Day At The Track

Breeding barn is next for grand old mare

04:00 PM 14 Sep 2019 NZST
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Peter Hornsby’s grand old campaigner  Nica MacDonon,Harness racing
Peter Hornsby’s grand old campaigner Nica MacDonon is heading to the breeding barn on a winning note

Enthusiastic and successful Shepparton harness racing breeder and owner Peter Hornsby is adamant that there will be no more racetrack comebacks for his grand old trotter Nica MacDonon.

"That is definitely it - she can go out on a winning note and hopefully get in foal during the coming stud season," Hornsby said.

Nine-year-old mare Nica MacDonon, prepared by Mark Lee and driven by his partner Stacey Towers, gave her younger rivals a lesson at Shepparton last Tuesday night with a solid performance after starting from the 30-metre handicap.

Nica MacDonon's (Eilean Donon USA-Styx (R C's Dee Jay) latest success was her 14th victory. In addition, she has been placed 33 times and, with earnings of $132,000, has been a great money-spinner for Hornsby.

"We retired her 12 months ago, but she missed getting in foal, so we decided to give her another racing campaign," Hornsby said.

"She recaptured her form and ended up winning the Trotter of the Year award at Shepparton with a consistent season," he said.

"Her main attribute has always been that she's very durable. She is also as honest as they come and is good gaited. But she's retired now and already booked into Volstead."

Swedish Group One winning stallion Volstead, a top son of Cantab Hall out of Madame Volo (Yankee Glide) won races each year aged three to seven. He is standing at Haras des Trotteurs, part of the elite Yabby Dam Racing empire at Cardigan, near Ballarat.

The Shepparton win by Nica MacDonon was an early present for Hornsby who celebrated a birthday the following day.

"We didn't kick on after her win. It was a bit late for me because the race was at 10pm!" he said.

Hornsby has shown deft touch over the years as a trainer, driver and self-taught farrier, winning an incredible amount of good races and breeding many smart horses.

"Most of them have been trotters. I think I only ever trained two pacers and I recall driving another in a race one time for a friend," he said.

"I've had lots of hand-downs, but I got a lucky break soon after I started out with two horses, both trotters, that I got from an old guy called Reg Moore, who had a rich history in the sport. This was back in the 1980s.

"Mount Jacardigan Vic won nine races and Random Height ended up with 13 wins. We got the money at tracks including Shepparton, Ballarat, Echuca, Wedderburn, Cranbourne and Moonee Valley.

"I landed my first winner in 1986 and drove up until 2011, when a horse fell on me and I broke my shoulder."

It was the nasty injury that triggered the start of a successful association with Mark Lee and Stacey Towers who had moved to the district from Sydney.

"Stacey had a young baby and while she was out driving my horses, I would be wheeling the pram around," Hornsby said.

"I enjoyed driving, but I was probably better at the training side because I loved getting them very fit so they would be tough in their races," he said.

R C's Dee Jay-sired mare Styx was a gritty racehorse for the former Tongala-based trainer with five wins and two placings from just 17 starts. But it was her brilliance as a broodmare where she excelled. From 12 foals she produced such stars as River Red (by Yentls Image) 28w, 23p $167,000; Zesta (by S J's Photo) 17w, 3p $143,000; Adhesive (by Straphanger) 5w, 8p $68,000; now retired Nica MacDonon; and Col Du Galibier (by Great Success) 4w, 26p $42,000, which is still racing.

Zesta claimed such top races as the $50,000 Derby at Maryborough, $55,000 Breeders Crown Final, $30,000 G1 Oaks and $15,000 Lightfoot Laurels and was nominated by Hornsby as his best.

"She was a real genuine horse, who won 12 straight at one stage. But Stacey would probably say Adhesive is her favorite, because they won the $50,000 3yo G1 Trotters Oaks eight years ago and had a NSW Oaks placings," he said.

Hornsby, a former schoolteacher who changed tack to become a pig farmer, said harness racing had been good to him.

"I've got a lot of fond memories and still enjoy going out to Mark and Stacey's place with the horses. I also help out at the Shepparton meetings wherever I can," he said.


Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura


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