Group 1 winner Hot Snitzel was retired from racing in early 2016 after injuring a suspensory ligament. The son of Snitzel and Flames of Paris was bred in 2008 by the Arrowfield & Jungle Pocket partnership, raised at Arrowfield Stud and sent in the farm’s draft to the 2010 Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale.
There he was purchased for $60,000 by Chris & Michael Ward’s Triple Crown Syndications, which organised and managed the large group of people who raced him. After five years, 38 starts and eight wins (7 in Group & Listed stakes company), amassing earnings of $1,334,850, ‘Snitty’ is now enjoying his retirement with two of his owners, Steve and Debbie Graham.
Steve and Debbie first crossed paths with Hot Snitzel when they purchased a share in him through Triple Crown. Impressed by his Snitzel breeding and the success rate of Triple Crown, Steve and Debbie embarked on an unimaginable success story. When asked about her first impression of Hot Snitzel, Debbie was surprised at how small he was. “When I saw him on race day I questioned if he was actually a pony mate to one of the other racehorses there on the day! I felt like I was sending out my young child to run with the big kids – but he proved he was up for the challenge!”
Hot Snitzel provided so much joy for Debbie and Steve during his time racing, particularly when they could bring their two-year-old granddaughter Lily to the races to watch him run. Lily would enthusiastically support the horse and cheer ‘Go Snitty’ as he flew past.
The brave son of Snitzel never gave up and always ran an honest race. Nicknamed ‘War Horse’ by many owners, Hot Snitzel demonstrated a true love for racing and for being out on the track. His talent and competitive zest were finally rewarded with a Group 1 win on 9th May 2015, when Hot Snitzel easily won the BTC Cup at Doomben despite being at odds of 24-1.
The most memorable race day for the Grahams was on 26th April 2014, when he won the Group 3 Hall Mark Stakes at Randwick. Debbie recalls, “I always look at our horses in the raceday stalls before a race. With Hot Snitzel I had developed a pattern of looking for him to wink at me. On this day he not only winked at me, but also sneezed all over me, splattering my face with his saliva. I took this as a sure sign!
“It also happened to be his strapper Harry’s last day working with Gerald Ryan so he was confident Hot Snitzel would win for him – and win he did, by one-and-a-quarter lengths! I proudly made the long walk back in leading Hot Snitzel with Harry, trying very hard in six-inch heels to keep up.”
Hot Snitzel demonstrated a kind and quiet temperament during his racing career and was labelled a gentleman by all stable staff, who cried upon hearing of his retirement. He impacted the lives not only of those who worked with him, but he also inspired in Debbie and Steve a love for a horse that they couldn’t imagine “would ever be so strong.” Their success with Hot Snitzel has given the Grahams a much deeper understanding of the thoroughbred industry, as well as warm friendships with his other owners.
On raceday Debbie would often look adoringly at Hot Snitzel and turn to Chris and Michael Ward from Triple Crown to ask “Can I please have him?!” So, when the time came to retire him, Michael rang Debbie to see if she would seriously like to take care of Hot Snitzel in his retirement.
Two weeks later a Goldners truck arrived carrying their special boy and Debbie asked the truck driver to please walk him down to the gate. He wasn’t too impressed, replying “I’m just the truck driver, lady”, but much to Debbie’s relief, he did!
The first few weeks were a steep learning curve for the Grahams, but they had plenty of help and advice from the friendly staff at Muskoka Farm where Hot Snitzel was often spelled. Reflecting on this time Debbie realises that it didn’t take long for them to feel comfortable with him, “He is just like a big dog, so lovable and kind.”
Pictured: In his old life, Hot Snitzel celebrated in the Group winner’s circle – now he celebrates Christmas with Steve & Debbie Graham’s grand-children!
Adored by his family, Snitty now acts as Debbie’s training partner on her morning runs, racing her across the paddock.
When not racing people, or rolling in the sun, Snitty loves seeking out the attention of Debbie and Steve’s grandchildren who affectionately cuddle and play with him. If Hot Snitzel was a human, his owners think he would be George Clooney – handsome, laid-back, successful, popular and loved by everyone.
While the process of re-homing an ex-racehorse was a challenge, Debbie and Steve took it in their stride, and provide Snitty with an amazing home surrounded by love. “We have learned so much about horse ownership, from food and grooming, to washing him. I couldn’t imagine our lives without him now.”