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Ken Casellas | Photo: Gloucester Park Harness Racing

Cancer is an insidious disease which claims approximately ten million lives a year. Yet it is a comparatively rare affliction among horses.

Star reinsman Ryan Warwick was glowing with admiration for Glenledi Chief after driving him to victory in the Hamilton Content Creators Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night as he revealed the gelding was laid low by cancer and was on death’s door 12 months ago.

“He was going good, but he was skinny and just couldn’t hold his weight,” said Warwick, the stable foreman for leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond.

“So, we sent him to the vet who discovered he had a cancer the size of a football in his groin. The cancer growth was cut out and the horse underwent radiation treatment. It was crazy and the recovery took a while because no one could go near him because of the radiation.

“I had never heard of a horse suffering from cancer, and now he has made a full recovery.”

Glenledi Chief, a New Zealand-bred five-year-old gelding by American sire Well Said, had won three times from 22 New Zealand starts before arriving in Western Australia in December 2020.

He won at his Australian debut, at Narrogin, and followed that with three wins from three starts at Pinjarra before finishing third behind Leap Of Faith in the 2902m Easter Cup at Gloucester Park.

It was then that it was discovered that he was suffering from cancer, and he was out of action for six months before he resumed with a first-up fourth behind stablemate Ideal Agent in a mobile event at Gloucester Park last October. Since then, he has raced eight times, all in stands, for five wins and three close second placings.

Glenledi Chief is a standing-start specialist, with 13 of his 14 WA appearances being in stands for nine wins and four seconds. In New Zealand his three wins were in mobiles, while he raced five times in stands for two thirds and three unplaced efforts.

On Friday night Glenledi Chief began off the 20m mark and was the $2.40 favourite. He was eighth after a lap while noted frontrunner Gee Smith ($7.50) was setting a solid pace. Warwick sent Glenledi Chief forward with a three-wide burst 850m from home and the gelding took the lead with 270m to travel and won by a half-length from the fast-finishing $51 outsider American Bullitt.

This was Glenledi Chief’s second run after a spell, and it followed his runaway victory, by almost five lengths eleven days earlier when he started off the back mark of 50m in a 2631m event at Pinjarra.

“I was surprised that he won by so far at Pinjarra because his work at home is never good,” said Warwick. “You always go into a prep wondering where you are at, but the longer the prep gets, the better he goes. Tonight, he felt comfortable all the way.”

Glenledi Chief has inherited some of the ability of his dam, the New Zealand-bred Its Forever Now, who earned $119,170 from seven wins and 18 placings from 41 starts, with her most notable victory being in the Gold Tiara final at Bathurst in April 2004.