The ‘Journey’ Comes To An End For DJ

It week was a sad week for Realta Horse Racing Club as we learned that our mare Danielle’s Journey sustained a career-ending tendon injury to a foreleg. Danielle’s Journey was expected to run over the Christmas period and was in work ready for a run when she was discovered to be lame on the morning she was due to get an entry at Down Royal. On veterinary advice, the advice of our trainer and in the interests of the welfare of the animal the decision was made to retire DJ and look towards her becoming a broodmare.

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Danielle’s Journey was named after Danielle McGriskin, a then teenager who lives a short distance away from the racecourse, where the horse was eventually to gain her first win. Danielle was diagnosed with a brain tumor and hydrocephalus (water on the brain). In late 2013 Realta had taken on a horse who was yet to have a racing name and had followed the story of Danielle and her fundraising for The Brain Tumor Charity. After a phone call to Amanda and Danielle McGriskin it was decided to name our filly Danielle’s Journey, after the blog that Danielle was writing to chart her journey through her treatments. It was agreed that The Brain Tumor Charity – The Danielle McGriskin Fund would receive 5% of the filly’s winnings and Realta would help fundraise in some way through the horses’ career.

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After ten months in training DJ had her first entry at Down Royal on the 1st of November 2014. Danielle’s Journey was a short head 2nd first time out at Down Royal, 2nd second time out at Catterick and was a 4 lengths winner at Down Royal on St Partick’s Day (17th March) 2015. Her first three runs qualified Danielle’s Journey for the ITBA Fillies Premier Bumper at the Punchestown Festival where she finished a very credible 6th of 24 runners. In her first seven runs DJ was only to finish outside of the prize money once. DJ’s eighth was to come at Ayr Racecourse in Dawn Homes Mare’s Novice Hurdle.

Danielle’s Journey went off 11/8 favourite partnered by Andrew Lynch at Ayr. In atrocious weather conditions DJ was settled near the front running 2nd favourite and was asked to take the lead a few hurdles from the finish and duly obliged her favouritism with a runaway 17 lengths win. She then went to the Cheltenham Festival giving her owners a fantastic day out at the pinnacle of National Hunt racing. Further placings were picked up by the mare and her owners have enjoyed every step of the way with her.

2016 Cheltenham Festival, Prestbury Park, Cheltenham, England 17/3/2016 Danielle's Journey ridden by Brian Hughes during the Mares Novices Hurdle Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Realta Horse Racing would like to offer our sincerest thanks to Elizabeth (Hammie) Hamilton who bought the filly, then leased her to the Club. We also offer our thanks to the hard working team at Newlands Farm and to Crawford Bros Racing who put the time and effort into getting DJ race fit. We would also like to thank Danielle and the McGriskin family for allowing us to name the filly after the blog. A very special thank you to the owners of the filly who paid her way through training. This journey has come to an end however many more ‘journeys’ will continue as DJ has been happily retired to be a broodmare – Good luck girl! We wish you many winning foals and a long and happy retirement. You have been an absolute pleasure to have.