AT THE risk of initiating a political debate, only those who work within an equine industry can appreciate how deeply the horses are cherished.
The bond between ‘man and beast’ is a treasured relationship equally enjoyed by the two and four-legged participants.
A fine example of the mutual respect is the Lighthorsemen who risked their lives through dehydration in desert conditions by giving some of their limited water supply – little more than a canteen per rider – to their trusty mounts.
That same kindred connection can fill a void in time of grief as astute horseman Greg Scholefield sadly, yet gratefully, discovered.
In May 2017 Scholefield was left devastated by the sudden death of his wife of 45 years, Vicki.
On a normal day going about his duties at their property, Scholefield came into the house for lunch, and when unable to locate Vicki, he made the assumption “she’d gone to town.”
“I was up in shed doing some work and came in house for lunch,” Scholefield said. “I called her a few times but when she didn’t answer I just thought she’d gone to town.”
To Scholefield’s heartache the situation wasn’t that simple, with Vicki lying semi-conscious on the floor.
“I started to hear a murmur and when I went looking to see what was happening I found her on the floor,” Scholefield explained. “I got an ambulance for her and she was taken to the hospital but passed away soon after with bleeding on the brain.
“All the years together you get used to one another and take a lot for granted then all of a sudden that person is not there and it’s a major blow.
“I met her while I was in the National Service around 1970 and we got married in 1972. We have one boy, Luke, who lives in San Francisco and works for Google.
“I’m glad I retired a few years earlier and we spent that little more time together, but life can be cruel!”
Initially finding himself incapable of performing his usual routine, Scholefield turned to his horses to assist with the grief.
“The horses gave me a reason to wake up….they still do,” Scholefield said. “You’ve got to have faith and keep pushing on, but it’s the horses and their company which keeps me going.
“Not only do I enjoy having them around the place, they are the reason I get out to the tracks and socialise instead of sitting at home.
“There are great people in harness racing, who outweigh the dummies, and I enjoy getting to the tracks to catch up with them.
“It’s the horses which give me that too.”
At Globe Derby tomorrow night Scholefield and his beloved stable runners could become the toast of the town when they tackle a pair of South Australia’s premier events.
Labella Rock will launch Scholefield’s feature attack when she searches for a rare victory in the South Australia Derby.
As the only filly in the Blue Riband, Labella Rock is aiming to become the seventh member of the ‘fairer sex’ to capture the classic since its inception in 1938.
Carol Dillon was the ground breaker in 1954, with Medorina matching the feat the next year, followed by Pearl Queen (’57), Fiery Miss (’62), No Frolicking (’96) and CC Chevron in 2015.
Making life extremely difficult for the daughter of Pet Rock is an outside of the second row draw.
“Her draw is shocking,” Scholefield said. “It puts her in a lot of bother.
“I am pleased with the way she is going and have no doubt she can surprise a few of them, but it’ll be hard to see her winning from there.”
Scholefield’s stable star Emain Macha will then compete in the main event – the prestigious South Australia Cup.
Clearly the best chance of breaking the interstate stranglehold on the time honoured feature, Emain Macha will come from gate six.
Ryans Day was the last local to have his name etched on the honour roll after completing an upset in 1999.
Emain Macha heads into the feature as the winner of his last four starts, including the Wedderburn Cup a fortnight ago.
“I’m confident enough with him,” Scholefield said. “He has pretty much had a perfect preparation and is feeling terrific.
“He is healthy, happy and ready to go…now we just need the right run from a tricky draw.”
As much as he would be thrilled to see both or either make their way into the winners’ circle, Scholefield stated he will be happy with “solid” performances and their company on the long trip home!
“Of course I would love to see them win, but no matter what I’m sure I will be proud of their effort,” Scholefield said.
“Win, lose or draw, they will still be the reason I wake up on Sunday morning.”