By TONY WHITE
RACEHORSE ownership in the Sport of Kings is not the exclusive domain of the rich and famous.
These days with partnerships and syndications, people from all walks in life can enjoy the exhilaration of winning and the frustrations that are part and parcel of ownership.
Patience in racing is a virtue.
Take for instance the connections of four-year-old mare, Maria, trained by Gordon Yorke at Port Macquarie.
Prior to Maria starting in the XXXX Gold Maiden Hcp (1500m) at Grafton yesterday, the mare had raced on 21 occasions without winning. Fortunately the owners' patience was rewarded when Maria beat Sewon and Great Mate and earned $4200, taking her record to one win and seven placings from 22 outings.
"The monkey's finally off her back," one stable insider said.
For Coffs Harbour-based owners Peter Wood and Mick O'Neill, who part-owns the Coramba Hotel, Lady Luck has been well and truly by their side.
The pair along with Ross White and Grafton fencing contractor Mark Hughes race Ramraja, trained by successful Brett Bellamy at Coffs Harbour, who won the South Grafton Ex-Servicemen's Club Maiden (1100m).
Wood and O'Neill, also part-owners of Bellamy's top sprinter Boy's Talk, also race Tigre D'Or, winner of the Troy Carter Plumbing Plate (1100m) yesterday.
Ramraja is a rising five-year-old gelding who has made it to the racetrack just six times and until yesterday hadn't won in six starts.
"He's taken a long while to get going, the owners have been very patient," Bellamy said.
Ramraja had been a trainer's nightmare until recently.
"The boys bought him from a bloodstock agent and when he first came to me he was a real pain, a headache horse to train," Bellamy said.
"He had very few manners. He'd buck and rear and duck off at every crossing and gap.
"Now he's starting to mend his ways. Finally the owners are getting a return on their money."
Bellamy described Ramraja as 'a nervous horse' but now he's broken through he was hopeful of more wins over longer distances.
Part-owner Hughes, who was raised in Maitland, teamed up with the other owners over a few drinks at the Coramba Hotel.
"I owned a couple of horses back in the 1980s and had one winner," Hughes said.
"There's a bit of racing history in my family. My brother Jimmy was apprenticed to the great Harry Plant at Randwick."
El Loupe, trained by John Shelton and owned by Jack and Margaret Donnelly, is another example of patience.
Ridden perfectly by Stephen Traecey, El Loupe won the Tursa Employment & Training Hcp (1000m), to record just his second win in 18 starts.
"He's been knocking on the door," Shelton said of the gelding's eight previous placings.
"Wide barriers haven't helped him but today he drew well and everything went right for him."
And the patient owners.