Match Winner, trained by Sharon Patterson and ridden by Stanley Eyden, was Zimbabwe’s second Triple Crown winner – in 1986.
The Nissr (GB) colt was bred by Geoff Armitage of Sandown Stud, in Zimbabwe, and sold for Z$10 000.
Sharon describes Match Winner as a small horse (15.2hh) with the heart of a lion. “When Peter Moor first saw the colt, he said I had bought him a bush pony. I told him he wasn’t allowed to see him for three months.
“In December 1985, after Match Winner won his second start, I predicted to Peter that his colt would win the Triple Crown.”
Sharon took over Roy Magner’s yard in 1983 when Roy (whom Sharon has described as her mentor) headed south.
When Match Winner won the Triple Crown and the 1986 Tankard, Sharon was in her second season of training and had already tasted success, having won the 1984 Castle Tankard and the 1985 Schweppes Gold Cup.
Match Winner won 7 races for Sharon (including the Castle Tankard as a three-year-old). He then moved to Roy Magner at The Vaal and ran second to Enchanted Garden in the John Skeaping Trophy – his first South African start. A fourth to Model Man in the Barclays (Gr 1) followed.
“Unfortunately,” says Sharon, “Match Winner only had 6 starts in South Africa before the awful Equine Flu virus hit and racing was abandoned for several months. We brought him back to Zimbabwe but on the journey home ‘Matchie’ developed terrible travel sickness and we were lucky to pull him through! We weren’t sure what damage had been done to his heart, so the decision was taken not to race him again.”
Match Winner went to Peter Moor’s Golden Acres Stud where he sired several winners – “but none of his calibre.”
The next Triple Crown Winner was Stay Alert, trained by Ginger Halfpenny, in 1995, followed by the Michael Clements-trained Summer Silence in 1997.
After that Zimbabweans waited until 2006 for another Triple Crown winner.