Deniliquin Pastoral Times
A special win
It was an emotional moment when Wheels of Courage was first past the post at Morphettville racecourse on Saturday.
The three year-old bay gelding was named in honour of Deniliquin’s David ‘Wheels’ Whelan, who passed away on October 11 2020 after a battle with cancer.
The horse is owned by a syndicate of 60 people, most of whom knew Wheels personally.
The Morphettville (Adelaide) race was Wheels of Courage’s first win, ridden by Ryan Hurdle and defeating Tavikat in the $40,250 3up Maiden Plate.
The syndicate originally planned to name the horse Wheels, however the name was already in use. So when ‘Wheels of Courage’ was suggested, the group agreed it had a nice ring to it.
‘‘Wheels (David Whelan) was a very popular and much loved friend of many Deni people who played sport or worked with him, or knew him through other social circles,’’ friend and syndicate member Greg Danckert said.
When Wheels was alive, the group would gather on weekends for a game of golf to share quality time together.
It was on one of these occasions the idea to get together a dozen Deniliquin people to part-own the horse was sparked.
To their surprise, about 40 people jumped on board originally, and the group now totals 60 Deniliquin and ex-Deniliquin people.
‘‘The idea was purchasing the horse for
Wheels to race with us and go to the races (together) and be a part of it,’’ Danckert said.
‘‘When he died it became a reason to go to the races and be together for him.’’
Wheels of Courage’s sire is called Kiss and Make Up, and is of dam Elle.
Kiss and Make Up is the race horse famous for getting trainer Gai Waterhouse and racehorse owner John Singleton back together after an infamous dispute in 2013.
There was a lot of emotion in the air at The Globe, the Deniliquin Golf Club, and across Deniliquin homes as members of the group watched their horse cross the finish line on Saturday.
‘‘It was amazing talking to so many people on the weekend after Wheels won, and finding out they all had a little bet on him and helped cheer him home,’’ Danckert said.
‘‘It wasn’t about people winning money though, it was about getting together and thinking of him.’’
Danckert said it was ‘‘wonderful’’ for the horse to win a race and for Wheels’ family — wife Tracey and sons Blair and Josh — to be able to see it.
‘‘It is great that the horse is giving everyone involved a lot of joy, and keeping that connection going with the fond memories everyone has of Wheels.
‘‘The dream is, hopefully when restrictions ease, that Tracey, Josh, Blair and all the syndicate members and their partners can attend a race meeting and watch Wheels of Courage race in person.’’
Trainers Gordon Richards and Damien Moyle have ‘‘a high opinion of the ability of the horse’’ and are proud to be training the horse with so much history behind it.