SA TROTS - Sometimes the racing gods can be kind

Sometimes the racing gods can be kind.

And that’s just how it looks with the emergence of brilliant two-year-old pacer Rupert Ross.

He could be the ultimate legacy for the late Mark Webster, one of SA’s top harness horsemen for almost 40 years who lost a long battle with cancer last December at just 58 years of age.

“It was one of Mark’s last wishes for this horse to be named Rupert Ross, after his father, Rupert Ross Webster,” Mark’s wife, Carolyn, said.

“They weren’t going to approve the name because there’s an author with that name, but someone wrote requesting special permission and it was granted.”

Mark Webster-bred Rupert Ross, out of his former talented race mare Closure. He is owned by his daughter, Laura and trained by his good mate, Lance Holberton.

“That was another wish of Mark’s, that Lance trains the horse. They always got along so well and had so much banter down around the stables,” Carolyn said.

You can imagine the excitement and emotion when Rupert Ross started showing plenty of talent on the training track then delivered on debut at the races with a stunning 16m win in a heat of the Kindergarten (2YO) series at Globe Derby last Saturday week.

“I was there to see him. I had tears, Lance had tears, it was really special. Mark had the best seat in the house for is,” Carolyn said.

“Unfortunately, Laura is a photographer and had to work that night and our son, Anthony, had one of his best mate’s weddings, but maybe we’ll all be there together for his next start.”

That will be in the Kindergarten final at Globe Derby on Saturday night.

“It’s so special for us all to have this horse come along as a memory to Mark. He would’ve been absolutely rapt the other night. You wait all your life for a horse like him, there’s a long way to go, but he looks so exciting,” Carolyn said.

“Losing Mark was a big blow. We’re all definitely lost without him. To have this horse to remember him by, not just us but the harness industry, is really nice.”

Holberton fought back tears as he recalled how much Rupert Ross’ debut win meant to him.

“Mark was so good to me, personally and professionally and to have this chance to pay and he and Carolyn back in some way is so special,” he said.

“It was such an emotional night for us all, but in a good way.”

Excitingly, Holberton insists Rupert Ross’ debut win should just be a hint of things to come.

“I’ve had some beautiful horses over the years, but he’s right up there. He’s a special animal. He is potentially the best horse I’ve trained,” he said.

But it didn’t start that way.

“No, when he first entered the stable I didn’t hold much hope for him,” Holberton said. “Then one day we were in the paddock he took off and I feared he was going to crash into a tree, but at the last minute he swerved and missed it.

“From then on, he left me astounded with his potential, he really turned the corner.”

The Kindergarten Stakes is just part of SA‘s huge “finals” night at Globe Derby on Saturday, which also features the SA Pacing Cup, Trotters’ Cup and SA Pacing Derby.

Story by Adam Hamilton

Photo by : caughtbyfisch