Famed English writer JRR Tolkein once penned: “It is not the strength of the body that counts, but the strength of the spirit.”
And it’s that sort of courage which typifies the Paul Abela-trained Modern Icon.
“Tyson” – as he’s affectionately known – looked headed for racetrack stardom after winning successive races at Sandown (29.39sec) and The Meadows (29.99sec) in January this year.
But fate dealt a cruel hand shortly after when he suffered a serious hock injury at Sandown.
Owned by the Staying Icon syndicate, comprising Fab Mastropasqua and Paul Baker, Modern Icon was transferred to the Wunghnu property of Baker’s brother, Dean, to recover.
But around 20 minutes after being fed one day, Dean’s daughter Abbey, 22, noticed “Tyson” prostrate on the ground. He was immediately rushed to a local vet, where life-saving surgery was performed on a twisted bowel. Modern Icon’s heart stopped beating on the operating table, but fortunately he was revived. Sadly, his spleen required removal during the procedure.
The tough-as-teak Modern Icon returned to Abela’s kennel in June and in early August he won a satisfactory trial at Shepparton in 22.10sec.
He then officially resumed racing with a sixth at Shepparton, followed by a 23.76sec win at Horsham and a second at Healesville last Sunday.
WATCH: Modern Icon (1) scores a spirited win at Horsham on August 23.
Modern Icon (Dec ’17 Mogambo x Monaco Icon) has now raced on 24 occasions for six wins, six seconds and one third.
“He’s got the biggest heart you’ve ever seen – it’s as big as Phar Lap’s,” Abela said. “The only reasons I gave him another go was my friendship with the owners, who paid a fair sum for him, and because he’s such a beautifully natured dog.
“But I honestly don’t think he’ll ever return to his absolute best… Anyway, we don’t want the dog to be hurt. As soon as he shows he’s had enough, we’ll pull the pin. But for now, he’s thriving on racing.”
Ironically, when Modern Icon won his second start back, he narrowly beat Eureka Icon who is prepared by his previous owners’ – Robert and Marien Sullivan.
“They were happier that “Tyson” had won and even bought a photo… I’ve won group races but that was my most satisfying win,” an emotional Abela said.
Abela added that when Modern Icon retires, he’ll go through a GAP assessment and then he’s got a family lined up to take him.
“He’ll be living a life of luxury in a penthouse and lapping it up.”
Modern Icon lines up in Race 12 Box 1 at Bendigo on Friday.
And if races were won purely on intestinal fortitude, “Tyson” is halfway home!