From ICU to podium finish

HARARE - The OK GRAND Challenge main race winner Ginepri’s recent feat is not only special because it carried a $24 000 cash prize.

But it carried a sentimental victory for the horse’s trainer Sebastian D’Aquino, who almost lost his life barely two months ago.

D’Aquino sustained life threatening injuries after he was trampled by an agitated horse in the starting stalls before a race at Borrowdale Race Park.

D’Aquino spent close to five days on a life support machine in the Intensive Care Unit after sustaining multiple facial injuries inflicted by the horse.

“I was at the starting stalls with a problem horse,” D'Aquino told the Daily News after Ginepri finished first a length and a half ahead of second placed Madigan in an intriguing race on Saturday.

“The horse kicked me in the face,” the former Zimbabwe rugby team player added whilst exposing his upper jaw where the injury also claimed several of his molar teeth.

“My jaw was broken into places, both my chick bones where fractured, my palate was shattered, I had to be sealed shut for some time.

“Tell you the truth I never thought I would get out of there in one piece.”

He added: “It’s a miracle. And then to came from that and win the OK Grand Challenge. It’s something special.”

Ridden by Francois Herholdt, Ginepri snatched the title after outpacing the 17-horse field race en route to clinching the 1, 800 metre feature race.

“Ginepri is a good horse with a big heart,” D’Aquino said. “It’s a race I have always wanted to win since I was a kid.”

Ginepri came into the race at 5/1 odds, but did well to upset pre-race favourites Super Trouper and Approval Rating who both had odds of 9/2 but could only manage positions fifth and 11th respectively.

Last month, Ginepri also put in a good performance coming second in the Castle Tankard that was won by A King Is Born.

That second place finish meant that the 53kg Ginepri went into Saturday’s race with an extra kilogram.

A King Is Born had to put in a extra five kilograms and it meant achieving the double from the South African horse was always going to be difficult.

Subsequently the Castle Tankard winner ended up finishing in third almost two lengths behind Ginepri.


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