Connections of Kings Will Dream (IRE) after winning the TAB Turnbull Stakes at Flemington Racecourse on October 05, 2019 in Flemington, Australia. (Reg Ryan/Racing Photos)
Less than a year after he suffered a serious injury in the Ladbrokes Cox Plate, Kings Will Dream completed a stunning comeback for his ecstatic connections with a fairy-tale win in the Group 1 TAB Turnbull Stakes.
Last year’s Cox Plate will be remembered as Winx’s crowning glory, as she became the first horse in history to claim four editions of Australia’s weight-for-age championship; but in complete contrast, for prominent owner Brae Sokolski it was “one of the worst days of my life” as Kings Will Dream’s fate hung in the balance.
Diagnosed with a fractured pelvis, the then five-year-old’s prospects of survival – let alone a return to the racetrack – appeared remote but the 20-strong ownership group were determined to do whatever was necessary to give their stricken galloper the best possible chance of pulling through.
Successful surgery brought overwhelming relief, but not in their wildest dreams could Sokolski and Co. have imagined that Kings Will Dream would return to his former glories.
However, nursed expertly through his rehabilitation by the Chris Waller stable, Kings Will Dream made his return to competitive action almost ten months to the day after his aborted run in the Cox Plate.
Appropriately enough, it was in the race named in honour of the queen of the Cox Plate, the Winx Stakes. A fast-finishing fifth was a pleasing enough return, and whilst eighth place in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes marked the worst finish of his hitherto glittering career, the chestnut son of Casamento rebounded in spectacular fashion to beat a first-class field – including star Tasmanian mare Mystic Journey – at Flemington last Saturday.
Unable to keep his emotions in check, Sokolski labelled it “the most emotional win I’ve ever had”.
“He was literally on his death bed,” he added.
“I had a call from the vet three days after the Cox Plate asking me what we wanted to do. We were told he was unlikely to ever race again, and I just said, “Whatever happens, save the horse”. To come from that point to here, that emotional journey, it’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced.
“He’s the toughest horse I’ve ever had anything to do with. The character of the horse, everyone who meets him falls in love with him.
“It’s just surreal. He has to take his place in the Cox Plate now. He deserves his chance. And win, lose or draw, the horse owes us nothing.”
If Kings Will Dream can beat the odds again and make his return to The Valley a winning one on 26 October, it would write another truly remarkable chapter in the rich 99-year history of the Cox Plate.