Three-time Australian horse of the year Westburn Grant, a champion with strong New Zealand links, has died, aged 34.
Foaled in 1985 he was the winner of 38 races from 67 starts, earning over two million dollars.
Bred by Barney and Colleen Breen, who lived in Prebbleton just outside Christchurch, the horse was by Land Grant out of Westvue Vue.
The Breens continued in the ownership along with Vic Frost who trained and drove him in all his races. He was retired after an unplaced performance at the 1993 Interdominions in Brisbane and lived out his retirement on Frost’s property at Exeter in New South Wales.
“He’d had a tumor on his neck and went downhill in the last week. It’s a really sad time … I raced him Mum (Westburn Vue) and he’s been with me since he was born,” Frost said.
“He’s had a fantastic life, he was almost 35. He’s had the run of the place at home here with Gail (Frost’s wife) and I. He’d help himself to the hay shed and wander from one horse to another to stand next to them, many of those horses his descendants. Gail pampered him like nothing else.
“What a super racehorse he was, too. He had blistering speed and could do it early or late, as well as having a fair bit of stamina.
“They rang us and said they’d put on a $100,000 bonus for any horse who could win the three races. From memory, they said only one horse had done it before,” Frost recalled.
“I think they scrapped the bonus straight after that.”
“It was a great trip. We stayed at Barney Breen’s place and trained him at Derek Jones’ place.”
This week the Breen’s oldest daughter Kate Patterson reminisced about the horse that was nicknamed “Spot”.
“I remember dad saying that he was like a dopey donkey in the stalls but once he got on the track..”
Kate Patterson remembers a lot of speculation about drugs at the time and says that her Dad was asked by a spectator “what is that horse on?”
And her father’s reply? “He said ‘N.A. – Natural Ability’.”
Westburn Grant was a fighter. In 1991 he had four screws inserted into a shattered pastern following a training accident in Perth in January. He won the 1992 Interdominion final a year later.
In all the horse won 15 Group Ones, including back-to-back Miracle Miles at Harold Park in 1989 and 1990.