Trainer Krystle Johnston with Craiglea Deken, who had to be  euthanised after a race gone wrong.
Trainer Krystle Johnston with Craiglea Deken, who had to be euthanised after a race gone wrong. Contributed

Tears flow as Craiglea's 'favourite' son euthanised

TEARS have flowed from Kenilworth to Townsville after horse trainers Craiglea Stud were forced to put down their favourite son.

Five-year-old Craiglea Deken turned down the Cluden Park straight on Saturday when he sustained a break "just above the knee".

Jockey Jason Taylor pulled up the horse but it was too late, with vets later required to euthanase the animal.

His trainer Krystle Johnston said "Dekes" was one of her kids.

"We had him since he was a baby and you go grow a special bond," she said.

"He was always demanding scratches and his tucker. He enjoyed a cuddle.

"I think he was underestimated as a runner, but later in his career he really earned a lot of respect."

 

Trainer Krystle Johnston and strapper Alice Gillins with Craiglea Deken.
Trainer Krystle Johnston and strapper Alice Gillins with Craiglea Deken. Contributed

Krystle's father Stan was part-owner of the gelding and said the freak accident was "just one of those things".

The veteran horseman said Deken had never had an issue with his knee prior to the incident.

 

Mr Johnston said he was a smart horse who was very switched on to his surroundings - $310,000 in prize money is proof of that.

Craiglea Deken was the reigning Queensland Provincial Premiership Horse of the Year and had won 16 races from 65 starts.

 

Trainer Krystle Johnston walks Craiglea Deken around the yard after his race.
Trainer Krystle Johnston walks Craiglea Deken around the yard after his race. Tony Martin

In a career that saw him race all over the state, Deken won majors in Cairns, Mackay, Townsville and Toowoomba.

"He was not only one of our best, but he was naturally one of our favourite horses," Mr Johnston said.

"His strapper, Alice Gillis, and my daughter Krystle absolutely adored him. And he adored them.

"Sometimes he got agitated but he was very easy to train. He was part of the family and we treated him as such.

"When you had to leave him somewhere, he would whinny like crazy.

"The way he used to talk to them, I think he was more human than horse most of the time."

Mr Johnston revealed that Deken had been destined to be a showhorse, part of Ms Gillis' team.



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