Golden Duke, seriously injured as a three-year-old and laid off for over a year, has won twice from six starts since his return to racing in July this year.
The Paul Peter-trained four-year-old’s latest success was a game start-to-finish win under jockey Warren Kennedy in a MR89 Handicap over 1400m at Greyville on Sunday.
Things looked ominous for the Hyperpaint Syndicate in June 2019 when Golden Duke got a fright on the training track, broke loose and ran into a concrete wall, badly damaging his shoulder.
Peter said at the time: “He galloped back to the stables along a walkway, but missed the narrow entrance to the yard and crashed into the pre-cast wall. It was a shock and we thought we’d lose him.”
Golden Duke was unable to stand on all fours, with serious nerve damage in his shoulder, and the advice from two veterinarians was to have him euthanised as recovery would be almost impossible.
Dr Mike Ross, however, felt there was a small chance of recovery to a point where he might be able to stand up and, in time, retire to a paddock and Peter said: “We decided to hang on, we loved the horse, he was one of our promising youngsters so Dr Ross said we should give it a few days.”
Ross told: “Golden Duke is a sensible horse. He lay down for 48 hours, then we got him to stand up three times a day to force him into a position that he could hold down weight on his leg to relieve the other legs.
“If horses keep their weight on one leg they can develop laminitis in that leg, which is life-threatening. We treated him with anti-inflammatories and doses of other medications.
“But the fact that Golden Duke was sensible, helped us to help him put his leg into position and put weight on it. By five days it was amazing, we got a little bit of function back in his leg, but just a little. He was starting to be able to lock his leg into position and that gave us hope.
“Every day we had minute improvement. Really very little progress every day but progress nonetheless. He was able to do it for longer and longer. The amount of time he spent lying down became less and after a month we’d done what we can. We felt he was able to continue with physio-therapy, which was a miracle in itself. He suffered a very severe bruising of the radial nerve.”
Peter recalls: “When he came back from hospital, his muscle had wasted away, he’d obviously come along nicely but he was hobbling still. My assistant Robyn Klaasen offered to work with him, to try and get him to a point where he could perhaps run around in a paddock and retire.
“Robyn worked wonders, she gave him all the love, physio and attention he needed as she had studied equine science. She took him home, and the rest is history. He made a miraculous full recovery that took the best part of a year.”
Golden Duke, Drakenstein-bred, is by Duke Of Marmalade from Gr1 winner Spiced Gold, by Kahal, and Peter bought him for a steal at R75,000 from the 2018 Cape Premier Yearling Sale, a few months before his half-brother Chimichuri Run (Trippi), showed himself to be a runner from the top drawer.