During the summer when he went off form, Polish Triple Crown winner
was sent to a veterinary clinic, where he was diagnosed with bone bruising, a condition in which the tips of the cannon bones develop tiny micro-fractures that are quite painful.
Bone bruising is difficult to diagnose as there are no obvious signs. Only by use of a nuclear bone scan can sites of inflammation be found that are subsequently confirmed as active by pinpointing digital radiographs. A team of international veterinarians confirmed the diagnosis. Bone bruising is thought to be more common in America, but in fact occurs all over the world. Americans are just more familiar with the condition as they have learned to focus on it. Treatments for the malady are not standardized either. Barry Irwin of Team Valor International
has had more than 35 cases of the disease so his experience allowed him to design a treatment regimen to render the horse sound.
Va Bank received medication and turnout in a grass paddock for exactly two months. The horse was put on an exercise program designed and monitored by Simon Stokes of Gestüt Fährhof
in Germany. Once the horse had completed his prescribed exercise, Van Bank was driven by Stokes to the German training complex of Andreas Wöhler
, who has had him the past few months.
"Remarkably Va Bank is sound" – said Wöhler, who had been told how lame the colt was when arriving at Fährhof. "He has not experienced one hiccup in his training since he arrived with me." Realizing that the horse might come around well in advance of the 2018 European racing season, Irwin asked Wöhler to think about Dubai. The horse has exceeded all expectations and will be flown to Dubai on January 4.
Wöhler said he might run the horse in all three major grass races on the Dubai program, commencing February 1 with the Grade 2 Al Fahidi Fort (purse $250,000) over 1400 meters (correction of owners' plans – Va Bank will run in Grade 2 Al Rashidiya (purse $200,000) over 1800 meters)
, followed on March 10 by the Grade 1 Jebel Hatta (purse $350,000) over 1800 meters and ending on World Cup evening with the Grade 1 Dubai Turf worth $6 million in American dollar and also run over 1800 meters. Barry Irwin won the piece de resistance for the grass category in 2003 when his South African import Ipi Tombe (ZIM)
swept the three-race series and was named Horse of the Year in Dubai.
Irwin added: – I am glad we have been able to diagnose, treat and resuscitate Va Bank so that he may continue with his racing career at age 6, when he should be at the top of his physical powers.