Passionate KZN-based owner Tony Jelinski has loved greys since his childhood days of riding a pony called Royal Velvet.
Tony’s long winning drought was ended by the grey Strawberry Bear back in July and he is now excited about this promising three-year-old, who was the winning runner of his second ever career exacta on Sunday at Hollywoodbets Greyville.
He had three runners in one race for the first time in his ownership career, Strawberry Bear, Global Dollar and Captain Spirit.
They all ran in his yellow and black colours and the race turned into a thrilling tussle involving Strawberry Bear, Global Dollar, the favourite Giambattista and Crested Eagle, and they finished in that order.
In July this year at Hollywoodbets Scottsville, Strawberry Bear, a strapping grey colt by Flying The Flag, provided him with his first winner for over five years.
Tony is not the only one in KZN who is anticipating a good career for this colt.
He said, “We decided before Sunday’s race that win, lose or draw we would geld him afterwards. I am convinced his below par run in the Model Man Mile was because there was a filly in the race!”
He said he was not a “coltish” horse at all and had a lovely temperament. He is a horse one can stand next to and pat. However, the gelding has become necessary because he is becoming a bit heavy and he also sometimes loses his focus at track when the fillies are around.
Tony lives by the motto “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and he recognises Strawberry Bear’s best trip so far has been shown to be 1200m to 1400m, so the yard plan to stick to those distances for the time being.
He continued, “To get the exacta was unbelievable. He is still a big baby and was running all over the place so I think the gelding can only improve him in leaps and bounds. He is beautiful, big and strong, he’s something else and I’m very excited about this horse.”
He is also very pleased with Global Dollar, who has had fives runs for a win, a second and a fourth.
Tony’s only other career exacta was in a race won by the Garth Puller-trained Rio De La Plata at Scottsville in 2015.
Tony owns Strawberry Bear together with Sterling Miller.
He owns Global Dollar and another recent winner of his, Captain Spirit, together with Messrs W S Geyser, B Kritzinger & Cara Steward.
Those three, all trained by the Mike Miller yard, have won him four races this season.
He has ten horses altogether at the moment, eight with Miller and two with Dennis Drier.
However, he views racing as much more than just about the racing itself, so is particularly chuffed to have joined the Miller yard.
The Millers apparently live up to the oft-quoted expression that racing is a lifestyle experience.
Tony said, “We are like a big family. We go to the Sales together and afterwards, for example, all attend the Barnyard Theatre. Recently we all went on a houseboat trip to Jozini (where Tony won the Tiger Fish championships easing up). We have all been to the rugby together too. We are going up to the sales in Jo’burg and Sterling has organised tickets for a boxing evening. I am having a purple patch at the moment but it is the socialising which has made it such a wonderful season.”
Tony is thoroughly enjoying his horses at present and also chuckled when reflecting on how the adage about the “loneliness of losing” had been emphasised last weekend.
He said, “I did not receive one whatsapp at the races during my long drought, but after Sunday’s exacta I counted 55 in-coming messages!”
Picture Below: Strawberry Bear just gets up to beat his stable companion Global Dollar (Candiese Lenferna).