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'Gilbert weathers the storm to tackle Group 1

By Duane Ranger

Any weanling that can survive a deadly disease, and then not long after, rebound from almost being drowned in the wake of Cyclone Debbie deserves his place in Saturday’s Group One event at Redcliffe Paceway.

Gold Coast trainer Shawn Grimsey said it was a miracle that Storm Gilbert was still alive.

After fighting back from the brink of death on three or four occasions, the Roll With Joe gelding will now line up from gate five in the $100,000 Garrard’s Redcliffe Yearling Sale Two-Year-Old Pace.

The 1780m mobile is the first Group One event of 2019 TAB Queensland Winter Harness Carnival.

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Nathan Dawson will drive Storm Gilbert.

Grimsey co-owns and bred the strong-willed bay with his wife, Michelle.

He said trainer (himself) and horse were only now just starting to get on, after a tumultuous relationship.

“He’s been through so much and shouldn’t be here. I love his fighting spirit and he’s finally developing into a nice pacer. He has been a stroppy buggar though. He took a while to learn how to pace,” he said.

“We have never really got on. We did not have much mutual respect for each other early on, but he’s warmed to me a bit more now – and vice versa.

“He does get on well with Michelle though. I blame the horse and she blames me. I’ve learnt to keep a bit more calmer with him these days.”

Storm Gilbert is the youngest of two foals out of the Grimseys’ seven-win Real Desire mare, Vitesse Heiress.

Abut eight weeks after being foaled at the Grimseys’ Littlehaven property in Tamborine (November 8, 2016), Storm Gilbert’s troubles started.

Firstly, he suffered from a case of the ‘rattles’.

“It took almost a month of treatment and on a couple of occasions he should have died, but instead he showed an amazing will to live,” Grimsey said.

“Then when the Queensland floods came through in March 2017 he was barely four months old and we put him in the driest paddock we had. As it got worse he became trapped and had to swim to survive. The water was so deep it was well over our walker.

“To survive that was quite amazing especially after what he had been through. We all thought he would have been a weak horse after all his medication, but he has displayed great resilience and a will to live.”

Fast forward just over two years and the 46-year-old horseman said he was just pleased to have his     horse fit and ready to line up in a big race, after earlier losing the services of another 2-year-old, the talented Xaviers Hurrikane

“He’d won two of his four starts and placed in two others before breaking down in April. That was more bad luck. He will come back a better 3-year-old,” Grimsey said.

Storm Gilbert has recorded a fifth, third, and fourth in three stars in May and June. Grimsey reckons he’s now developed enough to run a place.

“I can’t see the one outside us (Governor Jujon) getting beaten. He’s a very nice colt. That pacer aside, I don’t think there’s any other horse in the race with any more ability than my fella,” he said.

“Surprisingly he’s not a weak horse. I thought his immune system might have suffered a bit, but he’s bounced back well and is as strong as ever.

“He’ still leaning though and will also make a better 3-year-old. It’s just a great honour to have a horse that you own, bred and train start in a Group One race, so early in his career.”