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Clarkie Loved Wolf Power

What a terrific horse

Sporting Post reader Cecil Pienaar, a Hollywoodbets Scottsville regular, is proudly Pietermaritzburg born and bred and the unofficial Mayor of Albert Falls.

He can explain the title, but writes in the Sporting Post Mailbag that his late Mom, fondly known as Clarkie, had an absolute ‘obsession’ with Wolf Power from 1981 until the champion was  sold for export to the USA as a 5yo.

With his distinctively special ‘Strawberry Blonde’ colour, he was the best horse ever, as described by Jeff Lloyd.

Jeff Lloyd (photo: Twitter)

Jeff Lloyd (photo: Twitter)

Jeff was also her favorite jockey, but Michael Roberts  was a good stand in choice for the 1982 Clairwood Champion Stakes.

What made Wolf Power more special was that he was bred in the Eastern Cape.

Clarkie was also born in PE, her favorite racecourses being Arlington and Fairview.

Wolf Power sold for R35 000 to Herman Brown clients and following year for R100,000 to Ricky Maingard clients Richard Birch (breeder) and Denim Rodwell.

The Champion won 18 races from 1200 – 2000m, which included seven Gr1’s, the highlights being the 1984 Queen’s Plate Plate and the Met as a 5yo.

His last race in SA (in hindsight, a race he shouldn’t have run), he finished unplaced. The massive offer was reduced, but Ma Clarkie’s Champion still left for The States.

Another Grey in The Maingard stable, Bodrum came along, 2 years younger but no one ever took Wolf Powers place !

And history certainly bears out Clarkie’s passion!

Wolf Power

Wolf Power – canter down for 1984 Met

Now retired, Jeff Lloyd called the 1984 Met Wolf Power’s most memorable race as it was the only time he won at 2000.

“My parents flew to Cape Town to support me and my father was keen to go the stables to see Wolf Power on the morning of the race. Wolf Power let my father know what he thought of his new shirt, bought specially for the Met, by biting and tearing it!” Jeff recalled.

But there was drama in the build-up week.

Trainer Ricky Maingard tells how he received a call in Durban from the chief stipe in Cape Town a few days after Wolf Power had travelled there, saying there’d been a kidnapping attempt on the horse.

“He was dead serious. I jumped on the next plane and we organised armed guard surveillance. On race day he travelled to the course in a special float with an armed convoy. It was quite hectic.”

By now, of course, American buyers were showing interest. After Wolf Power won the Drill Hall again, a provisional deal was set up at R4-million.

1984 Gr1 Queen’s Plate

Plans were laid for a swansong in the Schweppes Challenge of 1984, but before the race Wolf Power’s blood readings were not right and a virus was suspected. After debate among the connections it was decided to race – with disastrous consequences.

Wolf Power battled into fifth after being cut into, but it was enough for the buyers to slash their offer. “We lost R2-million in two minutes,” said Richard Birch ruefully.

The grey was sold and shipped out nonetheless.

“But he was never the same horse after that illness,” says Richard Birch.

Happily, that was far from the end of the Wolf Power story. The big fellow carved out a very respectable stud career in Kentucky – despite never getting top-ranked mares.

Standing at Gainesway, he sired 38 stakes winners, including Grade 1 winner Freedom Cry. About 400 winners from 18 crops took prize money of $25-million. Many of the foals were roans.

When Wolf Power died at 24 in 2002 he was buried at Gainesway. A farm spokesman said: “He was a true professional on the racecourse and at stud. He was a very kind stallion and was looked upon as a member of the family here. We will remember him well.”

Bred by Birch Brothers, Wolf Power (Flirting Around — Pandora, by Casabianca) set four course records and was the first South African runner to race a mile under 1:34.

Those were the days!

Ed – For those wondering, Albert Falls is a town in the Umgungundlovu District Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal. Population of about 4536 at last count.

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18 comments on “Clarkie Loved Wolf Power

  1. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Hello Mr Ed. Thank You for running this article. It certainly brightens up a “Grey day” here at Albert Falls, Cramond. Actually just a small village, with the beautiful but only 35% full Albert Falls dam, very popular for Bass fishing.

    Back to the Article, I was surprised that Wolf Power didn’t come up a lot lately in discussion, but we all have our favorites. The 80s era it seems, produced so many fantastic horses.

    Oh Clarkie loved this one, so did my girlfriend, now wife, a non punter. To this day she’ll back her R20 win place on any Grey. Admit, also my favorite horse then. Pity not so many of his races avail today.

    PS – I appointed myself Mayor out here ?, LoL, the nearest robot is 25 kms away in Pmb …. Peaceful place to be locked up.

    1. Editor says:

      Thanks for the submission Cecil
      Who needs robots? 🙂
      Sorry no video clip – we did try to call Andrew Bon to see if he has a copy.
      Hopefully more readers will send their anecdotes/ trivia/ reminisces to [email protected]

    2. Editor says:

      Many thanks to Andrew Bon
      Cecil, we have added the clip of Wolf Power’s 1984 Queen’s Plate win
      Andrew tells how he visited the almost white Wolf Power at stud in the USA – maybe we will get some of that footage, too!

  2. Clinton says:

    Nice story. Beautiful horse, and a Champion in his time. Serious money for a horse back then !

  3. Brian says:

    Lovely! And I have dear friends who farm timber on the edge of the dam. Lovely place! I must have met Cecil without knowing at the great Scotsville

  4. Carry On Alice says:

    Wolf Power is broodmare sire of American Horse of the Year, Wise Dan.

  5. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Thank You Mr Ed and Andrew Bon. Wow, that is the Wolf Power I remember. ?

    Hey Brian, must be. At one stage, before Rockerfellas, we had an almost permanent table (106) on race days. BBQ times and before. Picnics near old carpark before inner fields, with my young sons then. Ag, lekker ou dae ….

  6. Clinton says:

    Wolf Power, forgotten Champion, son of a Big time Sprinter ? Winning over 2000m

    Lovely story all round


    Cecil, I was in the parade ring when the security guards ushered him in.

    The two grey’s, Wolf Power and Windjammer, was all I wanted to know about for those 3 to 4 years.

    He had that darkening around his eyes… Don’t messed with me !

    He carried his head so proudly,even just before he decided to attack in the race.

    Thanks for sharing Mr. Pienaar

  8. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Good Night William ?, good memories hey

  9. Jim says:

    i remember him going under 1.34. i would teally like to know what the fastest 10 times for amile in s a are and what the current course records and holders are

  10. Shanil says:

    More stories like this please. Model man. Main man. Spanish pool.

  11. Chene Adele Fisher says:

    Pls more videos of Jeff

  12. Chene Adele Fisher says:

    Jeff the best ever

  13. Garrick Bergh says:

    Wow! R4 million in 1984 was, by todays value, a monumental offer. Comparatively that would equate to R 21,520,467 now. (The rand was R3,42 to the dollar in 1984. Divide R4 million by R3,42 & then multiply it by R18,40).

    1. Editor says:

      Interesting, Garrick
      Andrew Bon mentioned yesterday that Wolf Power stood for $15 000 at the time

  14. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Just shows what name he made for himself. The final price paid was half of of original offer. Still big bucks

    Not so long ago we questioned when the Cape Derby fav was withdrawn after being sold …

    Mr Birch ” we lost 2M dollars in 2 min “

  15. Mac Naidoo says:

    Wolf Power a fantastic horse can we have another of my favourite the best Herman Brown saddled Gatecrasher

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