Day At The Track

Resilient 'Moo' back from the brink

06:36 PM 04 Apr 2016 NZST
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Junior driver Katie McGill
Junior driver Katie McGill with Warana Court (Moo)

The connections of Warana Court are realistic, they know their horse is no equine star. The son of Lombo Mandingo, known in the stable as Marty Moo or Moo for short, has won six races in his 44 start career and has banked just over $24,000. The gelding has become a favourite of harness racing junior driver Katie McGill and has provided her with two of the five winners in her career. The pair has become great mates and their bond is as strong as could be so when Warana Court was 'out of sorts' last Thursday night at Penrith, McGill knew something was wrong.

Warana Court was set to compete in the fifth race but in the lead up to the fourth event, McGill sensed not all was right with the five year old.

"When he gets to the races he is normally half asleep but he just wasn't himself, he was very agitated and was kicking out," McGill said.

"The HRNSW vet came to take blood prerace and a couple of minutes after he had left I told Mum and Dad that the horse wasn't happy so they told me to go and get the vet back to have a look at him. The vet came and checked his temperature and heart rate but everything was normal."

After a discussion between the family and the vet, a decision was made to scratch the horse and he was administered with medication to help him relax.

"The medication was meant to last for a few hours but within 40 minutes he was agitated again, we started walking him and then drenched him with some paraffin oil. The vets told us we needed to get him to the nearest vet practice if we wanted to save him so we headed off to the Agnes Banks clinic."

On arrival at Agnes Banks Warana Court was scanned and a twisted bowel was diagnosed by Dr Derek Major.

"Derek told us it was in a bad spot and even if he was to operate there could be other complications."

Katie's mother Jill Cubitt could see the horse was in a bad way but so was her daughter and Dr Major spoke to her about the options for Warana Court.

"I didn't want to see the horse in pain but I didn't think the horse deserved for us to give up on him either," Cubitt said.

"Dr Major said there was a three hour window before the horse's gut would start to die so if he was going to improve it had to be in that three-hour window. Katie was in the stable with Warana Court's head in her lap so we decided to give him a chance and hope for a miracle. The bowel would need to untwist but the chances were slim"

The family took some photos with Warana Court and left the vet with the instruction to put the horse down if he was suffering. The staff promised to make a phone call during the night if there was any improvement but wouldn't wake the family with a call in the early hours of Friday morning if they were forced to put the horse down.

Katie and her parents returned home and when their phone failed to ring during the night, the family assumed the horse must have been put out of his misery. A call was made to the Agnes Bank clinic to confirm the worst, however surprisingly the news was good.

"Dr Major had stayed with him during the night and he told me he had started to pick up at 2am, exactly three hours after telling us that his gut would start to die within three hours," Cubitt said.

"Katie skipped a class at university to go and see him on Friday and the connection between them is very evident. When we arrived, the staff told us they had renamed Moo and they were calling him Jesus because he had comeback from the dead. I'm not very religious but I think we all said a few prayers on Friday night hoping he would improve."

"Warana Court had improved so much they put him out in a paddock at the vets and when Katie arrived and called out to him he lifted his head, whinnied and came running over to her. It was very special."

McGill was relieved to see Warana Court running around and she confirmed Dr Major let him go home on Friday night.

"We brought him home on Friday and he had a pretty easy weekend but it is great to have him home," McGill stated.

"He has been so hungry since he has come home, we haven't stopped feeding him since Friday night," Cubitt added.

After speaking with Dr Major about Warana Court's short term future, Cubitt revealed the gelding returned to work on Monday and should be back at the races in the near future.

"They have told us to take it slowly with him but while he is happy and eating to keep going with him. The only thing we have to check is what the withholding period is for all of the medication he has been given.

"Once we know that then he can go back to the races, I think his first start back is going to be a special night for all of us."

Greg Hayes

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