What is it that is said about time?
Published 10 November 2022
That’s right – “time is a great healer”.
Rockhampton’s Callaghan Park racehorse trainer Craig Russell can certainly attest to that.
Currently, Craig is having the time of his life having won three races with just the two horses under his care in the space of two weeks.
Rewind the clock 12 months however and it was the reverse scenario.
Craig was enduring the worst time of his life after undergoing a series of complex surgeries in Brisbane from a form of cancer that resulted in the loss of his right ear.
It was a trying period for Craig, wife Theressa and his three children as well as his parents Gordon “Rusty” and Colleen.
Craig’s future certainly looked uncertain.
The CQ racing industry swung into an assistance mode, both financially and supportively.
“I am very grateful and appreciative for what everyone did for us. The original surgery which resulted from a sun cancer took 15 hours. The ear was removed and a skin graft put in place. I also had to have six weeks of radiation in Brisbane”, Craig said.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Craig then had to undergo four more operations for the removal of kidney stones which were discovered.
“The doctors were amazed as the biggest kidney stone was the size of a golf ball. All up I had six operations down there so what do they say, it never rains but it pours”, Craig said.
Now 12 months down the track there has been a pot of gold so to speak under the rainbow that has shone on Craig.
It has come along in the form of an aristocratically bred thoroughbred named Way Back Then (b g 6 Redoute’s Choice-Once Were Wild) raced by Craig’s greatest racing fan, his father Rusty.
Way Back Then (WBT) won for the father and son combination at Mackay on October 21 and then repeated the dose again at Callaghan Park just last Friday.
The former Chris Waller trained blueblood disgraced his family for the leading stable in Sydney.
So much so after a last of 13 at Newcastle, Way Back Then was banished and purchased from an online sale by Rusty Russell.
“Dad and I liked his breeding being by a champion and from a GR 1 winning mare Once Were Wild that won an AJC Oaks. Dad thought let’s give him a go and bought him”, Craig said.
WBT won for the Russell’s at Callaghan Park in Maiden company last July not long after they acquired him and just before Craig’s cancer was diagnosed.
So, when Craig had to close-up shop, WBT did likewise enjoying the spoils of a long-enforced spell.
Time comes into the equation once more as the long-time out spelling worked wonders for WBT, with he and Craig now enjoying new leases of life.
Just three days before WBT’s most recent win, lone behold his younger stablemate Round The Fire bolted home a winner at the Melbourne Cup Day races at Gladstone.
So, for Craig Russell a 100% winning record with his two horses, it doesn’t get much better than that.
Of course it does, as Craig pretty much has a clean bill of health now while in about six months’ time, he will have a prosthetic ear fitted.
In the meantime, it’s all systems go for Way Back Then, Round The Fire and their feisty trainer Craig Russell who certainly isn’t marking time.
Photo: Enjoying new leases of life, Way Back Then and Craig Russell. Pic: Tony McMahon.