Comeback sprinter Rothfire shows fighting spirit just like his owner

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Ahead of Rothfire’s incredible return to racing, one of his part-owners tells of her own courageous comeback from a car accident that shows anything is possible.

If comeback king Rothfire can show half the fighting spirit one of his owners has, he is in for an almighty spring carnival as he builds towards The Everest next month.

Returning from a fractured sesamoid bone, Rothfire’s 12 months on the sidelines has been well documented.

While his remarkable comeback to racing is nothing short of a miracle, it pales in comparison to the comeback his part-owner Louise Yates made in the 70s when the aspiring actress broke her back as her career was kicking off, leaving her in a wheelchair for the rest of her life.

Told by many her career was over before it began, Yates courageously dug deep to follow her dreams of one day making it to the big time.

“I am from Melbourne originally, I started my acting career at the age of 15 and funnily enough I had just signed a contract with the ABC for Bellbird which was a long running TV show at the time,” Yates said.

“Not long after, we had a car accident on Boxing Day and I broke my back.

“They all said I’ll never come back to TV, my career was over.”

Just like the horse she now adores however, Yates would go on to prove the doubters wrong.

“I came back and I worked in television for another 12 years,” she said, with many later labelling her a trailblazer in the TV industry.

“It just proves you can’t write anybody off.”

It is that fighting spirit that permeates through Rothfire’s entire ownership group as they prepare for his return to racing in The Shorts at Royal Randwick, 30 minutes down the road from where his near career-ending injury happened at Rosehill.

With a slot in The Everest secured and a Group 1 victory already in their keeping, Yates has to pinch herself most days as she readies herself to ride the wave of emotion again.


Having only owned one horse prior to Rothfire, Yates has a sense of guilt when she hears of people who go their entire life owning horses without ever cracking it at the top level.

“You almost get this feeling of guilt because you hear so many stories of people who have had so many horses and never had a Group 1 winner,” she said.

“You listen to people on the radio who have had them their whole life and are trying to get their first Group 1 runner and these are people who have been in the business for years, you think ‘these guys must hate us’.

“He is our second horse. We had a syndicate together with our son and a few of his mates from school along with our friends.

“A few months after (our first horse) was retired we decided we’d look for another horse so my son and his mate got together and saw Rothfire, when they looked at the price they thought ‘this is all right’.”

The rest, as they say is history.

Having seen him raise the bar each time he has stepped out, Yates says she has the ultimate confidence in trainer Rob Heathcote to get the horse back to the winners stall, but to just see the “Thrilla from Chinchilla” burning up the turf again will be a victory in itself.

“Rob Heathcote isn’t just a trainer to us anymore, he is someone we have been to hell and back with, he is someone who has been there for us as newbies so he is a friend as much as he is the trainer of Rothfire,” she said.

“I will be a shocking mess before the race on Saturday. An injury like Rothfire’s can happen to any horse but we all believe and that is the main thing.

“He is stepping up again. He is strong, he is sound and he is going to astound I believe.”

Originally published as Comeback sprinter Rothfire shows fighting spirit just like his owner

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