Ugly duckling comes through
WHEN Phillip Minter brought a weedy yearling home to the Coffs Harbour stables, his wife thought it the ugliest horse she'd ever seen.
"It had all sorts of problems," she said.
"I had to wonder how we'd ever win races with this thing."
Looks can be deceiving.
Now racing as Famous Dane, the one time equine Cinderella was named last Sunday, the NRRA 'Horse of the Year.'
"He's got terrible breathing and problems with his mouth," Minter said.
So bad in fact, the former battling jockey turned trainer says his stable name is 'Hoover.'
With a season return of around $200,000 in prizemoney, Famous Dane performed in top company to win two races in the just completed racing year.
His best result was a win in the 2400m (Listed Race) Services Memorial Cup on the Kensington grass at Randwick.
At one stage, Minter even considered taking the horse across Bass Strait for a tilt at the Launceston Cup.
"It's a race I want to win," he said.
"Our plans went astray this time but that race is still in the back of my mind."
Famous Dane had stiff competition for 'Horse of the Year' honours.
Also in the running were the ageless Sir Dan, Coffs Harbour Gold Cup winner Concitaire, multiple cups and metropolitan winner Arena Valedora and the Ken Lantry trained rising star, Legendary Man.
"This is a wonderful thrill," the Minter's said.
"The horse still has a great deal of improvement in him and could win a very big race for us.