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The crippled colt now a rising star

3 min read
When emerging star Danawi (Exceed and Excel {Aus}) steps out in Saturday's G2 The Daily Telegraph Stan Fox S. at Rosehill, farrier James Balfe will be more than just an interested on-looker.

There are many contributors in Danawi's development into a potential champion three-year-old, including Milburn Creek, where he was born and raised, and of course his trainer Tim Martin. But it is doubtful the colt would ever have made the track if not for the intervention of farrier James Balfe nearly three years ago.

When he arrived at Balfe's property as a six-week old foal, Danawi, out of G1 winning mare Secret Admirer, was unable to stand properly and urgently required treatment.

"As a farrier, he was what we call, down on his bumpers. He was very lax behind. He arrived at my place and I made up the shoes for him. It was a last stop for him or he wouldn't be here today," Balfe told TDN AusNZ.

"I devised up some shoes and we got him standing up again. Over a period of time, he was able to stand up on his hind legs by himself, and the rest is history."

"We knew we could get him right, we just had to give him time," James Balfe on Danawi.

Danawi is out of Secret Admirer, pictured here winning the Group 1 Flight Stakes in 2010

The severity of Danawi's condition is something Balfe says would occur maybe once in every 300 foals he sees a year in the Hunter Valley.

"It’s a common condition to have them lax behind, but the severity of it in Danawi's case, he was walking on his fetlocks. A lot of times, they don’t survive, but thankfully the owners of Danawi had the patience."

"We knew we could get him right, we just had to give him time," he said.

Balfe worked with the colt for around a month, heartened by the attitude Danawi had to resolving his own issues.

The early patience shown to Danawi was worth the effort as he won the Group 3 Ming Dynasty Stakes

"He was a great patient and he knew that I was helping him, and he helped me, help him," he said. "He didn't lie down, he wanted to get up and get walking, and that was a great help."

It's that attitude that gave Balfe every faith that the colt would thrive once he got strong enough to overcome his early setbacks.

"I have to admit that every time he goes around, I get goosebumps knowing what he went through."

Less than 18 months' later, he sold for $400,000 at the Easter Yearling Sales. Now, as an early 3-year-old, Danawi is a Group winner at just his fourth start, with Martin describing him as comparable to his sire, Exceed and Excel, who was a two-time Group 1 winner.

Danawi was a $400,000 Easter purchase

"He was a gorgeous foal. I'm not surprised that he made such a good horse. Once he started to come along and he looked good behind, he was a strong foal and by the right stallion," Balfe said.

For Balfe, it marks one of the achievements he is most proud of through his career as a farrier, especially as Danawi begins to build his career on the track.

"It just makes it worthwhile that the owners would give you the time and the patience and the trust to get them right," he said.

"I have to admit that every time he goes around, I get goosebumps knowing what he went through. I'm proud of him. I'm proud of the horse to see what he's doing and what he has been through."