominion final in Auckland.
"I was going to retire him after that, but he had other ideas. He'll have to deal with it now. He's done enough."
Her decision brings to an end one of the most remarkable careers in Australasian racing.
Few horses of any code have displayed the sustained courage and ability of Blacks A Fake, winning at the absolute highest level for six years.
And that was after his career was interrupted by contracting equine influenza.
Blacks A Fake rarely looked the fastest and was definitely not the flashest pacer of his era, with his doubters claiming he raced at a time when the Grand Circuit was not blessed with greatness.
But at his best, which he was able to produce for an amazing period of time, he was almost pacing perfection.
He had gate speed, enormous stamina, good enough manners to win a Hunter Cup off a 30m handicap and the speed to pace a sub 1:51 mile.
He was past his best when he came to Auckland in April for the Interdominions but even then, just weeks after a heart problem, he finished third in the Interdominion Final.
And he may have his world record career earnings boosted further even in retirement.
If Smoken Up loses the final because of a positive swab at a hearing next month, Blacks A Fake will add $40,000 to his bankroll.
Perhaps the only shame about his career was that he never competed in a New Zealand Cup, a race that under its modern free-for-all conditions would have seemed his for the taking.
But while most New Zealand racing fans never got to see him at his best, there can be no doubt Blacks A Fake takes his place alongside Cardigan Bay, Young Quinn and company on the list of Australasia's greatest pacers.
By Michael GUERIN (Courtesy of the NEW ZEALAND HERALD)
Blacks A Fake's last ever race: