Champion pacer Lochinvar Art returns to racing nearly a year after last start
by Adam Hamilton
Lochinvar Art, the champion point guard from Down Under, is about to defend his title in one of our biggest races.
When Lochinvar Art won the $500,000 Group 1 Hunter Cup A in Melbourne last year, it was his 10th victory in his last 11 starts and he was the toast of the sport.
Race 7: Tabcorp Park, Saturday 10-10-2020 Pryde’s Easifeed Victoria Cup (Group 1) (N° 90 to 120.) Winner: Lochinvar Art (4) Trainer & Driver: David Moran Race Distance: 2,240 Meters, Mile Rate: 1.51.4 (New course record) Photograph: Stuart McCormick
He was starting to earn comparisons with some of the greatest of all time.
But, as unfortunately often happens with great horses, an injury intervened.
Just days after the Hunter Cup, as Lochinvar Art prepared for a raid in Sydney on the $1Amil Miracle Mile, a nasty hoof abscess appeared. It was to be the start of a nightmare for trainer/driver David Moran.
As Moran raced time to get Lochinvar Art through the backhand and into a prep run at the Miracle Mile, he discovered that the abscess had actually spread deeper into his leg and could even threaten his career.
The game’s biggest star in this part of the world might have run her last race, as she was on the stepping stone to eternal greatness.
“It has been a scary few weeks. We just couldn’t control it,” Moran said.
Surgery, lots of treatments and a long rehabilitation program later and Lochinvar Art returned to racing last Saturday night (January 15)… 49 weeks after winning that Hunter Cup.
While Modern Art‘s son didn’t win, it was a win on many levels in the eyes of Moran and owner Kevin Gordon.
“You can’t ask for more than that. He did all the work at a critical time when the leaders sped up. He forged ahead anyway and it wasn’t until late when the effort kicked in and his condition came to light that a lovely horse (Spirit Of St Louis) knocked him down,” said Moran said.
“I knew he was fit, but you can only get them fit without racing. He will come a lot for that.
But can he achieve a full and remarkable record of consecutive Hunter Cup wins in less than three weeks?
“Based on this race and the fact that I’m going to put another one on him, yes. He is where I need him now. He thrives on running. I think he will be at his peak or very close for the Hunter Cup,” Moran said.
In a nice twist of camaraderie, one of Moran’s main rivals on the track, the man who co-coaches and will drive his main Hunter Cup rival, Luke McCarthy, has been instrumental in Lochinvar Art’s recovery .
“I’m good friends with Luke and he and Belinda (McCarthy’s wife) have the most amazing facilities at their place (Cobbitty Equine). They did all the rehabilitation and I couldn’t believe how awesome and advanced the horse was when I picked him up about a month ago,” Moran said.
Lochinvar Art has beaten McCarthy superstar King Of Swing in their last two meetings in Victoria’s two biggest races, the Hunter Cup and Victoria Cup.
They will lock the horns again on February 5.
Oh, and just to add another layer to Lochinvar Art’s resurrection, he also held his first season at stud, something of a cameo, during his rehab phase with the McCarthys.
“Part of their facility is also a stud farm, so we decided to give ‘Arty’ a chance to breed some mares as well. It served about 30 people I think,” Moran said.
Lochinvar Art will have another prep race, either at Ballarat this Saturday or Melton the following week, before chasing one of the most notable Hunter Cup victories in big race history.
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It was great to spend some time with the wild McCarthy brothers during their time in Australia.
Andy and Todd McCarthy return to the United States with bold ambitions for 2022.
And what is very clear is that they now consider American home and have no plans to return to Australia anytime soon.
“No, he (the United States) is at home now. Maybe when I retire we could think about going back to Australia, but that’s still a long way off. We love it there, the people are so great,” Andy said.
Todd added: “It surprised me a little how quickly I felt at home too. Sure, I miss my family and friends here, but the United States is my home now. And I can’t wait to get back to it.
“It’s been a really good and fun few weeks here and the timing is working well, but I had really gained momentum towards the end of the year and there are a lot of horses I can’t wait to team up with again. “