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Prince Sharka Returns

Published: August 24, 2017 11:28 am ET

Last Comment: August 26, 2017 12:33 am ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

A heartwarming story was unveiled Monday afternoon at Century Downs. Eight-year-old Prince Sharka, who was badly injured in a racing accident at Northlands Park last December, has made it back to the races.

“We weren’t sure he’d ever make it back to the races,” said trainer-driver Nathan Sobey. “Heck, we weren’t even sure he’d survive that night.”

Sobey was at the controls when Prince Sharka got caught up in a racing accident last December. Miraculously, no horses were lost in the accident but Prince Sharka was the most seriously hurt. He had severe blood loss as the result of several contusions and the first two veterinarians on the scene told Sobey the horse probably should be put down so that it did not suffer. Then, Dr. Jordan Cook came on the scene. She had worked with Prince Sharka all season and said she would try to do what she could to save him.

Click here for the before and after of Prince Sharka's emergency surgery (Warning: Graphic content)

“I was having dinner in the clubhouse and watching the races when the incident occurred,” said Cook. “I never go anywhere without my medical bag. I ran down to my truck to get it and went to the backstretch. I was at his stall when they brought him from the track. I could see he was badly cut but he was standing and his eyes were clear.”

For the next five hours, Cook, with help from a number of backstretchers, sewed up the wounds and stabilized the horse. Prince Sharka spent six weeks standing crosstied in a stall at Northlands and wearing bandages. Early in February he was moved south to Calgary where Sobey was preparing his other horses for the start of the meet at Century Downs.

“We walked him a lot and got him back into a cart for some light jogging,” Sobey recalled, “We got him up to five miles a day and he seemed to handle it fine. We got clearance from the medical folks so we moved him up to Olds College where he bred six mares, five of which are in foal. Then we brought him back to Century Downs and gradually increased his training. He qualified last week in 1:55.2 and went the first half mile in :57 and change. I was going to put him into another qualifier but he handled this one so well and everybody else in the barn said let’s put him into a race and see how he handles that.

“I’m anxious to see how he does, but he’s come so far since last winter. He’s brave, he’s tough and he knows how to race. It’s just a matter now of seeing if we can get him back into racing shape.”

Sobey was exactly right on that point. Prince Sharka finished seventh in the eighth race on Monday with Mike Hennessy at the controls. The time was 1:54.4, which was awfully good for a horse in its first race in nine months. While there wasn’t to be a winner’s circle picture on this day, most assuredly the odd photo was taken in the backstretch. And maybe a tear or two from the people closest to him, who wondered if he would ever race again.

(with files from HRA)

August 26, 2017 - 12:33 amI am so glad to hear that

I am so glad to hear that Prīnce Sharka is doing much better. It was such a tragic event that happened but with the overwhelming support he has been able to race again. Congrats to all who made it possible.

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