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Highly Geared unable to ease Kirkup’s pain

Garry Kirkup has been unable to mask his heartache while Highly Geared raced in the memory of his partner Samara Johnson at Rosehill.

Saturday’s Mark Hughes Foundation Handicap (1100m) had added significance for the grieving and seriously injured Canberra trainer who watched his favourite mare finish unplaced behind Test The World.

“It was racing’s best-ever seventh,” fellow Canberra trainer Doug Gorrel said.

Gortel has been looking after his neighbour’s stable since a car accident last Sunday in the NSW Riverina left Johnson dead and Kirkup in Canberra Hospital with severe abdominal injuries.

Gorrel watched the race unfold by Kirkup’s bedside while Johnson’s parents Phil and Robyn were trackside with Kirkup’s son Ben.

“Garry thought it was a good run but there’s only one emotion on his face unfortunately, and that’s sheer devastation,” Gorrel said.

“He’s in such terrible pain though he was happy Samara’s parents were at Rosehill to see the big screen tribute for their daughter.”

Kirkup has Original Prankster racing in a maiden handicap at Wagga on Monday.

“That’ll be fitting because Kirky was the king of Wagga for a long time,” Gorrel said.

“It would be nice if we could take his horse over there and have a bit of luck.”

Highly Geared will have a six-week break before preparing for the Camarena Quality (1000m) at Canberra on March 11.

Gorrel said the owners of Kirkup’s small team were happy for their horses to be sent for spells.

“They couldn’t have been more accommodating. They’re happy to let the dust settle,” he said.

Gorrel said the search continues for Johnson’s chihuahua Allen, who has evaded capture since emerging unscathed from the crash.

“He keeps being sighted around Nangus. His bed was run out there midweek in the hope he might sniff that out, declare that home and be easier to catch, but no luck yet,” he said.

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