DEVASTATED: Rachael Watts, Stephen Clarke and Ken Lewis are working hard to help the racehorse heal.
DEVASTATED: Rachael Watts, Stephen Clarke and Ken Lewis are working hard to help the racehorse heal. Bianca Hrovat

HORSE ATTACK HORROR: 'Someone must pay for nightmare ambush'

IT only took a couple of seconds for two stray dogs to destroy months worth of hard work as they began to tear the flesh off prized Warwick racehorse Tatts Gold last week, leaving her owners traumatised and thousands of dollars out of pocket.

Stablehand Ken Lewis was walking the mare along Victoria St when he spotted the dogs emerging from a cable drain just 20 metres away.

As the dogs ran across the road Mr Lewis braced himself for impact and gripped tightly to the mare so she didn't bolt and cause chase.

"One dog went for the front end of her and the other went for the back," Mr Lewis said.

"She was trying to look after herself by striking out at the front while I tried to kick the dog away from behind.

"Then the big dog ripped up her rump, it was pretty bad."

Then, before Mr Lewis knew it, the dogs were gone. They had disappeared back into the drain.

"It happened real quick," he said.

"It shook me up a bit, I was really nervous afterward."

The horrified stablehand lead the skittish mare back to the stables, where the team called their vet and the Southern Downs Regional Council.

Stablehand Rachael Watts said she'd never seen anything like it.

"She just looked so worn out," she said.

But it was not the first time Mrs Watts had encountered the dogs.


Rachael Watts, Stephen Clarke and Ken Lewis with horses in warwick
LONG RECOVERY: Rachael Watts gives Tatts Gold some TLC as the mare recuperates from a frightening dog attack. Bianca Hrovat

On Boxing Day Mrs Watts was leading another horse home from a race at Allman Park when the dogs attempted to strike.

"The horse starting running backwards and I didn't realise what was happening until they were right on us," she said.

"I was yelling and trying to scare the dogs while trying not to lose the horse.

"It really wasn't easy!"

As the situation began to escalate a good Samaritan, passing by in a car, stopped to intervene before any damage could be done.

"We were so lucky that day," Mrs Watts said.

The stablehand said she reported the dogs to council after the confrontation, but did not hear anything further on the issue until the dogs reappeared last week.

The vet gave Tatts Gold stitches in four different places, a seven day course of antibiotics and a tetanus shot, leaving the family with a bill that stretched into the hundreds.


Dog attack on Warwick racehorse Tatts Gold owned partly by Stephen Clarke
Dog attack on Warwick racehorse Tatts Gold owned partly by Stephen Clarke Rachael Watts

It will take the mare months to heal and its wounds will prevent it from racing on the Gold Coast this weekend.

Part-owner Stephen Clarke was devastated to realise the thousands of dollars he, alongside the other horse owners, had invested in Tatts Gold would be for nought.

"That's $10,000 worth of training down the drain," he said.

"And if she'd won this weekend that was worth another $12,000."

Frustrated and severely out-of-pocket, Mr Clarke turned to council to find the owners of the dogs so he could seek compensation.

According to Mr Clarke, SDRC staff told him compensation claims were strictly between the dog owners and himself, but refused to supply any information about the owners.

"Who compensates me then?" he asked.

"It's council property, it's on their footpath, it's on their road.

"What if it was a kid going to school?"

The owners of Tatts Gold say they are seeking legal counsel to determine their next steps.

The Warwick Daily News reached out to the SDRC for comment, but they did not respond by time of print.