By Duane Ranger
Gail Geeson has too much to live for to let bowel cancer get in the way of her blissful harness racing life near the beach at Sleepy Hollow.
The 48-year-old is fitter than most her age, yet was surprisingly diagnosed with cancer on February 10.
“The doctor thought I’d be the last one to contract the disease, and I would never have even thought I had it until I noticed some blood one day - I wasn’t even sick or feeling unwell,” Geeson said.
“I went to the doctor as a precaution and then I got the news I didn’t want to hear ‘how can you have this?’ he asked me.
“So my advice to anyone out there is if you suspect anything get a check-up, even if you do feel okay.
“If I can help just one person then this story is worth it.
“I am pleased I got this checked out early, but I have six months of chemotherapy ahead of me yet.
“I had my first fortnightly round of chemo last Monday and it knocked me around a bit and I have good days and bad days, but today (Monday) I feel okay.”
Last Thursday, Geeson and her Harness Racing Hall-Of-Fame husband Vic Frost, travelled the 340 kilometre round trip from their Sleepy Hollow home to Redcliffe Paceway.
“It was a great day at the track, but we didn’t get home until 8.30pm due to motorway congestion,” Geeson said.
“I was absolutely shot that night and the next couple of days after as well - I only started to come right on Sunday.
“We had a fairly successful day having three starters for a first, second, and a fourth - that’s why I love my life.
“Our breed can race on all tracks, whether it be Redcliffe, Albion Park, our horses abilities match all tracks.
“Some are even good enough to race interstate.”
The Vic Frost trained Fire And Ice (Just Elkins) and stablemate, Gizzmo (Paul Diebert) finished second and fourth respectively in races seven and five seven.
But it was the promising daughter of Hurrikane Kingcole filly, Sugarkane, who made the five-hour round trip worthwhile in race six.
The above average three-year-old and her driver Diebert justified their $3.20 favouritism by clearing out to win the Cammibest At Burwood stud Fillies and Mares Pace by an increasing 17 metres.
It was a huge performance considering Diebert eased her to near the rear from gate five soon after the start.
They were still last down the back straight the last time before Diebert let her go.
Sugarkane looped the field five wide and then simply left her nine opponents to it on the turn.
She paced the 2,040 metre mobile in 2:31.4 which equated to a 1:59.5 mile rate.
Her sectionals were: 30.1, 29.7, 30.6, and 30.3.
That was Sugarkane’s fifth win in 21 starts, to go with five placings, banking $29,254 in stakes and recording a 1:57.8 mile rate.
Sugarkane is trained, owned and was bred by Frost and Geeson.
“She’s the best one we’ve got at the moment,” Geeson said.
“She’s a real delight to have around the stable, Vic will aim her for the Group One QBRED 3YO Fillies Final at Albion Park in May.
“If she keeps developing we might look at other Group races for her on other tracks as well.
“Sugarkane is a horse worth waking up for, she has a bit of the X-factor about her.
“Like all our horses, we train, own and breed them all, so we are not answerable to no-one.
“We have the perfect life here and I’m not going to let horrible cancer ruin it - I’m fit and I will beat it.”
Paul Diebert was rapt knowing he had lifted Geeson’s spirits with the easy come-from-last win.
“Gail is a very hard-working lady and it is always good to win for her and Vic, especially now that she is unwell,” Diebert said.
“I’m glad it perked her up a little bit and I hope I can keep doing that.”
Sugarkane is a well-bred brown filly, the ninth daughter of 10 out of the five-win 1999 six-win Westburn Grant mare, Likeness.
“Everyone knows what Vic has achieved, especially through his champion, Westburn Grant,” Geeson said.
“I’ve trained nearly 100 winners and I never stop learning from him.
“He is a master trainer, and I'm not just saying that because we are a couple - everyone is aware of his talents.”
She said her husband could read a horse inside and out and never let it do what it wasn’t capable of.
“He knows what a horse take, and never asks them to do what they can’t,” Geeson said.
“He develops them at their own pace and that seems to bring the best out of them.
“Vic is especially good with young ones and we both realise that’s where the future and stake money is.
“We are having a ball with our team at the moment, I am living the dream.
“With the ups and downs of chemo we probably will restrict our travel up and down the M1, but it’s something we’ve done - sometimes three times a week - for years.
“We detected this cancer early and it won’t hold me back.
“I will beat it and on my good days I will continue to train horses.”
She said she was humbled by all the well-wishers and flowers that she had been sent.
“I can’t believe how wonderful people have been,” Geeson said.
“When word got out, the kind gestures just kept flowing.
“Flowers from both the Albion Park Harness Racing Club, and Kevin and Kay Seymour made me cry, as did the many other flowers.
“I have learnt so much about cancer in the last month or so, I was cheering on the girls wearing the Team Teal pants.
“I was proud of them, because I know so much more about the disease now.”
Frost and Geeson have two horses nominated for this Friday’s meeting at Albion Park, but she would not be going to Brisbane after receiving advice regarding the COVID-19 outbreak.
“With this form of cancer you don’t lose your hair, so at least that is a small consolation, it’s just the chemotherapy that can be real severe,” Geeson said.