Twin tragedies suffered by Danny Williams' stable in recent weeks will have a "huge impact" on his stable, the local horse trainer said.
In the lead-up to the $1.3 million race at The Kosciuszko on October 19, the prominent Goulburn local had two slots pencilled in.
One was for the six-year-old gelding, Don't Give A Damn, and a second in which Williams would have chosen between Floki, She Knows, and Highway Sixtysix.
But in the last three weeks, Floki passed away from a viral infection while Williams was forced to retire She Knows due to an injury she suffered at Caulfield soon after, meaning that he lost the extra slot.
The losses have taken an emotional toll on Williams and the members of his stable, who were very close to both horses.
"It's been nearly 16 months now we've had a fair bit of bad luck and things haven't been going well, and that was the climax of it," Williams said.
"Very unfortunate when you have two very good horses, one like Floki who was pretty assured of getting a run, succumbing to a stomach infection. It hit us pretty hard because, as they all are, he was pretty likeable.
"It wasn't a hard decision [to retire She Knows] because she injured herself at Caulfield and she was also accepted in Kosciuszko. We had high expectations of her, and she was a quality filly. Those kinds of horses are hard to come by."
While Floki was relatively new to the Williams stable, She Knows had been a staple for more than four years, and her immense success had earned more than $450,000 in winnings over that time.
"She has kept us financially going in our business, so it's a big loss," Williams said.
"It's like losing your main client so to speak.
"There's only a small percentage of people that make money out of training. There's a lot of people employed in it, but training racehorses isn't quite as glorious as one may think."
If there is a silver lining for Williams among his recent bad fortune, it is that his star gelding, Don't Give A Damn, is "in a good place".
"Everything's just gone like clockwork for him," Williams said.
"It's exciting for us to have a runner in the Kosciuszko. It's perhaps one of Australia's biggest race days, we're now comparing it with the likes of the Melbourne Cup."
Over the course of his 18-race career, Don't Give A Damn has seven wins and three second-place finishes, which have netted a total of nearly $600,000.
Since February, the six-year-old has been in middling form and run six times for two places. However, his most recent race at Goulburn on October 8 resulted in a win.
His return to form comes just at the right time for Williams, who is hoping to use a positive result from Kosciuszko as a diving board for another run at the Country Championships.
"As horse trainers, we tend to look well ahead of ourselves," Williams said. "Our next goal will be to have horses at Country Championships."
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