“Pocket” by Gary Lemke

“Pocket” by Gary Lemke

I recall going to the 2010 Vodacom Durban July, hoping that Pocket Power would win, this after witnessing his dead-heat with Dancer’s Daughter in 2008. I will never forget watching him come around the corner into the straight at Greyville after he was caught wide, the race had not gone well for him from the start. Commentator Craig Peters’ voice rose as he said at that point: “The ground begins to shake under Pocket Power’s feet,” which was a goose bump moment and I watched him fly up the on the outside rail.

He made up a phenomenal amount of ground to come from almost last, but still lost by 10 lengths, Bold Silvano taking home the title. I went to the balcony afterwards overlooking the parade ring where the July runners were being walked and hosed off, some having vet inspections – and even with Bold Silvano and the placed horses around, a crowd had gathered in the far top left corner, watching Pocket Power being hosed off by his groom. For me it proved how special this horse was not only to the racing community, but to everyone, that a horse that ran 12th still attracted more attention than the July winner himself.

And so it was with much enthusiasm that I attacked “Pocket”, a riveting read about a modern day champion. The story begins with his birth and follows with him being sent to the Cape Yearling Sales and the story of how the two men bidding for him at the sale both came to own him, a wealthy businessman and a successful pig farmer from Port Elizabeth and how Dan de Wet of Zandvliet Stud had the name Pocket Power reserved for a special horse.

It recounts a moving story, filled with great insights from the owners and trainer and everyone surrounded with this great horse. It also contains many “behind the scenes” stories. There is a genuine love between the owners and trainer and this brilliant horse with a fantastic insight into this great gelding’s personality. “I’ve got over 100 horses in my stables but Pocket Power was the one that always stood out,” explained Mike Bass. “Every day I’d put my head into each stable and check on the horses and it was always Pocket who would look at me squarely in the eye. He knew who he was, he knew he was our champion. He had such a presence and could be quite intimidating.”

Mike Bass achieved an incredible feat of horsemanship, given the circumstances regarding Pocket Power’s feet, that he was able to race as successfully and for as long as he did.

Pocket Power does have some roots in KZN, with his sire Champion Jet Master being a KZN-Bred, while his dam Stormsvlei was bought and raced in KZN by Craig Ramsay, and subsequently began her stud career at his Golden Acres farm (now Yellow Star Stud).

The book contains a lovely chapter on his dam Stormsvlei, recounting how she was almost exported to Canada with her foal, which no doubt would have changed our racing history books forever.

The book moves quickly through his races which gives a detailed and riveting account of each, with plenty of special moments.

The ending is very emotional and it is hard not to shed a tear when they describe his last run in the J & B Met, and his farewell in front of 50 000 fans. “The People’s Champion” as he came to be known, will remain a legend in South African racing and we may never see a horse of this calibre repeat the feats Pocket Power achieved. A highly recommended and enjoyable read.

KZN Breeders has two copies of the book to give away as prizes. To be in line to win a copy, please click here.

To purchase a copy of the book, follow the link or find it at selected Exclusive Books stores.

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