As Kings Will Dream shoots for successive Turnbull Stakes triumphs, the rehabilitation specialist who nursed him back to health when he was on his deathbed has laid bare just how close he was to dying after the 2018 Cox Plate.
Kings Will Dream continues to add new chapters to one of racing’s great fairytale stories but only now has the full story of the frightening days after he suffered a pelvic fracture when eased out of the race as Winx famously won her fourth Cox Plate been revealed.
“One wrong move and he would have bled out,” Laura Dixon, who operates Victoria’s Dowling View Equine Centre near Ballarat said, of the daily life-and-death battle for the star galloper after the ‘18 Cox Plate.
“With pelvis injuries we have to do our best to stop horses from laying down, something they would normally do at least once during the day.
“We had him cross-tied, it is a balancing act you’ve got to tie them long enough so they can reach food and water but not so that they can lay down.
“I have had probably half a dozen horses with pelvis injuries of varying degrees, he was one of the worst.
“Out of those six horses, two have got back to races, two have gone off to be broodmares or pony horses and the other couple haven’t survived.
“To be honest given his injury there was a slim chance he was going to survive let alone get back to the races – and to get back to race to his full capacity is absolutely amazing.”
Kings Will Dream on the first day at Laura Dixon’s rehab property.Source:Supplied
Kings Will Dream stunned the racing world last year when he returned from death’s door to snatch an extraordinary Turnbull Stakes win.
A year on – and without another win since – he is rated a $14 chance by TAB to make it back-to-back Turnbull wins in the 2000m Group 1 at Flemington on Saturday.
It has been a tale of triumph but could so easily have been one of tragedy.
Dixon was familiar with being a nurse to equine patients – she once helped Prince Of Penzance back to health after he suffered a colic attack and the horse famously later won Michelle Payne’s 2015 Melbourne Cup.
Laura Dixon with 2015 Melbourne Cup winner Prince of Penzance, she nursed him back to health from colic.Source:Supplied
But as much of this tale is a credit to Dixon and the vets who helped Kings Will Dream, it is also testament to the horse himself.
Dixon is convinced that a horse with a different temperament to the unflappable Kings Will Dream would have not made it through the darkest days after the devastating injury.
Kings Will Dream didn’t have much to do except stand up and take in his stable surroundings, sometimes gazing at other horses or staff, but he quite literally didn’t put a hoof wrong.
“This horse was quite a unique character – his best attribute was he was a good patient horse, he wasn’t stupid and he took care of himself,” Dixon said.
“There was a long list of problems that could have happened.
“If they can’t get their head down far enough they can’t clear their airways and they can get pneumonia, so you have got to have enough room for that but then they can’t lay down.
“And then there is potential laminitis from the lack of movement, obviously a horse is meant to move and graze all day – if they don’t their legs can swell up with fluid and things and then they can get secondary problems in their feet.
Kings Will Dream’s part-owner Brae Sokolski cries after the comeback galloper’s remarkable win in the Turnbull Stakes last year. (AAP)Source:AAP
“We got all those little measures right and he was tied up to a point where he could reach his food and water 24-7 but couldn’t lay down and he never tried to lay down.
“He stood quite calm and still in his box – he was in a box where he could see everyone else and he could see what was going on but there was not so much going on that he wanted to get out and jump around with them.
“He was allowed to walk around his box supervised, I would walk him around his stable to keep him moving but you had to be with him so he didn’t lay down, a couple of times through the day to keep his mind and everything stimulated.
“It really was like having a patient in hospital.”
Kings Will Dream had various medical treatments that helped his recovery.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy was used to give the injured galloper injections of his own platelets to accelerate healing and shockwave treatment was also used on the injured pelvis.
Kings Will Dream receiving shockwave treatment on his pelvis, as part of his rehab process.Source:Supplied
There were plenty of other major players along the road to recovery for Kings Will Dream, including trainer Matthew Williams who stepped into the fray with several weeks of fitness work after the galloper left Dixon’s care.
Chris Waller has been there for all the remaining steps in the journey – one which will again cause tears to flow freely all over Australia if he can conjure another Turnbull Stakes victory on Saturday.
A story of recovery! Remarkable victory.
Kings Will Dream defeats Finche to win the Turnbull Stakes. pic.twitter.com/fPQqcsRYwb
The emotion from Kings Will Dream’s connections is felt by everyone at #Flemington today. What a marvelous horse to comeback from injury to win the @tabcomau Turnbull Stakes. #Lovethehorse pic.twitter.com/clC6msI0RC
Originally published asTurnbull Stakes fairytale: ‘One wrong move and he would have bled out’
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