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The Bridget Stidolph-trained Oceans Pride (Curved Ball) would not have made many waves among the racing community when finishing a 2,75 length second in a maiden plate over 1600m on March 10 under Gavin Lerena.

However, the connections would have had a whole different opinion and would not have minded that “Freight Train” had just been beaten for the 67th time in 67 starts.

The big seven-year-old bay mare is “The Queen” of the yard and spoilt rotten by everybody, especially as she was the first horse brought into Bridget’s Randjesfontein operation.

It was in fact her sixth runner up finish and her 28th place, which represents 41% of her starts.

This leased Curve Ball mare from Bush Hill Stud has thus paid her way with earnings of R259,575.

She does particularly well if able to find the inside rail down the straight as she runs on resolutely.

Doting owner Aly Wynne said she had warned jockeys their legs might scrape the paint off the rails.

She added, “But she is the boss out their in her races and if  she gets interfered with she will dig her toes in.” 

She continued said, “She has the biggest heart and is as honest as the day is long. She is a big girl, that is how she got her name ‘freight train’, and she is a bit quirky. But she is sound and loves running. She gets bored if she doesn’t run, so she works every day. I think she has run more races than some of the jockeys who ride her have ridden! She is a special girl and I am lucky to have her.”

The big bay is also admired for her big rump and the power emanating from there has enabled her to run all those places, usually at big prices. In fact she has only started in single figures nine times in her career. 

Oceans Pride knows she is special and likes to be fussed over.

Her trainer Sean Patterson (Bridget travels between her Zimbabwe yard and Randjesfontein) often joins her in her stable for a siesta, lying on the straw next to her during “chill time”
Aly said, “They have such a special bond.” 

She continued, “She clicks with the jockeys who spoil her. I must mention Gavin Lerena from her last start because I had never before seen a jockey click with her so fast. He used no stick and rode her home. She strode out comfortably and was happy with second. She said, ‘Mom will like that!’ But I must give a lot of credit to Gavin.”

Oceans Pride survived a traumatic incident about a year ago and luckily does not appear to bear any mental scars.

She was attacked by Feral dogs.  

The groom realised quickly he had to let her go and she was able to escape.

Sean rushed out to rescue her after she had bolted and she was heading for the main boom gate near the major Olifantsfontein Road when he saw her.

Upon calling her she turned around and ran to him.

She only suffered a split on her shoulder after slipping on a tar road and there is no sign of any scar a year later.

Bridget Stidolph learnt the ropes from the many-times Zimbabwean champion trainer Lisa Harris to whom she was assistant. 

She took out her own license at the beginning of 2015 and has had much success since.

It took her just three years to win Zimbabwe’s biggest race, The Castle Tankard, and she had three of the first four past the post that year in 2018, Roman Discent (Dynasty), Simona (Gimmethegreenlight) and Mathematician (Black Minnaloushe). 

The following year she ran one-two in the Tankard with Peggson (jay Peg) and Leven Point (Fort Wood).

The Stidolph-trained Simona became the first horse to win the Ok Grand Challenge back to back.

Bridget has also won the other of Zimbabwe’s biggest races, the Republic Cup, with Mathematician among other big race successes.

In about 2017 she started a small South African training operation from the old Oppenheimer plot at Randjesfontein which has about 22 stables.

It is a friends and family affair.

Sean Patterson does the training and riding and Reid Patterson does the feeding.

Peter Patterson, Sean’s father and a former stipendiary steward, keeps them informed on the rules.

Sean also helps run “the Bayshore Barn” on the premises with his mother Sharon and father Peter. Bayshore was one of the best horses Sharon owned and the Bayshore Barn is a service for  bringing up and rehabilitating horses.

Aly came out for a holiday a while back from Australia but is still here and her job is to provide all the TLC.

This crew all grew up together in Zimbabwe and are in constant communication with Bridget.

Aly said, “It is all based on transparency, nobody does anything without Bridget or anybody else knowing and it works well.”    

The horses all enjoy their walk on the bridal path to the Randjesfontein Training Centre tracks in the mornings. 

Oceans Pride is set to run next in an Apprentice race.

Bridget’s South African yard has just received a boost as one of Zimbabwe’s former champion owners Peter Moor has send them a few horses from the recent sales.

Aly’s father used to race with Moor.

She managed to get her father’s colours back after 30 years and was thrilled for the family to have done so. 

They are the Sky blue, navy maltese cross and cap that Oceans Prides race under.

She has shares in two other horses in the yard who run in the same colours i.e. Samoa (Global One), aka “Sammy Speed Machine”, and Mercer Girl (Mambo In Seattle) aka “Pocket Rocket”. 

Picture: Ocean’s Pride looking like she has not had a run after her second place finish on March 10 attended to by her trainer and friend Sean Patterson (Supplied).