A freak accident forced Donna Logan to arrive at Kranji one month later than scheduled, but the positive woman said the untimely setback has not really thrown her new career plans in disarray.
The latest addition to the Singapore training ranks – and second female trainer after Leticia Dragon – was supposed to have already settled in at her new stables at the beginning of January, but a horrifying swimming pool accident one day after New Year’s Day nearly cost her life.
The 56-year-old trainer from Ruakaka slid on the tiles of an infinity pool and hit her head. The impact was so hard it fractured her upper jaw, sinuses, eye sockets and base of her skull.
On the day Logan and long-time partner Peter Woods were supposed to tie the knot, January 5, she was instead lying in an operation theatre where her seriously-damaged skull received five titanium plates and lots of wiring, and she also had a tooth extracted.
Not many could have coped with the turning of such a fairytale (new Kranji adventure and wedding) into a nightmare in a split second, but the tough-as-nails former jockey did.
Logan quickly recovered and five days after her surgery, she could finally say “yes, I do” to Woods in a quiet ceremony among close friends and relatives at Whangarei, including Logan’s daughter Samantha, 26, a trainer at Cambridge, son Robert, 21, an urban planner who also helps out at the Auckland Racing Club and Woods’ twin daughters aged 20, who are both studying at the University of Auckland.
Despite the inopportune time of the accident, at no time did the idea of shelving or canning the Singapore sling cross her mind. The pool accident was unfortunate, but in the overall scheme of things, just a kink that the resilient woman has put behind her, and with her landing at Kranji on Wednesday with Woods and assistant-trainer Graeme Forbes, it’s time to get down to business.
“Things happen for a reason. I have always been a positive person and the bad days have gone behind us now,” said Logan who, amazingly, barely shows any ill-effects of the accident on her face.
“No doubt the accident set us back, but as the horses were not due until now anyway, it didn’t make a whole lot of difference. It’s just that now we are rushing to get all the paperwork done whereas we would have had more time if we had come earlier.
“I have to say everybody at the Club has been so obliging. They were very helpful and so were the trainers here – we are indeed very lucky.
“Anyway, it’s the past and we are just so grateful for the incredible opportunity to be training here in Singapore. I’ve actually been coming here to the races since the Club moved to Kranji 20 years ago.
“I told my kids right away I should apply but I never got around to doing it! Last year, they told me: ‘Mum, it’s time to apply’ and here I am. They all gave us their blessing.
“The facilities are fantastic, I like the country, the food and the lifestyle. In New Zealand, we are at Ruakaka and unless the races are held there, the rest of the year we have to travel for two hours to take our horses to the races.
“That is something I won’t miss!”
Physically, Logan will not be in New Zealand anymore, but she will still be registered as the training partner of Chris Gibbs, albeit remotely. They are currently sitting in seventh spot on 30 winners and close to NZ$600,000 in stakes earnings on the New Zealand trainer’s log.
“I will continue to train with Chris and the stable there will be a feeder to our stable here,” she explained.
“But my main focus will be Singapore. I have eight horses who are in quarantine, two two-year-olds, three Restricted Maidens by Pour Moi, Showcasing and Super Easy, and three raced horses – Command Royale, Twentysixtwelve and Green Star.
“Volkstok’n’barrell, my multiple Group 1 winner will be in the next batch on February 23, along with The Big Easy and Whakaaria Mai.
“I will have the same owners from back home, and they include both New Zealanders and Australians as well as Chinese. I do have a Singaporean owner who supported me back home, but no local owners from here yet.
“I look forward to having local owners joining me as we go along.”
A winner of more than 850 races including 60 at Group and Listed level, Logan who has been training since 1987, certainly wants to make a good fist of that brand new chapter of her stellar training career.
Some of her career highlights are Victory Smile in the 2002 Group 1 Metropolitan Handicap, Habibi in the 2013 Group 1 New Zealand Derby, Rising Romance in the 2014 Group 1 Australian Oaks, Volkstok’n’barrell in the 2015 Group 1 Rosehill Guineas and 2017 Group 1 Herbie Dyke Stakes, Tavidream in the Group 2 Championship Stakes and All Roads in the Group 2 Windsor Park Stud Japan NZ International Trophy.
Success on the track aside, Logan is also a proactive forward-thinking lady who has at heart the idea of chipping in her experience in other fringe racing activities.
“I also want to be involved at the Club by bringing in young and new racing fans, bring women back to the races, fashion competition,” she said with a glint in her eyes.
“Back home, Peter has two twin daughters at the University of Auckland and they brought 30 students to the races one day. Normally they wouldn’t have gone, but all it takes is to make racing attractive.
“I also aspire to bring big groups of New Zealand owners or syndications. It’ll be like a holiday to fly over and watch their horses race here in Singapore for very good prizemoney, that’s the value added.”
In the meantime, Logan will be busy filling up her boxes at “The Village” - the name given to the smallest stabling blocks near the canteen - and hopes to have her first Kranji starter very soon.
“They are in quarantine now but they were already in work back home and are ready to go,” she said.
“We will learn along the way, but it sure is exciting times ahead.” -STC