Surzeal comeback win brings tears of joy

Surzeal, ridden by Michael Heagney, won the Adrian Ledger Memorial race.

Surzeal, ridden by Michael Heagney, won the Adrian Ledger Memorial race.

OWNER and trainer were left in tears when Surzeal ($10) burst down the outside to win the Adrian Ledger Memorial yesterday.

Two years ago the bay gelding was on death’s door — a severe bout of pneumonia seen as terminal by the vets.

His owner too has survived an illness in the past 12 months that also had her on death’s door.

But yesterday the $300 yearling made good on his early promise coming from the tail of the field at the corner, to win running away from outsider Haiti ($21) and John Ledger trained Justiceforall ($4.60).

Wagga trainer Trevor Sutherland was in tears as was the horse’s owner Leona Watson.

Watson paid $300 for the horse at the sales to keep him from the knackery.

“I just didn’t want the dogman to get him,” she said.

“Then two years ago he got bad pneumonia and nearly died, they said he wouldn’t live let alone race again.”

Sutherland said the win was overdue and a testament to Watson’s faith.

“We probably should have won this race two years ago but the horse got so sick,” he said.

“He raced at Randwick in the middle of June and it was wet and cold and he came home and seemed OK, about a week later he came down with pneumonia — he had 23 litres of puss on one lung and 18 litres on the other.

“Leona spent a lot of money to get him right, imported a drug to clean his lungs out and then nursed him back to good health.

“To survive and get back to the races let alone win this is just incredible.”

The Gai Waterhouse trained Sesentum ($2 fav) set a solid pace in front with the Sutherland charge biding his time at the rear, at one stage it was in the back straight the best part of 20 lengths from the leaders.

“It worked out perfectly for him,” Sutherland said.

“He needs every bit of 2400 metres to show his best and the fact they got along in front suited him down to the ground.”