Not forgotten: Pocket Power, Bernardini and Tony Fairbairn

• Remembering racing figures who died this week

Horse Racing Pocket Power
Pocket Power: three-time South African Horse of the Year. Photo: Gold Circle

Pocket Power, 18 South African legend

South Africa: Pocket Power, who died in his paddock on Saturday [July 31] a day short of his 19th birthday, was one of the most successful horses in the modern era of racing in South Africa.

A three-time Equus Horse of the Year (2007-09), the Mike Bass-trained gelding won 20 races altogether before his retirement in 2011. His G1 victories included four consecutive Queen’s Plates and three J&B Mets at Kenilworth, his home track in Cape Town, plus a dead-heat in the Durban July in 2008, when he was giving 11lb to younger filly Dancer’s Daughter.

According to the Sporting Post, Pocket Power was found dead on Saturday morning by Hemel ’n Aarde stud farm owner David Hepburn-Brown. “It was a heart attack and we’re all devastated,” Hepburn-Brown said. 

“Over the years in his retirement he had a special place on the farm. People would come from far and wide to see him and from the farm’s point of view it was great to have him here. He has become part of life at Hemel ’n Aarde and he will be greatly missed.”

• Read more at the Sporting Post website

Bernardini, 18 Preakness winner and US champion 3yo

USA: Bernardini, whose death was announced last week by Darley America, won the Preakness Stakes in 2006 before earning Eclipse Award honours as US champion three-year-old.

Homebred by Sheikh Mohammed at Darley’s Jonabell Farm, where he returned for stallion duties, Bernardini was put down owing to complications from laminitis.

A son of A.P. Indy, Bernardini came to prominence with a brilliant six-race winning streak for trainer Tom Albertrani.

After a pair of early-season victories, he became Sheikh Mohammed’s first winner of any Triple Crown race with a dazzling five-length triumph in the Preakness in the famous maroon-and-white silks; this was the race in which Barbaro broke down in front of the stands on the first turn.

Partnered in all his major wins by Javier Castellano, Bernardini also won the Jim Dandy and Travers Stakes – by nine and seven lengths respectively – before beating older horses by 6¾ lengths in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. On his final outing, he was second to Invasor in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs.

“Bernardini was such a majestic animal,” Albertrani said. “He was very talented, one of the best horses I’ve ever been around. I just feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to train him. He was a star.”

Among his more accomplished progeny were multiple G1 winners Stay Thirsty and To Honor And Serve – both from his first crop – plus Aussie star Boban. He has sired 15 G1 winners all told.

Tony Fairbairn, 87 Racegoers Club founder

GB: Tony Fairbairn, who died on July 22 at the age of 87, was the founder of the Racegoers Club and a leading figure in early attempts to promote racing to a wider audience.

As well as the Racegoers Club – which he set up in 1968 offering entry discounts, stable visits and ownership syndicates – Fairbairn was instrumental in a racing bulletin being introduced into Terry Wogan’s hugely popular Radio 2 morning show, providing the daily ‘Wogan’s Winner’ to the broadcast.

A director of the Racing Information Bureau promotions service, he also set up the Racecall phone service providing commentaries and results and served on the Horseracing Advisory Committee.

Read more at the Racing Post website

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