(PHOTO - A handsome stallion and an AQHA champion, Sugar Sabre was brought to Ontario by Cathy Mucklestone's family in 1983)
For Cathy Mucklestone, horses have always been a part of her life. As the Ajax Downs Paddock Judge, Mucklestone has worked her way up to just one of many roles held by her well known father Ken, one of the leaders of the Quarter Racing Owners of Ontario Inc. in the 1990s.
One horse made Quarter Horse racing become a true family affair for Cathy in 1983 when her mother Jane purchased an aging stallion and brought him to Ontario just because he was a favourite of hers.
That horse, Sugar Sabre, brought the entire Mucklestone family together in Quarter Horse racing and he's the horse that changed Cathy’s life.
As a teenager growing up in Uxbridge, Cathy bought her first horse to ride, following the path of her brother who paid off his horse bills by working in barns. She wanted to be a jockey but a car accident gave her an aversion to the starting gate and she never pursued a riding career.
Meanwhile, their mother began to dabble in breeding horses and bought a Quarter Horse mare and two weanlings at an auction in 1976. The following year the family bought a farm.
The weanlings were offspring of the AQHA champion Sugar Sabre, a racehorse and halter champion, and led Cathy’s mother to dabble in racing. When she heard that Sugar Sabre was for sale years later, she sent her family to buy him.
“His offspring could do anything,” said Cathy. “They raced, showed, haltered. And there weren’t too many of them left.”
Sugar Sabre bred a few mares and soon the entire family, including Cathy’s husband Rik Hudson became involved in Quarter Horse racing. Jane worked in various roles at the track while Ken was president and vice-president of QROOI, a timer and then a paddock judge. An award named in his honour is presented at the annual Ajax Downs awards to an individual who “represents and promotes” integrity in the sport.
Cathy took over her father’s job as paddock judge in 2001 and has not missed a single race day at Ajax Downs. She is grateful to Sugar Sabre for bringing her and her family into the sport.
“Sabre was kindest and gentlest stallion you would ever come across,” said Cathy. “I would hop on his back at any time and it was just like riding a rocking horse.”
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