Day At The Track

On the Rail with Sydney Weaver - Smolda

04:28 AM 08 Jan 2019 NZDT
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Harness racing Sydney Weaver, harness racing
Marcus Kirkwood, co-owner and author of "Our Mate Smolda" with Sydney Weaver at Miracle Mile Night
Lisa Weaver photo
Sydney Weaver hold her special edition of "Our Mate Smolda"
Lisa Weaver photo

Every horse has the dream of writing their name in the history books, and some accomplish just that. But in recent years, there was one special Australasian pacer who was so captivating on the track and also captivated the hearts of so many off the track that he was simply too memorable for a place in just the history books.

The only fitting testament to his greatness was for him to have his very own book. So, his co-owner Marcus Kirkwood, a Hunter Valley resident in Australia, set out to do just that.

Gathering some of Smolda’s best mates who were all eager to tell their stories of the champion, who to them was a friend more than a horse, a book quickly began to take shape. Marcus’s dream of having a book about Smolda was becoming a reality.  In the end, this book has not one author, but many; making it truly one of a kind.

You are probably wondering how I fit into this story about a story. Well, I became friends with Marcus through social media. After many messages via Twitter, Marcus and I met in person when I attended the prestigious Miracle Mile in 2016, in which Smolda was a contender, as a part of my trip to Australia. It was nice to finally be able to put a face to the name. 

After that, we remained connected through social media. When he told me about the idea for a book about Smolda I thought it was a great idea. When he told me how it was going to be written by people who were friends of Smolda,  I thought it was an even better idea. Who better to tell the story of a champion than the best friends of the champion. 

One day I received a message from Marcus giving me an update on his horses and how the idea of writing a book about Smolda was getting lots of positive feedback from industry participants he had been talking to. Reading this message, I was very happy for him. This is when the message took a surprising turn, which had me at a loss for words. Marcus asked me if I would be interested in contributing to Smolda’s story.

As my fingers hovered over my keyboard  I tried to find the right words to say. I felt so honoured to be asked that I was not sure what words to use that would fully convey how honoured I truly felt.    

I wrote back to Marcus expressing how grateful I felt that he asked me, but I mentioned that I was concerned about how much I would be able to contribute as I had only had the pleasure of watching Smolda race in person on one occasion.

Nevertheless, I got to work as I waited for a response. Thinking back to my time of meeting Marcus and the night of the Miracle Mile.  Soon Marcus responded to my concern and told me told not to worry.

That is when I had a realization, which had a profound effect on me, and the piece I was working on. I realized that when it comes to Smolda and me, like in many friendships the length of time you have known one another is not always the most important aspect, it is about how close you become in a short amount of time. 

With this in mind, I had a new source of inspiration. I was a friend of Smolda and Smolda gave me Marcus as a friend. Smolda touched my life in more ways than I previously realized. His greatness touched my life beyond watching him race; without him, Marcus and I would not have the friendship we do.

Soon, a short chapter lay before me. Writing the chapter provided me with great joy and a chance to reflect on what Smolda and Marcus meant to me. As I typed the last words, I was filled with a greater sense of appreciation of not only of the champion racehorse Smolda was but what he meant to me on a personal level and the true friend I gained through him. 

Marcus kept me updated on how the book was progressing. Then one day I got a message saying that it was complete! I was so happy for Marcus and Smolda, and I felt truly honoured to have been included. 

Marcus kindly put a copy in the post for me. It arrived at my home address while I was away at university. My mom sent me a message to say it had arrived and tucked the precious package away until I came home for Christmas break a few weeks later.

With a slit to the envelope, I pulled out the special contents. On the front cover in a stunning colour photo was Smolda,  and in a charming font, it read Our Mate Smolda and I was in awe. I opened the front cover to heartwarming surprise. On the first page, Marcus had inscribed it to me. This made an already cherished gift even more of a treasure.

 I delicately turn the pages, stopping to admire the photos which were woven throughout the book. Then my eyes fell on the page that had my name on it.

Seeing my name in print, as a part of a  unique collection was truly surreal. I knew what I had written just a few months prior, but seeing those same words as a chapter, complete with photographs made it more overwhelming, real and, it ‘hit home for me’.  Even after a minute or so, a part of me remained in disbelief.

Here is my writing in with some of the greatest people in the sport of harness racing. They were names I look up to, and most of them I only by association or through social media, or I met them once or twice. But, one horse… one common friend brought us all together, and his name was Smolda.

But my story is not about me. It is about Smolda and his everlasting legacy. To an outsider who does not know who Smolda is, this story, which in a way is his biography, offers a window back in time to experience his greatness.

To those who knew him best and worked with him every day, this serves as a reminder of the unforgettable times and accomplishments they shared over the years.

To those who were there in the grandstands when he raced, it acts as an opportunity to reminisce about memories made not so long ago. No matter who you are or how you are connected to Smolda, this collection of anecdotes can mean something to you.

That is why it so precious, everyone can still be a part of his legacy if they are not already. The unique multi-perspective biography which tells the life of Smolda ensures everyone can be a part of his journey to greatness and beyond.

Just how they say many hands make light work, it takes many hands, and hearts to write a wonderful book about a remarkable pacer.

This story is one that everyone who loves harness racing should read, at least once. To learn more about Smolda and his book, or to purchase a copy and become a part of his legacy, please visit: https://www.ourmatesmolda.com.au/product/our-mate-smolda/  

By Sydney Weaver, for Harnesslink

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