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    Group One winner enjoying new lease on life Group One winner enjoying new lease on life

    KIM PROCTER with Wolf Stride

    WALKING into a barn full of quality pacers and trotters, Kim Procter took an instant liking to a “handsome boy”. Upon asking which horse... Group One winner enjoying new lease on life

    WALKING into a barn full of quality pacers and trotters, Kim Procter took an instant liking to a “handsome boy”.

    Upon asking which horse it was, Procter was told the name in a manner which suggested it meant something . . . and to most harness racing enthusiasts it would.

    To Procter, however, no bells rang . . . he remained just a “handsome boy”, that is until she researched the pacer on the national website!

    “It was late 2020 when Anthony (Butt) and Sonia (Smith) had just moved down from Sydney and set up a stable at Melton, where I had moved too not long before,” Procter said. “They advertised for a worker, so I applied and got the job.

    “As soon as I walked in, one horse just stood out among the others and he was instantly my favourite just on his looks.

    “I asked who he was and was told ‘Wolf Stride’ like I was supposed to be impressed, but I’d never heard of him.

    “In my defence, while living in Adelaide, I never really paid any attention to New South Wales racing, so I knew nothing about him and the fact he was considered one of the rising stars of the sport.

    “I hate to say it, but we are sometimes pretty sheltered from the outside world in South Australia.”

    At the time of their meeting, Wolf Stride had won six of his nine starts in Butt and Smith’s care, including the Group One Regional Championship and was being touted as a Grand Circuit campaigner in the making.

    “They had so many wonderful horses there, but Wolf remained my favourite,” Procter said. “If I could, I would have spent all day with him.

    “Whenever he raced, I immediately put my hand up to be the strapper, including going to Wagga with Anthony for the 2021 Regional Championships a few months later.

    “Anthony and Sonia even let me do the barrier draw for him in the Ballarat Cup, but I was heartbroken when I picked up the hat which had barrier nine.

    “He finished third in the Cup and it was a terrific run despite the barrier I left him with.”

    Procter felt heartbroken again several months later when it was announced Butt and Smith would no longer be training Wolf Stride and his stablemates for owners Emilio and Mary Rosati.

    The fact Procter and her co-workers were suddenly unemployed came second to waving goodbye to Wolf Stride!

    WOLF STRIDE winning the Group One Allied Express Sprint at Club Menangle

    As luck would have it, Wolf Stride was transferred to Andy Gath just 20 minutes away, with the premier horseman also in need of a stablehand.

    “I was so rapt to follow Wolf Stride to Andy’s place,” Procter said. “But he was only there for a couple of months before he was sent to Sydney, and I have to admit, I was a bit teary thinking I’d never see him again.”

    Fast-forward to October, 2022 and Wolf Stride was now in the care of top New South Wales horseman Jack Trainor, who was preparing to bring the son of Rock N Roll Heaven to Victoria for the Inter Dominion.

    “I was so excited he was coming and I asked Jack if I could strap him, and as luck would have it, Jack said he would appreciate the help as he had two horses in the series that needed strapping on race night,” Procter said.

    “So I followed him around the state, driving to Shepparton, Geelong and Ballarat on race night just to strap him.”

    Missing the Final, Wolf Stride was given a short break before returning to racing at Club Menangle on January 28, in what would be his last start.

    “He damaged his suspensory so badly that night he had to be instantly retired,” Trainor said. “The fact he did it during the run and managed to finish third was testimony to his determination.

    “The vet reported the injury was as worse as it reached the point he was lucky to still be walking around.”

    Upon hearing the news of Wolf Stride’s retirement, Procter made the bold move of contacting Emilio with a proposal.

    “I got a call out of the blue asking what I planned on doing with Wolf Stride,” Emilio said. “He had to remain boxed up at the vet’s for at least six weeks and after that the only priority was to find him a good home.

    “When I was asked if Kim could give him that home, I didn’t hesitate to say ‘yes’ as I knew she had a love for him purely as a horse and would treat him like a family member.

    “After he was given the ‘all clear’ from the vet to travel, I sent him down to Kim, but made the transport driver come past my place first so I could say goodbye to him.”

    Given the required six months to recover, Wolf Stride was sent to Hilltop Horsemanship last month to be broken-in under saddle by Elle Moro.

    Showing the qualities that carried him to 19 wins and 13 placings from 46 starts, the triple Group One winner was a ‘natural’ to re-educate.

    “He was so easy to do anything with . . . he was a natural,” Moro said. “He’s a very intelligent horse and was wonderful to work with.

    KIM PROCTER having her first ride on triple Group One winner, Wolf Stride

    “In fact, he quickly became my favourite while he was here and I looked forward to spending time with him and riding him around the property.

    “Along with being a good-looking horse, there is something about his personality; he has a presence about him and I can see why Kim loves him so much.

    “As soon as I saw Kim in the saddle on his back, I could see the glow in her face and knew she was meant to own him.

    “Kim’s partner, Paul, asked if he could ride ‘Wolfie’ and I just looked at him and said: “you’re never getting on that horse . . . he’s Kim’s.”

    Hearing the news of Wolf Stride’s new lease on life, Emilio was thrilled with the result while discussing the importance of re-homing horses.

    “Being told about Wolf Stride this morning seriously made my day,” Emilio said. “I like to find good homes for horses and I know Wolf Stride couldn’t be in better hands.

    “Re-homing is an integral part of the industry and stories like this, whether the horse was a star or a struggler, are what we need to spread.”

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    Michael Court

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