There were emotional scenes in the Avondale birdcage yesterday following the win of former Hong Kong galloper, Born Dragon.
Among the ownership group of the six-year-old is injury-stricken jockey Maija Vance who is in the Otara Spinal Unit as she begins the long road to recovery following a horror race fall at Rotorua that saw her suffer major damage to her spinal column.
Trained by Maija's parents Bob and Jenny Vance, Born Dragon was having his first start in New Zealand after winning three times from 20 starts in Hong Kong.
Expected to provide a forward showing, the Nicconi gelding sat handy to the pace throughout before forging clear in the home straight to set off some jubilant crowd reactions.
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"I knew he went fast as he's one of the fastest horses I ride," said Bob Vance after the race.
"He's a lovely horse with a big stride although he didn't settle well but he got away with it.
"Sprinting is his go so we will now find another nice race for him."
Vance had quipped before the race that if the horse didn't perform, his daughter may be looking for a new trainer as he provided an update on her current prognosis.
"She [Maija] is pretty banged up," he said.
"The broken ribs don't help as she is trying to rehabilitate. She has movement in her right leg but none in her left although she does have some sensation in her left leg. Her arms and hands are very good and from her waist up. It is going to be a long slow process but luckily the spinal cord wasn't severed, just damaged. It has been put in place so it can't get worse, it can only get better. She's handling it very well."
- NZ Racing Desk