STAWELL - What started as a way to keep a few football friends together post playing days has finally reaped rewards.
Robert Holmes, Mark Stainsby, Tim Williams, Richard Blakey, Darryn Jenkinson, Marcus Norton and Peter Norton are members of the Warriors Racing Syndicate who have a share in the Darren Weir-trained New Zealand-bred galloper Lord of Brazil.
Lord of Brazil has been extremely successful of late, with three wins from his last four starts and the six year old also won the Mildura Cup in August last year.
The Warriors Racing Syndicate was formed 15 years ago and involved up to 14 ex-footballers who entered the world of horse racing by buying a share in trotters and paces.
Current member Mark Stainsby takes up the story:
"We switched to gallops five or six years ago and had a couple of years off between harness and gallops to let the bank build up which enabled us to purchase a horse with Darren Weir, an ex-local trainer.
"Unfortunately Darren informed us that this horse was not going to be any good and he offered us a share into Lord of Brazil."
Lord of Brazil started his career as a four year old and hasn't looked back, only missing out on a place four times in 22 starts to earn over $350,000 in stakes.
The gelding has exceeded the wildest dreams of this small group of good friends.
"We were happy just to get a win at Casterton," Mr Stainsby said.
"Then he won the Mildura Cup and it took off from there."
Lord of Brazil went on to claim the $60,000 Westag Kubota Gold Nugget Handicap at Ballarat, however his biggest win to date occurred at Flemington on Oaks Day when jockey Steven Arnold guided him to victory in the Grazia Ultimate Style Handicap.
"The highlight was the Oaks Day win," Mr Stainsby said.
"Since then, he's won another two and has been paying reasonable odds.
"Now he has to get up in weights and we've got to look for the right race."
Mr Stainsby was full of praise for Lord of Brazil's trainer Darren Weir and the team at Warrnambool who look after him.
"Darren's always had a high opinion of the horse, he's a tough horse to train I believe," he said.
"The guys do a fantastic job refreshing him. He hasn't had a spell since May."
Weir echoed Mr Stainsby's sentiments.
"He's been a good horse and has had plenty of time to develop," Weir said.
"We bought him from New Zealand for not much money, started him off as a four year old and he has showed he was worth keeping."
When asked about Lord of Brazil's lack of spells, Weir was not worried.
"He seems to run well that way. He spends most of his time down at the beach and had a chip taken out of his fetlock (a projection on the lower part of a leg behind and above a horse's hoof) which was an issue.
"The beach helped him recover from that."
The Warriors Racing Syndicate members regularly attend meetings together with their families to cheer on Lord of Brazil.
Lord of Brazil will now race in the Group (3) Carlyon Cup over 1600 metres at Caulfield next Saturday, February 9.