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Donegal Gerald Retired

Published: November 29, 2015 12:52 pm ET

Last Comment: November 30, 2015 10:30 pm ET | 2 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Trot Insider has learned that popular Ontario-based campaigner Donegal Gerald has been officially retired at the age of 11.

The son of Rambaran - Shes A Flyin was developed by Mac & Jeff Lilley before being privately purchased by John Foran of Newmarket, Ont. He turned the horse over to trainer Dave Matson.

"We had a couple of horses with Lilleys before [Gerald]," Matson told Trot Insider. "Jeff let us know that this horse is for sale so we went down and had a look at him and sat behind him....He turned out much better than we thought."

Matson, who was introduced to harness racing by his grandfather Gord Cooper, got into training Standardbreds and started out working for the likes of Gary Crowe and Ian MacIntosh before going on his own. Now managing a five-horse stable, Matson gave Donegal Gerald full marks for heart and determination over the course of his racing career.

"He was a big hearted horse, very sound up until recently, noted Matson. "I just tried to manage him right and keep him racing. I didn't race him a whole lot at WEG; he probably could have made a little more money but the money was good at the smaller tracks then."

Of Donegal Gerald's 39 lifetime wins, only two came on the WEG circuit but that by no means indicates a lack of ability. In his best season at age five, the pacer was a mainstay in the Preferred classes across the province, including at Mohawk and Woodbine. That season he took his lifetime mark of 1:51.1f at Georgian Downs.

"He had one speed, he'd put his head down and grind away."

And grind away he did, racing 227 times with eight straight seasons of more than 20 starts before this most recent one (17 starts) was cut short in September. Donegal Gerald retires with more than $416,000 in earnings.

Looking back over his starts, two races from that solid five-year-old season come to mind when Matson recalls his fondest Donegal Gerald efforts: his lifetime best mile at Georgian, and his Preferred win at Grand River on Industry Day in 2009.

"The night he set his record at Georgian was a pretty good race. The race at Industry Day a few years ago where he looked like he was all done around the last turn and he just dug back in and won, that was a good one."

Primarily guided by Anthony Haughan and Tony Kerwood, Donegal Gerald was a pleasure to sit behind according to his trainer.

"Everybody that's driven him likes him; he gives you an honest effort...which is all you can ask."

By far considered by Matson as the best horse he's even trained, plans are for Donegal Gerald to live out his retirement days at Matson's Alliston-area farm with another retired campaigner from Matson's stable.

"I've got another old trotter, Jazzman Hall, they've gone out together for about four years so they've got a spot here. They spend all their time together."

Matson feels there is still some racing in Donegal Gerald but he's against dropping the horse in for a claiming price at anything less than best. So after nine seasons of racing, with Foran and Matson having a lot of fun and enjoying some celebratory beverages, they salute Donegal Gerald with one last toast.

November 30, 2015 - 10:30 pmGreat to hear that the Horse

Great to hear that the Horse comes first. All the Best to Donegal Gerald in his retirement

November 30, 2015 - 7:33 amCredit to all those

Credit to all those associated with the horse. The decency and integrity in the fostering and caring and nurturing life for the horses in their care should be published and promoted in the "Harness Racing Game"!!


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