Graham Salisbury and Subzero with Nana Patricia McPeak after her mercy dash to bring Equine SuperFlex to Australia.
The efforts of Nana Patricia McPeak saw 1992 Cup winner Subzero back on his special formula - and just in the nick of time, according to his caregivers.
"Subbie", as he is known, suffers from arthritis. Despite his condition, Subbie is a well-known racing ambassador, visiting schools for children to meet a Melbourne Cup winner. He even has his own line of products, including lunch bags, hats, T-shirts, pencils and drink bottles.
The 21-year-old's painful joints were being successfully treated by his veterinarian with a natural United States product called Flex Plus.
"Subzero was deteriorating rapidly after we ran out of the Flex Plus formula that we were giving him," said Graham Salisbury, Subzero's owner.
Subzero's vet, Tammy Howard, agreed. "We were devastated when the news came that, for some reason, customs would not allow the product to come into the country. We knew that Subbie was in grave danger of going down fast.
"His joints began to swell, and we could see that he was in severe pain. We were desperate, and we tried all sorts of alternate therapies. Nothing worked like the Flex Plus," she said.
Enter McPeak. The woman nicknamed "RicePatty" due to her pioneering efforts in the rice-bran industry, flew to Australia with supplies of the product she had invented.
Owner Graham Salisbury says Subzero is thriving on his new arthritis supplement, brought to Australia by "RicePatty" McPeak.
She told Salisbury: "I'm coming with an updated version of the original formula, and we're going to save this horse."
A few days later, she arrived with enough of the natural human-grade arthritis formula to last for three months.
"She said she was coming," said Salisbury, "and I thought, no way, but two days later, there she was. It brought my wife Anita and me to tears. We are so grateful that someone cared enough about Subbie and was willing to go to extreme measures to help save him. He's a hero and so is she."
Salisbury reports that Subzero's joint swelling has subsided and he has bounced back on the Equine SuperFlex formula.
"It's very apparent that he's feeling good again, and he's going to be around for a long time to come.
"RicePatty really saved his life. We are indebted to her for making the effort."
McPeak says that the equine product that was being held in customs contained the safest of all human-food-grade products - the same rice bran that is manufactured by US company NutraCea - and is in baby food consumed all over Australia and New Zealand.
"To avoid this kind of thing in the future, I met with the necessary authorities, and I'm now working with them to import both human and animal products into Australia," she said.
McPeak, who owns 33 racehorses in Phoenix, Arizona, has been granted two patents on the Equine Superflex formulation for reducing the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis, based on a 50-horse clinical study.
Subzero on a school visit.
Subbie then became a Clerk of the Course horse for 15 years, retiring in June 2008. He now continues as an ambassador for Racing Victoria, visiting about 50 primary and secondary schools each year, giving students the unique opportunity of meeting a Melbourne Cup winner.
Subzero is a popular horse among kids and has a product line which includes lunch bags, hats, T-shirts, pencils and drink bottles. Subbie and Salisbury also help to raise funds for a number of different charities each year.