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A winner. What does a winner really mean?

One of our core services at the International Racing Club is offering our clients sport and racing selections that give them better chances of backing winners. Today’s Newsletter, by IRC co-founder JOAO DA MATA, tells the story of what a winner can actually mean to someone and how we should ALL celebrate every winner in the future.

About three years ago, he writes, while I was working on Sky Channel 415 (At The Races) as the South African Racing Expert on the wonderful Saturday Morning show called “Morning Live”, something happened that I think about often, to this day.

Morning Live anchor, Anthony Ennis, opened an email from a viewer and read it out loud to me: “Joao, we have just had an email from Nick B., who says that he and his son watch the show every Saturday and could you please give us your selections so that I can win some money and buy my son something small, he has not been well lately. Thank you.”

In that instant I replied “NO WAY, I cannot guarantee any of my selections will win today, but what I will do is donate my fee for this shift to Nick and his son.” Which I did.

Over the next few years, I kept in touch with Nick to ask about his welfare and his son’s health. Nick became a friend. Yes, a modern-day friend (Facebook) and, because of Covid-19, we’ve never had a chance to meet in person.

A week ago, Nick sent me a message, a message that broke my heart, a message that after reading it a few times had me crying. I frantically double-checked previous messages that noted “Jack was on the mend” – I was sure I had read that.

But it wouldn’t matter. Nick’s latest message was devastating, and the pain I felt was nothing compared to the pain he and his family must be going through. Little Jack had left us, a victim of the rare infection, meningitis. One of my fans, someone’s son, someone’s grandson, and a fan of horse racing is no longer with us.

This news got me to thinking what a winner really means to me, to my betting friends, and to the breeders, owners, trainers, grooms, jockeys and bookies out there, trying hard every day. Why does it have so many different meanings to different people?

A winner, the simple winner of a race or perhaps a sports match. Most winners have a story. Winners provide joy, some winners provide rewards for hard work, some winners provide rent money, some winners provide houses, yachts or fancy cars. Had Nick not asked me for a winner that Saturday morning three years ago, I would not have had the pleasure of touching someone’s life for the better.

I will always have Jack in my mind, especially every time I back a winner. And I will get up to Chester to see Nick and have a beer. Perhaps we can back a winner or two that day. If we don’t, it won’t matter, because there are more important things in life than backing winners, and, after all, there are betting opportunities every day.

Sharing the joy of being on a winner on the racetrack or the sports field makes you feel like a winner yourself. It’s a natural high, a feeling we can all treasure and aim to repeat not only in the betting arenas of this world, but in our personal lives and interactions with other individuals.

My experience with Nick and Jack meant a lot to me, it gave me an opportunity to give something to another. It made me feel good, I know I did the right thing, and I know that I can enjoy these emotions again by continuing to give of myself.

Our business at the IRC is about sports advice, but there is more. Last week, in our Premium Access Telegram Group, we invited anyone who wanted to come to lunch to let us know if they were able to join us. A handful responded and one of you came along. We enjoyed each other’s company. Let’s make it two next time.

Backing winners (and of course some of them lose) is only a small part of what the IRC stands for. Mine and my co-founders’ vision was to also connect with people. I feel that we don’t do that enough. I will continue to invite our members out and about with us. I will honour Jack’s memory by meeting total strangers and saying hello and perhaps sharing their happiness or sorrow.

Our subscribers are part of a fast-growing club. We aim to be the best value-for-money-club out there. Our bouquet of services and offerings is growing all the time. We thank you for your support and promise you that every selection we make, we take seriously. We know they can’t all win, but if you’re having a tough time reach out, we’re here for you.

We will continue to do our best and find you winners. But aside from that, with little gestures of empathy or support we can all be regular winners in the Game Of Life!

RIP Jack!


Allow me to extend my theme of “winners” with reference to a weekend of much sadness, much joy, surprise and also one-in-a-million event, below:

 COLD SHIVERS: Jockey Warren Kennedy salutes the late Nooresh Juglall. (Pics: Candiese Lenferna)
COLD SHIVERS: Jockey Warren Kennedy salutes the late Nooresh Juglall.
(Pics: Candiese Lenferna)


RESPECT: Durban jockeys bend a knee for Nooresh Juglall.
RESPECT: Durban jockeys bend a knee for Nooresh Juglall.

The sadness first.

Nooresh Juglall, champion jockey of Mauritius, a former champion apprentice and Triple Crown winner in South Africa, succumbed to his injuries after a horrific fall on what looked like a poorly maintained track. Tributes from all over the world have poured in.

The incident itself, and images of Nooresh forwarded among racing industry workers and others afterwards, were shocking to see. He was his usual chirpy self, chatting away and smiling to fellow-jockeys, colleagues, friends and fans, at 5pm on Saturday afternoon before cantering another horse to the start for the 7th Race. At 8pm his face was swollen and blue, his body lifeless. Gone, forever.

Yesterday, in Race 1 at Greyville, jockey Warren Kennedy won on a two-year-old called AJ’s Captain, trained by his wife Barbara and Wayne Badenhorst. Kennedy saluted, looked up and pointed to the sky. He said afterwards: “AJ’s Captain is owned by the Purple Kingdom Syndicate in Mauritius, and the nominee is Ulveen Nagadoo, a close friend of Nooresh Juglall and his family. He told us last night that Nooresh’s full name was ‘Abushek Nooreesh Juglall’ and that ‘AJ’ was short for ‘Abushek Jugall’.

Kennedy added: “I have won Grade 1 races, but to win this for Nooresh, (on a horse carrying his initials) was wonderful. It gave me cold shivers. It’s a sad loss for racing!” Ironic, and so unlikely that AJ’s Captain would win just hours his death. But it happened

On Saturday Leicester Football Club, underdogs against Chelsea, lifted the coveted FA Cup for a first time in their history with a characteristic plucky display, perhaps written in the starts for Brendan Rogers and his men. They are now considered, a “big club”. They came from nowhere and established their strength and character in just five years.

Lastly. If you’d asked any bookmaker to lay you a price about Liverpool’s goalkeeper, Alisson Becker, scoring the winning goal (in essence after the official stoppage time) against West Brom yesterday, and considering that no goalkeeper had scored for Liverpool in their league history, the bookie would probably have laid you a million-to-one.

But it happened. Alisson ran up from his post to the opposing goalbox in the 15s he had, to do it. He came to stand on precisely the right spot and the ball came flying at him immediately. He hardly moved his body, it landed on his head and he flicked it into the net!

“There are things in life that one just cannot explain,” an astonished Alisson said afterwards. Coach Jurgen Klopp, dumbstruck, added: “This is crazy, absolute madness!”

The thing is: These kind of moments come around every day, around us, sometimes in our presence. I am no New Ager, but when Quantum Physics Guru Deepak Chopra states his single Life Truth to be, “Absolutely Anything Is Possible”, he is 100 percent right. We’ve had more than enough evidence in a single weekend.

If the wave of life crashes unexpectedly over you in a sad and destructive way, like it did for Jack and Nooresh, or if you’re overwhelmed with unexpected grace and glory, make sure that you choose to be a “Winner”, as many times over as you can, and in as many ways as you can, before Alisson Becker’s ‘inexplicable’ occurrence comes flying in your direction.

Understand there are no patterns, no rules and no limits, but no safeguards either. Give of yourself to others. Today may be your last chance to do so!  -IRC.

*The IRC will be contributing to Jack B.’s funeral costs.

*Go to to donate to a charity that aims to defeat meningitis by 2030.


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