Aldebaran Park’s remarkable day

Aldebaran Keepa (Stuart McCormick)

Michael Howard

A “stressful” flood ravaged day has ended in a stunning Group 1 success for Duncan McPherson’s Aldebaran Park, whose camp has endured incredible challenges and a significant high.

The breeding principal has shared the Nagambie farm’s harrowing morning on Saturday morning, when they were inundated by floodwaters that required their horses to be evacuated.

And McPherson has reflected on tonight’s extraordinary turn of fortunes, with the breeder’s three-year-old Aldebaran Keepa producing a stunning final sprint to capture the Group 1 Victoria Trotters Oaks.

“For her to measure up tonight was just outstanding,” McPherson told TrotsVision. “Very proud of everyone today and the continued work at the farm that Mel and Danny (Thackerey) do up there – to save the horses and then come tonight and win a Group 1 … you just don’t expect these things in life.”

McPherson said they thought the farm was “all right last night”, but at 4am “there was a bit of a murmur, and then they were swimming horses out at eight o’clock” this morning.

“It’s not the nicest thing to do, you’re walking breast deep in water trying to get horses out of paddocks,” he said. “You’ve got fences half under water, it’s very difficult to herd and get them, but we managed to get all ours out.”

It was achieved with a few setbacks but great effort and support.

“The first thing we did was get the horses out of the deep paddock, which were four and five foot deep, and get them up on to the highest ground we could,” McPherson said.

“And by the time we got them up on to the higher ground the water just kept coming, so it didn’t matter which paddock we put them in.

“And then the cavalry arrived about one o’clock. It wasn’t only us, people were helping the Weidenbachs, people were helping the Flemings, we were all in each other’s properties helping each other.

“I can’t thank people enough. I’ve never met these people and the time they gave us and the way they did things was just absolutely outstanding. We couldn’t have done it on our own.

“Most importantly they’re all standing on dry ground tonight. Just a wonderful effort from everyone in the district but also the team at Aldebaran Park.”

To then cap the most challenging of days off with an extraordinary win was all the more stunning.

Chris Alford took the reins of Aldebaran Keepa for New Zealand co-trainers Bernie Hackett and Michelle Wallis, but not all went to plan in the race and with a quarter to run their filly was buried on the pegs and seemingly with no path home.

“Things went really to plan,” Alford joked on TrotsVision, “I really wanted to be four back the pegs at the 400 with no where to go, but she got clear just before we straightened and I thought she may get out and run a place.

“To give them four lengths turning in and to win by two running away was pretty special. Tonight she settled really well and I was pretty amazed at how good she was.”

And Alford was hopeful it would bring some much deserved satisfaction to the Aldebaran Park team.

“They’re all having a tough time up there,” he said. “The farm’s flooded and they had to move 65 horses today, so a little bit of a happy moment on a bad day.”