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Dream to nightmare: stylish bumper winner suffers injury after Kilbeggan victory

Finbar Hand (right) trains Mister Melia
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Trainer Finbar Hand was dealt a cruel blow at Kilbeggan on Saturday evening as exciting prospect Mister Melia was pulled up injured shortly after going clear to win the bumper in good style under Declan Lavery.

Mister Melia was the trainer's first winner for six years and was bought to be sold by Hand.

But the dream has turned into a nightmare with the five-year-old suffering a hairline fracture to his cannon bone – an injury which casts major doubt about his racing future after only two starts.

A full-time sheep farmer who was forced to call a halt to his training career for a number of years due to financial pressure, Hand is keeping everything crossed that Mister Melia can make a full recovery but promises the five-year-old a full retirement at his base in Navan if he does not.

The scene at Kilbeggan on Saturday evening

He explained on Monday: "Mister Melia is on the operating table at Troytown equine hospital as we speak. He suffered a hairline fracture of the cannon bone, unfortunately. 

"We could have got a few quid for him after his win and that would have kept me going for a year, so it's just unfortunate. Whatever happens, if he doesn't make it as a racehorse, he'll have a place in the field for the rest of his life."

Hand added: "Plenty of horses have come back from it, though, so we're hopeful. They just put a screw in it and you're looking at about nine months off. 

"It's not life-threatening but it's fifty-fifty if he'll ever race again. He's got a beautiful temperament so that'll help him in his recovery. He's not a silly horse."

Despite the setback, Hand remains focused on finding the next winner.

He said: "I'm a sheep farmer with a dream of training horses. I'm at it all my life and I still know nothing in the grand scheme of things. 

"I had about seven winners before I had to give it up due to financial reasons and this lad was my first winner since I took my licence back out. 

"We've only got about two or three horses in training and a few younger horses coming along as well."

He added: "I've stuck with it because I just love horses so much and I couldn't walk away from it. Hopefully we get a change of luck."

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I've stuck with it because I just love horses so much and I couldn't walk away from it
E.W. Terms