Winning isn’t everything, it is sometimes said of life. In a world of political correctness, winning is rather frowned upon. Not so much in racing, though.
If a racehorse doesn’t win in a fiercely demanding game, it seldom lasts long. Alternative futures are available: polo, show-jumping, riding schools and, let’s face it, much worse.
There are some heroic exceptions, however. If a horse can do just enough on the racecourse to pay his or her way and turn a small profit for the connections, there is no cause for consignment to the scrapheap.
A nag called Oceans Pride has been slowly winning admirers as a true-blue “battler” on the racetracks of the Highveld. The seven-year-old mare has faced the starter on no fewer than 56 occasions and has zero wins to her credit, but she always tries truly hard and more than earns her keep.
Since her debut in December 2017, Oceans Pride has won R220,325 for owner Ali Wynne – from 32 cheques: five second places, 11 thirds, eight fourths and eight fifths.
On Thursday at the Vaal Classic track, she goes again – start No 57 – for Zimbabwe-based trainer Bridget Stidolph.
In a recent Clocking The Gallop video, Stidolph’s assistant and boss of her small Highveld string, Sean Patterson, revealed Oceans Pride’s nickname at home was ‘The Mooi River Freight Train’ – choofing along relentlessly.
Interestingly, he felt if she ever brought her true ability and training ground form to the races “it would be no contest”.
What she needed, he told interviewer Nico Kritsiotis, was a powerful rider.
Well, since then, former champion jockey S’Manga Khumalo has tried twice to get ‘Oceans’ home but narrowly missed, simply collecting more prize money (paying for oats and “TLC”, as Patterson describes his secret training ingredient.)
On Thursday, in Race 4, a Maiden Plate for fillies and mares over 1600m, Oceans Pride gets the services of reigning champion jockey Lyle Hewitson. Now they mean business!
Patterson reveals that Oceans Pride was a “foundation” horse when Stidolph set up her Joburg satellite yard a few years ago. The mighty mare has gone on to become the heart and soul of the small but well-respected stable and there would be notable celebrations if she were to crack that pesky maiden.
Oceans Pride has faced easier tasks in her long career. In-form horses she must beat on Thursday include three-year-old fillies Code Zero, Monashada and Miss Otis.
But the old girl is in good heart, coming off a spirited runner-up effort, and might decide to put in that little bit extra for once.
Race 1: 1 Lazy Guy, 9 Ginjamatinja, 2 Lulus Boy, 8 General Hancock
Race 2: 7 Who’s That Star, 2 Alabama Anna, 1 Sheldon, 3 Chloris
Race 3: 7 Another Level, 1 Track Commander, 8 Duke Of Rain, 2 Kompromat
Race 4: 3 Oceans Pride, 6 Code Zero, 8 Monashada, 11 Miss Otis
Race 5: 3 Successful Ruler, 4 Rosenwind, 2 West Coast Lover, 5 Midnight Badger
Race 6: 3 Mike’s Chick, 2 Iron Will, 4 Flying Bull, 5 Platinum Sky
Race 7: 6 Me Time, 2 Sultanah, 9 Lady Calavera, 3 Let There Be Light
Race 8: 11 Silvery Blue, 7 Tinder Dry, 12 Icy Night, 4 Dark Travel
Pick 6: 7 x 3,6,8,11 x 2,3,4,5 x 2,3,4 x 2,3,6,7,8,9 x 1,4,7,11,12,14 (R1728)
PA: 7 x 7 x 3,6 x 3,4 x 3 x 2,6,9 x 7,11 (R24)