You wouldn’t read about it.
If you did you almost certainly wouldn’t believe it.
Forty-seven losses on the trot.
There are maidens, there are old maidens and then there was Marikoriko.
Trained at Tatura by Belinda Dunn the Marikoriko saga started at Echuca on February 12.
With a solid 10th out of 11 over 1200 m.
Add it up — four years, 47 starts and absolutely no wins.
Yet Dunn, a part owner as well as trainer, persisted. She never, she claimed post-race Monday at Murtoa, doubted her rising seven-year-old mare would eventually win a race.
After all, when you start in 48 of them, surely the odds would eventually fall in your favour, or that you might just do a Bradbury and through some sporting freak opportunity, end up in front.
So you can imagine the disbelief in the course caller’s voice on Monday when he said the ultimate bridesmaid had been backed into favouritism for the $20,700 Super Vobis Maiden over 2050 m.
It almost sounded as if he was doing his best not to laugh.
But off the back of the mare’s second-place at Seymour on a soft six in mid June he was prepared to suggest if Marikoriko was “ever going to win a race, this was it”.
In her first eight races Marikoriko managed one placing — a third at Bendigo.
In 2017, 10 starts down the track that season, Marikoriko dead-heated for second. She had to be close to that first win.
Then there were a few photo finishes and in true Marikoriko style, she lost every one of them.’
Dunn admitted Marikoriko kept going around because “she is one of the family”.
She said her connection with the hapless mare goes back to the day she was born.
“I delivered her,” Dunn said.
“I didn’t breed her, but I have looked after her from her first breath.”
Which helps explain why Dunn’s antics attracted so much attention as Marikoriko finally did the impossible on Monday and won her first race.
Excited yes, surprised no.
“We were jumping up and down watching her come down the straight; I didn’t get my clothes off, but it was close, I’m telling you,” Dunn said with a laugh.
“Her last start at Seymour on a soft 6 was really good, but it had been almost a month ago, so she trialled at Tat the other day and won that by more than half the straight.”
Which was nothing compared with Monday, when the mare led from go to whoa, winning by a staggering 8.8 lengths.
One of Victorian bush racing’s longest stories in the making had finally paid off — except for Dunn. She doesn’t, she confessed post race, have a TAB account, so did not get on when her horse was paying almost $5 before starting at $3.80.
Won a race with no need for the camera, no chance of a protest to steal the moment, nothing.
With Lachlan King in the saddle the race could not have been more perfectly run if it had been Winx in the starting gate not the laughing stock of bush racing.
When the starter let them go, Marikoriko used her natural gate speed to take over the running, bowled along in front at a pretty good pace and then as the field swung around the bend and into the straight, King stuck with the running rail, stole a length or two and simply let her rip.
And with every stride Marikoriko put more air between her and the other 10 horses.
It was a breathtaking win by any standard — an unbelievable one by Marikoriko’s track record.
“You could not believe a horse could have that many runs and still be a maiden,” she said.
“But she has always looked the part and she has been in too many photo finishes.”
For a horse without a win, Marikoriko has amassed more than $72,000 in prizemoney (including Monday’s $11,338 for the win).
“The writing had been on the wall after that Seymour run and the trial, but the way she finally did it was simply amazing,” Dunn said.
“She has always had good gate speed, but she showed a serious turn of foot in the straight when she ran away with it all.
“I knew she was destined to win a few and after this run I think those wins might start coming now.”
Running mostly in Super Vobis events, Dunn is now targeting a 0-58BM on another country track, which is where she is pretty sure Marikoriko will complete her career.
She doesn’t even see a midweek or Friday night run that would work for the horse so “it’s a going to be a BM0-58 and I reckon she will do well in that class and now she finally has a win under her belt we’re hoping she will keep on going.
“She has done well at 2000 m and 2200 m, but I reckon that will be her limit, even a 2400 m is too much.”
Dunn also needed to show a turn of foot of her own after the race when she discovered her husband was already thinking about investing in some new cattle for their mixed farm.
She talked him out of that and the next thing Dunn knew, he was back on the internet and had tracked down another horse they could buy instead.
“Of course, it could have been at Benalla, or Seymour or even Nagambie,” she said.
“No, this horse is in Queensland.”
Dunn only has a small team in work as the farm normally comes first, but the seven horses she is currently racing tend to get the most attention on the property.
“We have big stables and the horses all have a paddock to run in during the day; they are very happy to be here,” she said.
Just not as happy as Dunn was after Monday's race ended and the future opened (albeit a little late in life) for her favourite no-hoper.
Ironically, the horse that finished second behind (way behind) Marioriko was Daryl Archard’s Court Painter, whose home track is Echuca — where the Marikoriko story began.