Day At The Track

Kerryn Manning's fight for fallen star

02:23 PM 05 Dec 2019 NZDT
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Motu Meteor,Harness racing
Motu Meteor
HRV

When Kerryn Manning heard the word euthanasia, her heart sank.

She had resigned herself to the likelihood Motu Meteor would never race again but was entirely unprepared for the shock veterinary recommendation.

Meteor’s legs had shown signs of wear and tear in the preceding months, a strong hint that his days competing at a high level may be numbered.

But the little horse loved his job and always gave 110 per cent on the track, an elite equine athlete in the truest sense.

His doting trainer simply refused to accept that the end of his racing career should also mean the end of his life.

“Meteor was a favourite of everyone at the stables and a really genuine trier at the races,” Kerryn reflected.

“So laid back, never a problem to deal with and also quite a handsome man. He just had to have the chance to find his forever home.”

Vets determined that on the balance of probabilities, Meteor had strained a ligament from his medial suspensory branch into his foot.

The injury could only be definitively diagnosed with an expensive MRI scan and had a poor outcome for a racing.

Given his medical history, leading owner Merv Butterworth chose not to proceed with the test, accepting that the curtain had come down on the six-year-old’s 40-start career, which reaped 14 wins and $252,295 in stake earnings.

“When Merv told me Meteor was going to be put down, I jumped straight on the phone to the vet,” Kerryn said.

“I hoped with appropriate rehab he could be saved as a paddock companion or for light riding duties and he said there was no reason why that couldn’t happen.

“Once I explained this to Merv, he was all for giving the horse the opportunity – he is a big owner who runs his harness racing interests as a business, but very kind-hearted and always wanting to do what he can for his horses."

Meteor’s racing owners, in fact, took their commitment a step further, agreeing to pay for the gelding’s upkeep during the crucial early months of his recuperation.

Once he completed his box confinement and the injury had healed to a stage where Meteor could be turned out into a larger area, Kerryn assumed ownership and responsibility.

He is currently resting comfortably in her retirement paddock at Great Western, having come through his rehabilitation with flying colours and now been cleared for rehoming.

Kerryn will be supported in the next stage of “Project Meteor” by Harness Racing Victoria HERO Program Manager Tanya McDermott.

“I’ve worked with Kerryn to rehome horses from her stable for more than a decade, so when the call came through of course I was going to do all I could to help,” Tanya said, qualifying that while the horse fell outside the HERO Program’s re-education and training framework, she had made a personal promise to assist.

“Both Kerryn and Merv are animal lovers who have demonstrated a passion for life after racing over many years – we previously rehomed Meteor’s older brother Motu Crusader via the HERO Program on their behalf.

“It’s been a privilege to follow their shared dedication to nursing Meteor back to health - he is trotting comfortably around the paddock, the leg is looking good and we have every reason to believe he will go on to enjoy a long, happy and rewarding life.

“He’s a really pretty horse (a son of super sire Bettors Delight) and not big, so he might be suitable for someone who would like a standardbred to show in hand.

“His temperament would also make him ideally suited to an equine therapy role or liberty training. Our main priority will be finding him a long-term home where he will have nothing but the very best care.

“He loves being around people so someone with the facilities to keep him close by and time to spend with him will be very important.”

 

HRV HERO

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