Logan Savory14:40, Sep 26 2019
Kirstin Barclay is doing her best to remain positive.
Her dream of training and driving a horse in the 2019 New Zealand Trotting Cup has been shattered.
The connections of U May Cullect were handed news on Thursday morning that Southland’s star race horse will be sidelined for between four and six months.
U May Cullect was initially scratched from Sunday’s Hannon Memorial race because of a minor stone bruise.However earlier this week Barclay and fellow trainer Paul “Tank” Ellis felt the horse still wasn’t right.
A vet check on Thursday morning discovered a small tear in the lower tendon, ruling out any hope of him lining up in November’s New Zealand Cup.
The horse had quickly become the talk of Southland racing this year on the back of the left-field rise to New Zealand Cup hopeful.
Tom Kilkelly bought the horse for just $5200 at a weanling sale in Auckland, although he never made it to the race track until he was five.
Two tendon injuries held him back and Kilkelly acknowledges giving up on him as a racehorse was a possibility at one stage.
However, U May Cullect, or Carlos as he’s known around the stable, went from an unqualified five-year-old horse to winning seven in a row.
Carlos become the fairytale story of New Zealand harness racing.
“What he’s done has been amazing, not just for us, but he’s been really good for the industry. A lot of people outside [of harness racing] started to follow him,” Barclay says.
She admits the injury is gutting for everyone involved, including Barclay herself who was eyeing a shot at a drive in the New Zealand Cup.
“We were so close to having a crack. It’s the dream to race in the biggest race, but it’s not over.
“He could have another shot next year and we’ve got other promising horses coming through.”
It is a new injury rather the reoccurrence of older tendon problems, which Barclay says is positive.
She doesn’t see any reason why U May Cullect can’t return for another campaign next season.
“He’s showed he can come back from an injury. I’m staying positive.”
To add to an already tough week for Barclay, her dog, which ironically is named Carlos after the horse, was kicked by another horse and required surgery on Thursday afternoon.