Because the way he has managed the careers of two of the north’s elder statesmen – Our Southern Man and Silver Stream – suggests he is more than a dab hand at caring for those in their twilight years.
Both won for Abernethy at Cambridge on Thursday night, with Our Southern Man aged 12 and Silver Stream aged 11.
Seeing a horse with a double figure age is not all that uncommon but to see two win on the same night, from the same barn? A rare feat indeed.
One of the main reasons the pair of them are still able to race competitively is Abernethy’s underwater treadmill.
Both horses have ongoing soundness issues that require strict management and being able to keep them fit while taking the pressure off their legs is a huge help.
“Our Southern Man originally came up to me to go on the treadmill because he was sore,” Abernethy told Harness Xpress.
“As it is he can only race every fortnight but that works out well because they usually race at Cambridge every two weeks and he’s not that good the Auckland way around.”
It was the son of Jeremys Gambit’s 15th career win, 11th for Abernethy, 7th at Cambridge, 7th in an amateur race and 6th with stable associate and amateur driver John Kriechbaumer in the sulky.
Unfortunately there probably won’t be too many more wins in the pipeline; Abernethy believes Our Southern Man’s dodgy legs are about to catch up with him.
“I don’t think he will last until Christmas; it is getting harder and harder to keep him sound.”
Stablemate Silver Stream has also been a great flag-bearer for the stable and added another win to his record when winning the trot off 30m.
Another stable rep, Stuey D, ran a close second to make the drive home that little bit better.
Silver Stream is officially an open class trotter, but thanks to the claiming system, he has been able to race competitively in more suitable fields well into his golden years.
Abernethy leased Silver Stream off local Ardmore trainer Alek Goryl a tick under two years ago and proceeded to win seven races over the 2013-14 summer before he was sent home ‘on his mark’.
Another briefer stint with Goryl came to an end in March of this year when he was again leased by Abernethy and Thursday’s win was his fourth this time around and 11th for the stable.
“He’s another one that’s got to be on the treadmill to race at his best.
“And if he couldn’t race as a claimer he would be retired.
“The biggest thing about both horses is they have a big heart; they keep trying.
“Even when they are under pressure they keep going.”
Stuey D’s run for second was sign of what he is capable of and Abernethy says if he can get his manners sorted, he will be a serious trotter.
“Every time he has trotted the whole way for us he has run in the money.
“I am actually thinking about sending him to Australia soon; he flies the gate and will love Menangle.”
Abernethy has not been afraid to think outside the square and has sent many horses to good friend Ashlee Siejka to race in New South Wales including former star Henrik Zetterberg and recent winner My Lucky Belle.
“Stuey D and Platinum Poker will probably both go over there soon.”
A recent trip to Sweden for a holiday was a chance to take in the highly professional Scandinavian trotting industry.
“I went to the races up there and had a good look around.
“They pay a lot more attention to detail. The grooms have about six horses each and are totally focussed on them.”
“I actually tried to buy one to bring back and race and then stand as a stallion but the costs were huge.”
Breeding is just another hat that Abernethy wears; along with his father he boasts the likes of Five Card Draw and Ideal Belle as breeding credits.
Their dam Blistering Belle has turned out to be a goldmine for the family with her latest foal, Platinum Belle, reaching $75,000 (from Barry Purdon, naturally) at the 2014 Yearling Sales on the back of Five Card Draw and Ideal Belle’s deeds.
“She is in foal to American Ideal and we also have a Well Said and Lucky Chucky on the way.”
Just to really hammer home the fact that Abernethy has a diverse portfolio, he has taken out a thoroughbred training license and has leased a galloper – an Elusive City mare named Elucidate.
“I was in the Auckland RC syndicate that raced her and once they gave up on her, I took it. She’s on the treadmill as well.”