Vowmaster: The power of patience

The Chris Waller-trained 5-year-old gelding Vowmaster (Written Tycoon) returned to the track on Saturday to record an electric first-up victory at Gosford in BM78 over 1000 metres. 

Despite being a 5-year-old, the son of Written Tycoon is lightly raced with only 10 starts to his CV, however, there have been moments of sheer brilliance in those.

Vowmaster first got tongues wagging with a dominant debut effort at Kyneton in November 2020, followed by an equally impressive display at Moonee Valley at start two. 

It has not been all plain sailing for Vowmaster, though; co-owned by Steve Grant of Grant Bloodstock and Silverdale Farm and shortly after finishing unplaced in April of 2021, issues were encountered pulling up with an injury to the suspensory ligament. 

Grant was keen to give Vowmaster the best chance at rehabilitation to return to the track; he suggested to other syndicate members that the horse be rehabilitated at his Silverdale Farm, with others in agreement and the blessing of master trainer Chris Waller.

Vowmaster as a yearling

Grant entrusted Silverdale Farm’s Manager, Rob Petith and Assistant Manager, Helen Boyes, with the next phase of the horse’s recovery. 

“Vowmaster had an injury to his suspensory ligament that required some time out.

“The initial vet report we received, a return-to-racing prognosis wasn’t given, It just outlined he needed at least four months. However, I know a few syndicate members were a bit nervous about his long-term prognosis, but Steve always wanted to give him a chance,” Petith told TDN AusNZ.

“Initially, he was spelled at Lauriston Park (Victoria) for the beginning of his break. He then returned to us at Silverdale.

“Vowmaster just started with some light treadmill work out of a paddock. It was a gradual slow process. 

“However, he was working on the treadmill one day, and we noticed a slight change in his gait; he wasn’t lame, but there was something there. We had the ligament undergo the ultrasound again. Some neovascularisation meant that the ligament still had not healed completely.

“So, it was back to step one, he went back to the paddock and then we reintroduced the treadmill and just that really steady, gradual work.

“Everything was going well with Vowmaster, so we did another ultrasound. The ligament looked good and clean. He then had another month with us head down on the grass and then he headed on to Wild Oaks.”

After 84 weeks off the track, Vowmaster returned to racing for a preparation of three runs. He was placed twice, including a brave third in the Magic Millions Snippets on the Gold Coast.

“Vowmaster returned to us after the Gold Coast for a little break.”

Vowmaster would then run first-up after 12 weeks at Gosford, and all the hard work by all involved would prove successful when the 5-year-old gelding won authoritatively as he had done in his first two starts.

Although Petith stresses they performed nothing ‘magical’ nor are they to take all the credit.

“We didn’t do anything ridiculous, it was just monitoring Vowmaster closely and bringing him on steadily. 

“Everything we do, even with our yearlings, is very gradual, making sure the horse handles the preparation. You never want to push a horse when they aren’t ready.

“Some pre-trainers would think these guys are insane because the process was painfully slow with Vowmaster: spelling, walking, treadmilling and gradually and slowly lifting incline over many weeks. We also used rollers on the walker to build that topline,” Petith said. 

“We were just fortunate Steve was keen for him to come here (Silverdale) and we gave him the time and attention back at the start. But we played a very small part in the process: Chris Waller’s team, the team at Wild Oaks. So, many people helped Vowmaster get back on track.

“So many amazing people, and they all deserve credit. It has been a satisfying process to watch and be part of. I hope the story continues.”

Vowmaster’s story, thus far, highlights that it takes plenty of patience and an army to get a racehorse to the racetrack, let alone one returning from a significant injury.

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