‘With him not racing it will just not be the same’
The remarkable career of one of Bermuda’s fastest harness-racing ponies has been cut short by injury.
Indiana-bred gelding, Simsfield Hardtimes, has been plagued by an injured left leg, which ultimately forced owner Aaron Sims to call time on his horse’s career earlier than planned.
“It was a very hard decision and to be honest I don’t even want to go races this year,” Sims told The Royal Gazette.
“With him not racing is just not the same.
“We had him checked by the vet who feels it’s just wear and tear in his lower joint in his front left leg, which has been an ongoing problem with maintenance and stuff. It’s basically like a human needing a knee replacement, so I decided I am not going to race the horse if he’s not 100 per cent as it just doesn’t make sense.
“He was a special pony and it was a hard decision, but it’s the right decision. I am not taking him down there if he’s not 100 per cent as it’s just not right and not fair for him.”
Sims’s horse achieved a personal best time of 1:01/2 that tied the gelding record and was a fifth of a second shy of the overall track record held by retired mare Google Me.
“The horse has ran hard. He made Free for All when he was 4 years old and has been in Free For All his whole life pretty much,” Sims added.
“He tied the gelding record and was a fifth of a second off the track record four times last season and six times in the last two years, so I owe it to him where I am not taking him down there is he is not 100 per cent.”
Driver Kirista Rabain said it was a thrill to compete with Sims’s horse.
“Hardtimes was a special pony to race and a different drive than what I’m use to,” she said.
“He’s a pony you can count on to show up and perform at the races. Even at home now he’s ripping it up while he’s turned out; it makes you second guess retiring him when you see him go.
“When he backs off in a race that’s always a first sign that’s something’s up. It’s amazing how the crowd loved him and if only there was a way for him to realise that.
“He’s the fastest thing I’ve ever driven and another pony that was so consistent and reliable.
“I can’t believe the amount of fast times he did last season and he was just shy of breaking the record quite a few times.”
Simsfield Hardtimes will be officially retired at the National Equestrian Centre on Sunday.
“We are going to take him down on Sunday and he will jog around for a couple of laps,” Sims said.
“We will probably give him his last score or turn around the track and then bring him in, lift the harness off in front of everybody and he’ll be officially retired from racing.”