Take A Ride With Pocket

Pocket Power

SAB Print and Internet Sports Journalist of the Year, Gary Lemke is a name synonymous with sports writing. Growing up in Pinetown, Gary has always had an interest in horses and has been a racing enthusiast from an early age. Through his position as Publishing Director of Highbury Safika Media, he has been closely involved in the career of one of our best and most well-loved turf stars, Pocket Power. Who better then, to tell his story.

Gary tells me that the book evolved after a series of articles he wrote in the course of following Pocket Power’s career. He reminisces about the interview he conducted with Pocket’s groom, Boy Boy Jevu just before the 2010 Met. Not always the easiest to draw out, Gary managed to get Boy Boy animated by discussing the forthcoming World Cup. When they finally got round to discussing racing, Boy Boy predicted a close finish between Pocket Power, Fort Vogue and River Jetez, although he hadn’t quite decided in what order they’d cross the line. Based on his tips, Gary took the quartet, boxing the Bass runners and did quite nicely thank you!

Intimate interviews with all Pocket Power’s connections make for a rich and detailed portrait of one of our greatest contemporary track stars and indeed a slice of local racing history. Craig Ramsay and Dan de Wet provide background on the breeding aspects, Marsh Shirtliff and the Webbers on the fun and privilege of being his owners, the Bass family on the rigours of his day to day training and conditioning and the charismatic Bernard Fayd’Herbe shares some rare and behind the scenes insights into the jockey room. Gary has set it all against the backdrop of the high energy world of the South African racing industry and coloured it in with the host of trainers and horses who shared the stage with them.

There is also a chapter on Pocket Power in retirement (although he’s been doing anything but resting on his laurels!) and some great insights and anecdotes about Pocket Power’s new life.

Pocket Power’s statistics read like something out of a fairytale and as Gary says, had he been a rugby player or a cricketer there probably would have been three books written about him by now. I believe he sums it up best by saying “I believe Pocket deserves to have a legacy and hopefully he now has one.”

Celebrated local equine photographer Tracy Robertson (www.tracyrobertson.co.za) adds to the book with her beautiful and intimate portraits of Pocket Power. Although she only became involved with the project towards the end of his career, Tracy says it has been a privilege to be associated with a horse of his reputation and she loves her title as Pocket Power’s Personal Photographer ! Having spent time with him in the Bass yard during the run up to the 2011 Queen’s Plate and J&B Met, she got to know Pocket Power the athlete and describes him as a complicated, but incredibly focussed character with a strong sense of self and awareness of who he is. Not the sort of horse to wear his character on his sleeve, Pocket’s close relationship with Boy Boy allowed brief glimpses into his real character and the studies she did of the two of them were some of her favourite moments. However, she says it has been incredibly rewarding to watch him make the transition into his second career and to see him go to a home where he is so appreciated and cherished. He receives scores of fans and visitors and as you will see in the book, poses beautifully for photos!

With so many of our track stars whisked off abroad as soon as they start looking exciting, it has been an extraordinary privilege and pleasure to have Pocket Power grace our tracks. I miss that spunky bay presence with his distinctive running style on the Milnerton gallops. And the Kenilworth parade ring won’t seem quite right without him and his jaunty silks on Queen’s Plate day. But my enormous thanks to Marsh, the Webbers, Boy Boy and the Bass team, Bernard, Belinda and everyone who has given us all so much fun. It’s been quite a ride!

“Pocket” is published through Highbury Safika Media and is set to hit the shelves by 16 November 2011. Books will retail at R190 or can be purchased online for R200 including delivery at either www.pocketpower.co.za, or http://mikebassracing.com/pocketpower/book.asp. All copies pre-ordered online will be autographed by the connections and automatically included in a draw to win a set of framed signed silks and a shoe worn by Pocket when he won the 2008 J&B Met. A portion of allk sales proceeds will be donated to the National Horse Trust, so not only is it a good read, it’s a good cause too! There is a limited print run, so get your order in early to avoid disappointment.

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