Sea King bounces back from bizarre incident that could have claimed his life to win again

Sea King has returned to form with a well deserved Awapuni Hurdles victory at Trentham.
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Sea King has returned to form with a well deserved Awapuni Hurdles victory at Trentham.

The King is back in the building.

Less than 12-months ago, Sea King could have easily lost his life but thanks to Saturday's $50,000 Awapuni Hurdles victory the popular jumper - with a will to win that is bigger than Texas - is back in the winner's circle.

Sea King's 15th win of his jumping career was not his biggest scalp but it will go down as the most satisfying.

His proud owner Rachael Frost summed Sea King up in five simple words: "He's a pretty special animal."

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The champion jumper was fighting for his career following a freak accident, that he was lucky to survive, in the early stages of the Crisp Steeplechase at Sandown back in August last year.

A horse racing in front of him clipped a section of the running rail which caused a portion of the sharp plastic rail to catapult into the Kiwi jumper's chest.

The impact dislodged his jockey Steven Pateman and caused a nasty gash in his chest - bigger than the size of an average human fist. Despite the wound, the lionhearted jumper completed the majority of the 3900m journey.

It could have been worse but the incident, that was no fault of his own, was a costly one for his ownership team of Frost, Chris O'Reilly and Sue Harty. The latter bred the 10-year-old son of Shinko King.

Racing in the form of his life, Sea King was a hot favourite for the Crisp following his victories in the Mosstrooper and Thackeray Steeplechases.

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Frost said the once gaping hole is now just a small scar and a flap of skin.

Sea King returned to New Zealand and following a long recovery, came back from the horrific incident with three flat runs before finishing sixth of seven in an open hurdle at Hastings back on May 11. He was pulled up in the final stages of the Prestige Waikato Hurdles but looked much more like his old self when finishing third in an open hurdle at Trentham a week before his Awapuni Hurdles victory.

"It's very satisfying. Not only for what happened last year but also when he was not going any good earlier this season.

"We thought we were looking at retirement," Frost said.

Sea King's winning effort was made even more impressive when the 70kg he carried was factored into the equation but he was also helped when race leader Shamal made a mistake at the fourth to last fence with 600 metres to run. His jockey Charlie Price was dislodged on landing and the riderless Shamal inconvenienced Justa Charlie and Thatz David for a time in the straight.

Shamal was travelling strongly but whether he could have held out Sea King will never be known.

Jockey Shaun Fannin deflected all the credit to trainer Kevin Myers for Sea King being back to his best.

Sea King might not have a reputation for being the most professional of race horses but he got it all right at Trentham on Saturday.

Frost said there have been no discussions on the next step as yet but she was encouraged by the way Sea King, who she trained during his flat career, finished off the final stages of the 3000-metre journey.

"He's such a genuine stayer."

Grand National Steeplechase winner Upper Cut finished off strong to take second place, three lengths behind Sea King, with Justa Charlie, a further two and a half lengths behind, in third.

 - Stuff

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