“Smolda, like you and me, is a low-key sort of champion”
David McCarthy

From his first win in 2011, Smolda quickly set the harness racing world on fire. He raced at the highest level throughout Australia and New Zealand, winning more than $2.4 million.
Part owner and Hunter Valley resident Marcus Kirkwood, whose own harness racing roots run deep, has written an entertaining account of Smolda’s career and of how the wonderful horse became an equine ambassador for the Children’s Cancer Institute Australia.
Smolda’s story has been enhanced thanks to some of his mates who have chipped in with their own lively harness racing anecdotes and memories of the horse with heart known as Big Smo.

Read an extract from Chapter 3 “Thirty years after”.


“Smolda is one of those wonderful old warriors, full of grit and determination, tough as boot leather”
Marcus Kirkwood

In six seasons of racing at the highest level, Smolda notched up 32 wins and prizemoney of more than $2.5 million.
He also won himself a reputation for being as tough as boot leather, showing grit and determination that set him apart from the others.
During his stellar career, the outstanding pacer won nine Group 1s, including the 2016 Inter Dominion. He raced in five Australian states and New Zealand, making fourteen crossings of the Tasman in the process.
And he also found time to serve as an equine ambassador for the Children’s Cancer Institute Australia, helping to perpetuate the memory of Tom Kirkwood who lost his life to cancer on the eve of his eighteenth birthday.
In the words of Marcus Kirkwood: “Smolda certainly managed to burn his name across the sky, and many of us will never forget what the feelings were like.”

Breeding: Courage Under Fire-Under The Mattress.
Record: 68 starts, 32 wins, 23 placings, $2,558,544 in stakes.
Group 1s: Inter Dominion Final 2016, Hunter Cup, Len Smith Mile, 3-y-o Jewels, Ballarat Cup (twice), NSW Derby, South Australia Cup, Bohemia Crystal F-F-A.

Read an extract from Chapter 13 “Smolda . . . burning”.

Smolda’s Mates

“Smolda was a great mate to all those around him and to many others as well.”
Marcus Kirkwood

Throughout his career, Smolda made many good mates. They worked with him, watched him train and race, shared in the excitement of his many wins (and some near misses) and lamented the loss to harness racing when they heard of his retirement.
Quite a few of those mates have contributed to Our Mate Smolda with stories of him, of other horses and of the harness racing industry in general. In the words of Marcus Kirkwood, “they are a motley crew and well spread out but in common they all have a passion for harness racing and they all have an enlightening, interesting story to tell.”

Meet Smolda’s mates and read their stories in the book.


“The big fella walked home up the driveway, a worn course gravel straight-lined by bottle brushes, a little removed but in a way not that far from the manicured crushed granite home straight of Menangle lined by well-groomed box hedges where he had won three Group 1s.”
Marcus Kirkwood


In September 2017, Smolda burned his name across the sky of the Tasman sea for the fourteenth time as he flew to Sydney and then travelled on to his new home in the Westbrook Valley near Singleton NSW.
He is living out his retirement on the property of Marcus and Sharon Kirkwood who, as part-owners of the former harness racing champ, cheered him on to victory numerous times throughout Australia and New Zealand.
As related in Our Mate Smolda, the Kirkwood family has strong links with the harness racing industry, not only from involvement with racing over the years but also through the family business of Kirkwood Produce. With branches in Singleton and Maitland, the business has been providing farm supplies and produce to people throughout the Hunter Region for almost 100 years.

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Please contact us if you would like further information regarding Our Mate Smolda.