Pepper Assault’s victory on debut at Northam evoked a myriad of emotions for trainer, Holly Taylor.
A maiden win at Northam doesn’t hold the prestige of a feature race in Perth, but nonetheless there were plenty of tears, sentiment and jubilation for Taylor.
Tears for a three-year-old who defied the odds and delivered a miracle when no one expected to see her at the races let alone be competitive and win.
Sentiment as it was Taylor’s first victory since Burning Pride, a mare that lost her life after a freak accident, won at Belmont nearly a year ago.
Jubilation for Pepper Assault’s group of owners who put their faith in Taylor and backed her in when they could have retired their filly before she set foot on a race track.
After life-threatening injuries, getting Pepper Assault to the races was always going to be a long-shot, but that she was able to do it underlined not only her courage, but Taylor’s dedication.
“It was a huge, huge thing to win with her,” Taylor told The Races WA.
“It was my first winner since Burning Pride and it was very emotional.
“Two weeks after we put down Burning Pride Pepper (Assault) rolled through a fence.
“She severed a major artery in her back leg and it was pretty bad.
“She lost a lot of blood obviously and was at the vets for a while.
“The damage she did was just huge and she kept getting cellulitis in her leg, infections and bone problems.
“We had lots of problems rehabbing her and it was a big, big effort to try and get her back to the track.
“We were just over the moon to get a trial out of her to be fair.”
The severity of Pepper Assault’s injuries was a crushing blow for her owners.
There dreams and aspirations shattered before she even raced could have left a sour taste in their mouths.
They were prepared to pull the pin and retire Pepper Assault, her welfare and recovery their primary focus.
But although Taylor is a minnow in training experience, underestimating her determination and commitment in any way was folly.
“I begged the owners to let me try and rehab her because I thought the world of her,” Taylor said.
“Because the injuries were so bad, they were thinking if it was worth putting all this effort into her.
“She hadn’t even started yet or got to trials or anything by that stage.
“I guess I had to fight a little bit for her, but they were really good about it.
“Once I said what I thought about it they were right with me.
“I did think she was a really nice horse, at least nice enough to trial.”
Taylor hopes while Burning Pride ends one sad chapter a new dawn is born with Pepper Assault.
Taylor took over Burning Pride from Grant and Alana Williams, good friends and mentors, who wanted to give her early training career a boost.
Another daughter of Blackfriars she was no world-beater, but became one of Taylor’s firm favourites.
Sadly, she lost her life after bravely fighting infections incurred when she was attacked by a free roaming dog at Kwinana’s Naval Base horse beach.
Again, displaying her tenacity, Taylor spent weeks chasing down the owner of the dog who departed the accident quickly and escaped without penalty.
“It took a bit of work and everyone getting together, but we actually found the lady in the end ourselves,” Taylor said.
“We got it to the council and hassled them and they really stepped up and brought it to a close, I guess.
“The Mayor of Kwinana called up to let me know the lady who owned the dog had been convicted and prosecuted for it.
“It’s kind of a real nice ending to all of it, I guess.”
Pepper Assault and Holly Taylor: a win for persistence, courage, belief and loyalty.