Coral Springs, FL --- It has been reported that on Jan. 2, 2013, Hand Me Silver, a Standardbred race horse from Australia who performed the amazing Hot To Trot fireworks stunt show for nearly 20 years on two continents, died of natural causes. He was 28 years old.
A magnificent looking chestnut gelding with a blonde mane and tail and four white-stocking feet, Hand Me Silver was foaled in Australia on October 26, 1985. Sired by Under A Cloud from the Silver’s Colt mare Silver’s Chariot, Hand Me Silver was not that great a racing horse, but under the tutelage of trainer/driver and master stuntman Vincent Silvestro of New South Wales, Australia, the horse became a star.
|Skip Smith photo|
|Vincent Silvestro and Hand Me Silver perform the Hot To Trot Fireworks Stunt Show at Pompano Park on Feb. 3, 2007.|
With Silvestro standing on the shafts of his race sulky, the reins in his teeth and 10,000 candle power marine flares in each hand, Hand Me Silver would race around a dark track pulling a platform attached to the back of the sulky while Silvestro would ignite more than 2,000 rounds of pyrotechnic explosives set to music in one of the wildest displays of horsemanship ever seen.
“Of all the horses I trained and worked with over the years for the Hot To Trot shows, Hand Me Silver was the best.” Silvestro said. “And there will never be another one like him. He was extra special. Not only was he good looking but he was the smartest horse I ever saw. He loved the applause he would get when we would return to the winner’s circle after a show. He looked forward to it, bowing his head up and down and saying thank you to the crowds.”
Hand Me Silver and Silvestro graced the cover and centerfold of Australia’s People Magazine and was selected by noted author and celebrity George Plimpton in his PBS Series, Fireworks, A History and Celebration, as the best fireworks performance in all of Australia/New Zealand.
“He was such a tough horse that in January 1997 I raced Hand Me Silver in the first event at the Tamworth Music Festival in Australia,” Silvestro explained. “And he won. It was his first and only win as a racehorse and I used that race as his warm-up because later on the card after the fifth race I returned with him and did the Hot To Trot show and the people were amazed.”
Hand Me Silver left his native Australia to come to the United States in 1997 and performed his first show ever on North American soil at Northfield Park on May 31.
“On that night Hand Me Silver showed me he was the best horse ever,” Silvestro said. “It was raining so hard they had flood warnings in the area. But 9,000 people had come to the track and we had to do the show. Despite the rain and a sloppy track, Hand Me Silver never missed a beat. Even when some geese from the infield flew at his head and under his feet he did not blink an eyelid and kept right on pacing away. He was unbelievable.”
During the off-season, Hand Me Silver was used for hippo therapy at a local equine center in the mornings, allowing mentally and physically handicapped children to ride him for their therapy session and in the afternoon the riding academy used him for children learning to ride and jump small fences.
Performing throughout Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand, Hand Me Silver graced such events at the world renowned Royal Adelaide Music Festival, the Perth Royal Show, The Gold Coast City Show, Auckland Trotting Club, seven straight New Year’s Eve venues in Kalgoorlie and more than 20 shows at the famous Harold Park in Sydney.
During his show years in the United States, Hand Me Silver performed nine straight years at Pompano Park. He also did shows at Hawthorne, Pocono Downs, Tioga Downs, Garden State Park, Rosecroft Raceway, Harrington Raceway, Saratoga Raceway, the Meadows and the Zanesville County Blue Ribbon Fair in Ohio.
“After his last show at Pompano Park,” Silvestro explained, “we gave Hand Me Silver to a family in south Florida who had a companion horse. They had cared for him in the past, had plenty of trails to ride on and I knew they would take excellent care of him. I will always have fond memories of Hand Me Silver. There will never be another one like him.”