Thabani Nzimande with Heinrich Rix and Lucky Houdalakis
Thabani Nzimande with Heinrich Rix and Lucky Houdalakis

Thabani Nzimande (centre) with Heinrich Rix (left) and Lucky Houdalakis (right) at the Ready To Run Sale

(Photo : Heather Morkel)


Stronghold (GB) - Mininski (SNL)

These columns are filled with the achievements of good horses, and it’s easy to write about them. Last week though, we had a story of a different ilk, a dimension of the game that seldom sees itself in print. At the 2011 Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale, we sold a neat little job called Fortitude to a new owner, Heinrich Rix, an accomplished horseman in his own right, but new to the racing game. She is a daughter of Stronghold out of a diminutive mare, Mininski. Though mom was a winner of five, looking at her, you’d never have guessed it, and you’d have to think she got there as much on blood and guts, as she did through athletic ability.

The subject filly couldn’t have been more appropriately named. Fortitude she was, and fortitude she is. As matters turn out, she was denied through life-threatening injury the opportunity of a place in the line-up for this year’s R2.5million renewal of the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup. As luck would have it, she fractured her pelvis early in the New Year, and the prognosis for her racing career was bleak. Somehow, she pulled through and her recovery is as complete as you might expect in the circumstances. She eventually made it to the races in the run-up to this year’s Ready To Run, and came from the clouds to blow away a solid line-up of maidens for a first-up victory. We all know it’s one thing winning your maiden, it’s another following up, and last week she did exactly that, running down another competitive field at the Vaal.

Once again, she came from off them, and while it was a closer call this time, she summoned the courage and the will-to-win which marked the careers of Stronghold and Mininski, to remain unbeaten. In all of this, we should remember that perseverance is the hallmark of a good owner, and Heinrich Rix is just that. He’s made for the game, and this is the beginning. Patience is the hallmark of the good trainer, and Lucky Houdalakis showed us that many times with his great champion J.J. The Jet Plane.

This isn’t a “J.J”, but Fortitude has other surprises for us.