Jockey Marlon Dolendo won the 2009 Lismore Cup aboard Hecentadove.
Jockey Marlon Dolendo won the 2009 Lismore Cup aboard Hecentadove.

Top jockey seriously ill

NORTHERN Rivers racing circles are in shock following revelations that premiership-leading jockey Marlon Dolendo is suffering a life-threatening illness.

A report in a Sydney newspaper yesterday stated the Port Macquarie-based rider was undergoing dialysis after his kidneys stopped functioning and he may be in urgent need of a transplant.

After riding at the meeting on his home track on December 13 the jockey is believed to have felt off-colour and medical tests later revealed his condition.

Since the current season began on August 1, Dolendo has ridden 30 winners in NSW, 16 of them in the NRRA, to be leading the jockey’s premiership, two ahead of defending champion Raymond Spokes of Coffs Harbour.

Dolendo last won the title in the 2008-09 season.

Born in the Philippines, the jockey served his apprenticeship under TJ Smith at Randwick and rode hundreds of winners on city and provincial tracks.

He switched to the North Coast during the 1990s and has since remained among the first-choice riders for most prominent stables with a special affiliation with the powerful Neil Godbolt stable.

Acknowledged as a very funny character and lover of practical jokes, the bandana-wearing rider and his wife, Mary-Grace, have two children.

During a winning day at the Coffs Harbour races earlier in the year, Dolendo told The Coffs Coast Advocate he had his future already mapped out.

“I can see myself riding for another five years or so until the family is set up and then I’ll probably consider moving back to where I was born,” he said.

“Then, if the right opportunities are there, I wouldn’t mind having a crack at breaking into the scene at Singapore or Hong Kong.”

Meanwhile, the local industry suffered a double blow yesterday when meetings at Bowraville and Ballina both fell foul of the weather.

While the meeting at Bowraville was under a cloud for most of the week, there were hopes the northern venue would be able to race.

But more than 100mm of rain in the 36 hours leading up to the meeting soon put an end to that.

Coffs Harbour is already rated a heavy 8 for next Thursday’s Solar and Bamboo Direct TAB meeting in aid of junior surf lifesaving.

CEO Russ Atkinson had his fingers crossed the weather will clear and if the eight-race card is completed it will be only the second time in the association during a rain-savaged December.

“This is a stand-alone meeting in NSW for the club and will offer holidaymakers a great chance to see some quality country horses in action,” he said.

“Our chairman Alan Johnson said he was delighted with the quality of the fields and looked forward to this flowing on to the rest of the club’s summer carnival.

“We have races on New Year’s Day and of course the annual Pink Silks Day on Sunday, January 9.

“For Thursday we had 65 local horses nominated with 48 accepting, making it a busy day for all.”

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