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Achillies shows warrior-like strength to bounce back and record debut victory

By Duane Ranger

The Graham Dwyer trained and driven, Archilles, has no right being alive, let alone winning his 2yo debut at Redcliffe last Wednesday night by a whopping 55.3 metres.

The little juvenile, who has an amazing will to live, fell seriously ill just prior to Christmas. But the nuggety son of Shadow Play tenaciously fought his way back to life.

When Achillies presented at the West Vets Equine Hospital in Anstead, he was in a bad way. He was operated on by Dr Nathan Anthony who was able to save the youngster's life. 



Dr Anthony was in New Zealand when Racing Queensland contacted the clinic but Dr Harry Markwell did comment, saying the operation was not uncommon. 

Dr Markwell said the pacer nicknamed ‘Archie’ was presented at the clinic with acute to severe colic.

“We probably come across this two or three times a year, and depending on where the solid mass is situated depends on the survival rate,” he said.

“The only option was surgery. When we opened him up we found a lot of foreign material, which can be cloth, plastic, fibre or material all matted together with what he had been digesting.

“Nathan removed the solid mass, and, in ‘Archie’s’ case, there was about an 60 to 80 per cent chance of survival, simply because of where it was located.

“This type of thing has become more prevalent in the last couple of years or so. We are just so pleased for the horses and his connections. Stories like this make our job very worthwhile,” Dr Markwell said.

Dwyer, who operates out of Kingslodge Pacing Stables at Greenbank, said it all started about six months ago when ‘Archie’ suffered from a bout of colic.

“He stopped eating and was always lying down. We rushed him to West Vets and he had surgery. A huge carpet like growth (pictured) was taken from his colon," Dwyer said.

“It had travelled through his gut, and onto the small intestine, before getting stuck in the colon area. What a fighter!

“He was so determined to live. So resilient, and that strong will to survive has come out on race-day. He has shown us a strong will to win as well.


The growth removed from 'Archie' by the surgeons at West Vets Equine Hospital. 

“We are all so proud to have this little fella at the races because everyone was shocked when they saw what he endured. I personally wish all the connections the very best of luck.

“I can’t thank the veterinary team enough."

‘Archie’ was bred by Des Bolster and 60 per cent of the bay is owned by Lola Weidemann, with other shares belonging to Dwyer, Chad Hedges, and Clayton & Bree Evans.

“It’s been a real team effort to get this horse back to where he is. I’m really pleased for Bree, who works for us. The owners paid $13,000 for him and I’m just so pleased they’ve finally got a nice racehorse,” Dwyer said.

Archilles was a Redcliffe Yearling Sales purchase last year and is now being targeted for the Group One $100,000 Redcliffe Sales 2yo Final next month.

Dwyer thought Archilles might be too strong for last Wednesday’s QBRED 2yo field. The public thought likewise, closing him off a hot $1.50 favourite.

“He found the right race to compete in first-up. He had three months off before he won four of his five trials before that in February, March and April. That was astonishing in itself considering what he went through late last year," Dwyer said.

“The ace draw suited him and I thought he would have the speed to hold them out. Breakers in a five-horse field also assisted."

The duo led from the outset and then in the home straight they cleared out to win by almost 56 metres. Gadot and David Millard were second, with 60.6m back to third, 63.6m to fourth, and 150.2m to fifth.

Dwyer said he also had a bit left in the tank.

Archilles paced the 1,780m mobile in 2:14.3 (mile rate 2:01.4) and his sectionals were 30.4, 32.1, 30, and 30.3.

“He’s got a great work ethic. He’s a lovely pacer, even though he still does have a little hitch in his gait. His attitude will take him a long way. We all know he’s a fighter," he said.

“In saying that I think he will still make a better 3-year-old. Once we get that little glitch out of his gait, he should develop into a nice a horse. It’s just a maturity thing,” Dwyer said.

“His natural speed will take him a long way. He’s a well put together little fella. He reminds me of his older half-brother, Pub Blitz. They have the same head,” he added.

That’s some compliment because Pub Blitz, a 2005 Cammibest – Moonlight Gleam (by Fortitude Hanover) gelding, won 25 races and $362,963 in purses. He also paced a 1:52.9 mile.