It’s been a bittersweet start to the season for Darryn Weatherley – while he is excited to welcome his daughter Briar into a training partnership, he will be without the services of his star galloper Mali Ston.
The son of El Roca had returned in good order following a stellar summer, which culminated in victory in the Gr.2 Rich Hill Mile (1600m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day and a placing behind The Chosen One in the Gr.1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham.
The now five-year-old gelding’s preparation was going to plan until a couple of weeks ago when he returned sore from the track.
“A couple of Saturday’s ago he came off the truck from the track and he was sore like he had a stone bruise,” Weatherley said.
“It never got better so I got the vet to x-ray it and my worst fears came to fruition – a broken pedal bone.
“He must have kicked the wall at the track in the tie-up stalls, or something like that.
“We have got the bar plate on and he is confined to a box. We just hope he heals up and we will give him plenty of time to get over it.
“We won’t look to do anything with him until this time next year.”
It is gut-wrenching for Weatherley, who was looking forward to some big targets this spring with the gelding after such a successful four-year-old term.
“He went a long way in a short time. He won his maiden race as a three-year-old and won four in a row when he came back in,” Weatherley said.
“It was in his seventh start that he won the Rich Hill, and he then ran third in the Thorndon Mile carrying the grandstand when better performed horses were better off in the weights just because it was set weights and penalties.
“Not taking anything away from The Chosen One, but he carried 55kg and we carried 57kg, and he had won $2 million before that and we were having our eighth start. It was a huge effort in the Thorndon Mile.”
While downhearted about the loss of his stable star, Weatherley is excited about welcoming his daughter Briar into a training partnership.
“It’s cool – she deserves a chance,” Weatherley said. “It is a family affair anyway. She has been with me for five years and it is a good opportunity for her.
“She loves racing and is very passionate about it.”
The pair have a few nice horses they are looking forward to stepping out on the track in the coming months, including Derby runner Ess Vee Are and Maria Farina, who accompanied Mali Ston to a one-race campaign in Sydney in autumn.
“Ess Vee Are is back in work. He did his first bit of three-quarter pace on Saturday morning and he is going along really well,” Weatherley said.
“We have no real set plans yet. We will get him to a trial and then look where to go. We are just treading water while the tracks are as bad as they are.
“Maria Farina is at the same stage as Ess Vee Are - she had a bit if three-quarter pace work last week.
“She is a real good track horse, so we are going to bide our time with her until the tracks turn. We are hoping she gets to Hawke’s Bay if the tracks are better by then.”
Weatherley said there are also a few promising youngsters amongst their ranks.
“We are lucky enough to have a couple of Proisir three-year-old geldings that have both had two trials for two wins. They have shown a bit of promise. Arby is one and Pier is the other,” he said.
“A horse that won his last start for us Classic Beethoven looks quite promising as well.
“We have got quite a few nice ones there, it is just a shame the best one is out.”