WHEN Gemma and Mat Rue were forced to withdraw Callmequeenbee from last year’s Queensland Oaks after a freak track work incident, it was a shattering moment for the trainer-driver duo.
Not only did she have to be scratched from a feature race she was a very real chance of winning, but they were uncertain what the future would hold for their star mare.
But now, six months on, not only has Callmequeenbee returned to the track, but she has produced two of the best runs of her career.
The four-year-old daughter of Shadow Play won first up at Parkes in a 1:56.7 mile rate after running three-wide for an entire lap, then on Friday night at the Bathurst Paceway, Callmequeenbee mowed down a quality mare who was flying.
Gemma Rue knows how lucky she is, admitting things “could’ve been a whole lot worse”. When she tells the story of how Callmequeenbee was injured, it’s easy to see why she thinks that too.
“We’d taken her up there for the oaks, we got to Queensland on the Tuesday and we worked her on Wednesday, she worked really well,” she explained.
“But as she pulled up she was still wanting to work, she didn’t want to stop, and she ran into the horse in front of her. Her leg got caught on the wheel of the horse in front her.”
Fortunately for the Rues, the horse in front was Chris Frisby’s Our Uncle Sam. Despite the incident, he remained calm while the effort began to free Callmequeenbee.
It took eight people – four of whom were supporting the weight of the mare – some 20 minutes to free her. They had to take Our Uncle Sam out of the gig then remove the wheel.
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Callmequeenbee was left with a cut heel, and strained a tendon below the fetlock. That in itself was not overly serious, but had they pressed on with her campaign it could have developed into something worse.
“We were lucky he [Our Uncle Sam] was quiet enough to stand there so we could get her foot out,” Rue said. “I think she was second favourite for the oaks, and she had a good barrier draw … we had tried really hard to get her set for that race.”
To help the stable star recover she was left in Queensland – a much warmer environment than the Bathurst winter - for three months.
She was given a trial on December 1 – which she won by 11.7 metres in a 1:54.8 mile rate – then won a Country Series Heat at Parkes in a brilliant first up effort on January 9.
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On Friday night at the Bathurst Paceway she backed that up to win the Oberon RSL Club Pace (1,730m). Callmequeenbee ($3) sat one out and one back for much of the trip before catching $1.80 favourite Bronksi Belle down the home straight.
She went on to win by 1.3m and given that last quarter of the mile was covered in 26.8 seconds, it was a massive effort.
“I rate that up there as one of her best wins, to come three wide on that bend and run them down,” Mat Rue said.
“It has been great to to see her come back like she has.”