Pocket Power – Tributes
A TRIBUTE TO A CHAMPION
Intro by Mark Bass
Pocket Power has officially retired from racing, and so we pay homage to the end of a magnificent era, and pay tribute to a horse that has changed the face of South African horse racing history.
It has been said that longevity is the hall mark of the truest Champion. Well he comes no bigger, We have been treated to six years of amazing racing which included 20 career victories, nine of which at group 1 level and shattered numerous records along the way – The first horse to win the Winter Triple Crown; unbeaten in the Gr2 Green Point Stakes from three starts; four consecutive Gr1 Queens Plate’s and three consecutive Gr1 J&B Mets, and who could forget the courageous Vodacom Durban July dead heat with Dancer’s Daughter.
Pocket Power only ever lost one race from 10 starts over the Kenilworth mile, the last of which he placed 4th when attempting to equal Kelso’s world record of 5 consecutive grade 1 races in his last Queens Plate.
He was placed on 17 occasions and only ever finished out of the money 6 times from his 43 appearances while earning his owners more than R10 million (after bonuses)
It has been a marvellous privilege for us to train such a magnificent thoroughbred and on a personal level, I have been afforded the great opportunity to document and journalise his career from the very beginning, up close and personal, which has been a rare and unique privilege for me.
With a character, heart, and a record like no other, we pay tribute to the great, Pocket Power!
What can I say about this champion than has not been seen already?
It was a real privilege and honour for me to be a part of this legacy and it goes without saying that he is the best horse I have, and most probably will ever sit on. He is a real Champion in every aspect of the word.
To the Big Boy- Thanks for the memories and all the good times we have shared. May you relax and enjoy the grass paddocks in the next phase of your life!
Lastly, A special thanks to my legendary trainer Gandalf the Great, for without him, I assure you there would have been no Pocket Power!
Great job Boss!!
It is only the privileged and fortunate few who get to cherish the emotionally charged opportunity of being associated with a champion racehorse.
And then there are those who get to take that extra quantum leap into history and immortality courtesy of a wonder horse.
Such a horse is Pocket Power – a giant amongst men!
Pocket our beloved champion. Thank You for bringing so much joy into our lives. May you have a wonderful retirement and long may you live!
What a thrilling, life-changing and humbling experience it has been …… to co-own one of the greatest horses this country has ever produced. We bought him on his pedigree qualifications, telephonically and thanks to the wise, very wise, input of Terry Silcock, of Starston Stud. The magnanimity of Marsh Shirtliff, a racing legend in his own time, secured us a share in this great horse, bred by Dan de Wet of Zandvliet Stud. The further input by maestro, Mike Bass, his entire team and jockey Bernard Fayd’herbe, culminated in this magnificent animal achieving such incredible feats of racing glory – albeit at times under physically difficult, race-threatening conditions. We thank them all.
We have made tremendous friends, have met so many interesting people from all walks of life, South Africans as well as those from distant shores, with whom we have been able to share this amazing Pocket Power experience.
At his post J & B Met canter past, where the peoples’ champion was seen to reduce grown men to tears, he moved with consummate ease and grace – the epitome of a great racehorse. It is easy for the heart to rule the head, but lightly raced as he has been, one wonders if there may be more to come.
So for now, we say au revoir POCKET POWER, son of Jet Master . Thanks for the incredible ride! Pocket, we salute you!
Arthur and Rina Webber
As owners of Jet Master, the sire of Pocket Power, we have watched with pride & joy, the performance of the “Peoples’ Champion” over many years. We have seen him establish records which will stand for a long time & we believe he is one of the finest racehorses ever to have raced in South Africa. His retirement is the publics’ loss, but we are sure everyone will wish him a long & happy rest.
Henry & Pat Devine
What can one write about Pocket that has not already been written. Suffice to say that it has been a pleasure and a privilege working with a horse of his calibre and class. He will be sorely missed.
Having so far enjoyed a career that spans over 35 years few horses attach themselves strongly to your heartstrings but Pocket was one of those courageous champions that I could never forget. He was plagued with so many problems and after each race you were never sure if Mike and his team would be able to piece him together again but through their excellent work and a horse with a heart of a lion he always came back and proved he was a great champ. Even after I left South Africa my heart always belonged to the Pocket and nothing made me happier then when the champ continued to win for my great friends Mike, Marsh and Bernard. South Africa will truly miss this great horse on their racetracks.
Throughout history we look at champions with great admiration and respect. There are no words that can describe how much Pocket Power contributed not only to the horse industry, but to those who were not even involved in horses.
It will be a long time before many of his records will be broken; he is one of the greatest horses South Africa has ever produced.
Congratulations to all the connections of this great athlete!
Pocket Power has been part of my life for the last 6 years. From the first time he caught my eye up until now, he has never ceased to amaze me. He is certainly the best horse I have trained and the bravest too. We had a great relationship and he never once let me down, although I at times may have let him down. I will have wonderful memories of training him for all those great races and will be eternally grateful that he came into my life.
What can I say about Pocket? I got to know him pretty well and what a character he was.
Pocket was a nice horse to work with but never an easy horse, he was full of life and always kept me on my toes.
He has a mind of his own but as you know, can be very difficult to, especially on his way to be saddled up, but once he got into the enclosure he became very focused and never gave me any hassles. But for as silly as he can be, never did you see an easier and more relaxed horse during a race. When it came to racing he was a true professional
.After he won, all he ever wanted to do is to get back to his feed trough, so it made my job fairly difficult trying to parade him for the press. He spent his life bumping, pushing, shoving and barging me, but that was just Pocket, and there will never be another horse like him.
I will forever miss his unique personality and sheer brilliance.
I sincerely hope that people don’t compare Pocket Power with other turf legends. He is a legend; no doubt, he is the peoples’ champion and the King of Kenilworth. He has reduced grown men to tears and forged friendships between people who would never otherwise have connected, that’s why he is so special. Let’s not try to compare Pocket Power with any other racehorse, he is unique – one of a kind!!
I am privileged and humbled to be mentioned in the same sentence as Pocket, he is my ultimate
equine blessing. As with so many legends who have left us, we will only truly appreciate his greatness once he is gone. It might take a few years, but in time his legend will grow. Pocket has made a difference to my life and I know he has done so for many others.
MET DAY SAT. 29TH JANUARY 2011.
“One of the legends of the turf is at the finish line, having stamped himself as the undisputed peoples champion.”
One of the oldest conundrums of sport is when to retire a champion. History is strewn with names of legends who stayed on too long. Great boxers, formula one drivers, cyclists and tennis players have all struggled to accept the end of their era. At least golfers are able to wander off and compete with their own age group on the senior’s tour. Other sport, horse racing included, has no space for sentiment, no respect for past achievements.”
Quote per kind favour of Gary Lemke
Where, in this wide world, can man find nobility without pride, friendship without envy, or beauty without vanity?
Here, where grace is laced with muscle, and strength by gentleness confined. He serves without servility. He has fought without enmity.
There is nothing so powerful, nothing less violent. There is nothing so quick, nothing more patient.
Our past has been borne on his back, all our history is his industry. We are his heirs, He our inheritance.
Ladies and Gentlemen…….
The Horse today is Pocket Power.
Go well and know that we will always love you.
POCKET POWER – ” POCKET ”
The Dream of a Lifetime, was to see him in action.
Every racehorse owner in the world with passion for the grace and power of the Thoroughbred horse would love him, a true character of the turf, with quirks that makes him unique,
The parade, his majestic trot in front of the grandstands, then suddenly the switch of the head, throwing his large frame around as he breaks to the start flowing into a canter, head tucked into his chest. This is ” POCKET”” he is the best of the best ,Absolutely magnificent .
At the start, his jock dismounts to take the weight of his back , only the best carry top weight and “POCKET” is the best of the best. The starter calls the field in line, his jock mounts, he is the last to load, and he rushes the gate ,Why? – ” POCKET” is the best of the best.
He jumps smartly, the race is on, settling midfield with an easy action, and then he turns for home, his jock steadies him, pulls him out from behind the other runners, his stride lengthens, his jock says c’mon boy, the jocks crop flows by his side and you have horsepower in full action, every muscle taught , bold ,gleaming in the sun. That is “POCKET” he is the best of the best.
He hits the line a winner again, head dipped low he now’s how to win, all are jubilant its a sight to behold ,a racing legend of Kenilworth and South Africa ,to see him in action has been lifetime experience to be treasured by all horse lovers , that’s our “POCKET” he is the best of the best.
In paying tribute to Pocket Power I have two major regrets:- firstly that racing did not capitalise on his potential as a name to bring more people to the track until near the end of his career. He was the most likely horse in modern history to use as a marketing tool – not only because he was so great but because he was so great for so long. Secondly I lament that Pocket Power is not an entire for I would give my eye teeth to be able to add him to my portfolio of stallions – what a horse!
His fantastic wins thrice denied my stallions championships in the sire logs through the R10m he added to his sire Jet Master’s earnings, and he also beat my clients and the horses that we chose for them. Yet we still grew to love him as if he were one of ours. It was agony at first and at one time I wished that he’d get sold overseas so that we could all have a chance to win. But as one does, his prowess as a champ made him creep into our hearts and every time he ran, even if we had association with another horse in the race with a sneak of a chance, we acquiesced – to be beaten by Pocket Power was almost an honour. Beating him, as we did with Ivory Trail – just once, was a major triumph. But we had to break a 53 year old record to do that.
I went to the Bass Stable to visit him and was amazed. There he stood unassuming and calm. But there was something about the way he held himself – proud! It made you want to just stand there and admire him and wonder – why? How did this horse get to be so great? What made the difference? We all know that he had niggling issues as a youngster and that he was brought along skilfully by the master of all Cape trainers. But no-one could give him the heart and courage that he possessed. This was inherited and amazingly so. Well done Mike and Candice and everyone associated with him.
Marsh, Arthur and Rina – I know that you never took him for granted. Count your lucky stars – they don’t make them like him often. A once in a lifetime opportunity. Well done to Dan de Wet and to Henry and Pat for Jet Master’s superb statistics.
During his early rise to fame I remember cursing Pocket Power for always being so hard to beat. I even said during an interview that he was just well placed and lucky. How foolish of me to ever think that way. He was that and more! Truly magnificent, majestic, charismatic and so very good for racing. He was our Zenyatta, our Sea Bird, our star! He grew so much into the hearts of anyone with the remotest interest in racing that on the day that his retirement was announced we all stood on the balcony at Kenilworth and wept. I was so embarrassed at the tears in my eyes that I ran down the stairs to compose myself and ran straight into Marsh and started all over again – one could never escape what he meant to us all.
Pocket – I know that Marsh and Arthur and Rina will ensure that you have whatever you need for the rest of your life to be loved and comfortable. My most fervent wish is that you will come back to the track now and then and show us how well you look so that can all share your beauty.
Being associated and having worked with Pocket Power will stay with me as long as I live. He has been a very special part of my life and I will treasure all those special moments. The “Ode to the Horse” is the epitome of what he stands for and I am going to miss him dearly. Never has a horse had such an emotional affect, good and bad on me and my family and it has been a wonderful journey. I bid him farewell and salute him for his brilliance and courage on and off the turf. I know he is going to have the best home with Belinda and we will be able to visit him often!
“For the last 4 years I have been privileged to watch and be a part of the extraordinary journey of Pocket Power. He is undeniably a world class champion and a legend of South Africa.
It won’t be the same without him, but Pocket has earned his rest and we thank him for his massive contribution to thoroughbred racing.”
It has been a great privilege to watch the career of the Mighty Pocket Power. From a stellar 3 year old Winter season to Horse Of The Year. He left us with so many fond memories and just as many spine tingling moments. He is a horse of a generation and Met Day won’t be quite the same without him. Thanks for the memories Champ.
Pocket Power is one of the most amazing horses I have seen on the South African turf. His class and heart truly set him apart, and his fans were legion. His ability to turn certain defeat into victory is legendary, and the turf will be a poorer place without him.
I can’t begin to tell you how sad it is reading on your website today that Pocket will be retired after the Met. Congratulations on the way the Bass team has handled this magnificent champion through the years. Your father’s humility is an inspiration in an industry that is fraught with inflated egos and those that are forever cynical. He’ll always be my all time favourite. Go well Pocket…3 Mets, 4 Queens Plates, A Durban July…let’s see who tops that!
Your achievements has taken racing to a different level, even the non racing people when asked about our beloved game knows only one name “Pocket Power”.
It would be a fitting tribute that you should make a guest appearance annually at the J & B Met to lead your followers out to the track.
May we always be kept informed and updated of your new life.
To the Bass family and Marsh, thank you for keeping him in SA and sharing him with the South African public and for always sharing his well being with us, he is going to be missed and the Durban season is not going to be the same this year without Pocket. It will take an exceptional specimen to ever equal his achievements.
To give off all heart in every performance accompanied by unparalleled success has allowed me the privilege to watch a legend in pocket…
A great run by Pocket finishing 8th. It just shows how he deserves to be in any G1 lineup…..never ever disgraced himself in any of his career starts.
He is a champ and will always be a champ. When he went down past the grand stand in his final goodbye, he looked as beautiful as ever. Standing up and saluting this champ put an instant lump in my throat……and he is not even my horse. Actually, just typing this, there are a few tears welling up in my eyes.
He made and lost me money, but it really isn’t about the money when you have a once in a lifetime horse.
I wish him many long years of enjoying the rest of his life on a beautiful farm and been spoilt rotten…..which he most definitely deserves.
I am 32 years old….and when somebody asks me when i am 70 about any great horses…..Pocket Power will be the first name out of my mouth.
Thank you Pocket Power for making the last 5 years of my life an amazing one…..I salute you.
What can I add to say about Pocket Power, that has not been said about this wonderful horse.
My wife has kissed his nose my Grandchild kissed his nose we all loved him and will never forget him
A horse like no other
A class of his own
And what a team that trained him truly great horse people.
Fred & Wendy Blomkamp
Pocket Power, the people’s beloved champion.
Hearty congratulations to all of the connections of one of the greatest athletes of all time.
To Mike Bass, your knowledge and brilliance, is to be respected and admired. Your comment “he never let you down, although at times you may have let him down” is testimony to your humbleness. Your achievements are amazing and are yet to be matched.
To Carol Bass, I salute you for your loyalty and passion.
To Candice Robinson and Mark Bass, your dedication and sheer class, your parents should be really proud of you.
To Marsh Shirtliff, Arthur and Rina Webber, your passion and love for the industry and your huge investment, brought you such good luck, that most owners of racehorses all dream of. The thrills and joys you had from Pocket ‘s success was wonderful to see and brought a tear to many of us on numerous occasions, especially on Met day, when he ran his last race and did his last canter past. May you have more good luck and success with other horses in the future?
To Robert and Bernard Fayd’herbe and the rest of the team, you all excelled yourselves and your dedication and love for Pocket Power, resulted in his incredible achievements. I am sure you ask yourselves the question, will you ever be blessed with another great horse like him in your lifetime again?
To Henry and Pat Devine, thanks for the wonderful Jetmaster
To Pocket Power, thanks for the wonderful show you put on.
Go well and know that we will miss you and always love you.
Looking back on a great athlete or sportsman’s career there are certain moments when the transition is made from “good” to “wow”.
For me that moment in Pocket’s career came at the Gold Challenge in 2007, his first ever Durban start and a race I will never forget. In the end he lost the race by a whisker, but It was his first run since the Met and what he did from an absolutely hopeless position against world class horses that day was amazing. He went on to confirm his brilliance time and time again.
I also felt privileged to watch Pocket working on a few occasions at Clairwood and Milnerton. There was something about his long stride and low head carriage that always made his poor work companions look ordinary, even if they were Group 1 winners. It was always a joy to watch.
What a pleasure it was to see him in action again, for the last time. He is a true “SOUTH AFRICAN” horse, and will always be remembered. Pocket, we wish you a Long and healthy retirement on the green pastures you are going to. Well done to The Bass Yard for keeping him in such a wonderful condition. May you again be Blessed with another champion horse.
Bill & Carol Strydom