Winning against the odds
BATTLE-HARDENED jockey Marlon Dolendo knows there is more to life than winning or losing a close race.
The 41-year-old, who is due to have five rides at today's latest Lismore meeting, underwent a kidney transplant two years ago.
He also battled financial problems and depression before successfully returning to racing and remains one of the most sought-after jockeys among the region's trainers.
Although the condition still affects his riding, Dolendo said he was always going to continue life in the saddle.
"I had no choice," he said. "I have three kids to look after - what else am I going to do?
"You cannot live on Centrelink.
"This is what I do."
Dolendo was kept out of racing for more than a year after falling ill with his condition.
He was hospitalised for about six months and received a new kidney donated by his sister, Marie.
The racing industry rallied behind the popular jockey, raising more than $40,000 to support Dolendo while he received treatment.
The Port Macquarie-based jockey battled depression while sidelined from the track and admitted he considered suicide.
Returning to riding in March 2012, he delighted punters and officials by winning a race at his first meeting back at Taree.
Dolendo needs to constantly monitor his diet and drinks about five litres of water a day to ensure he remains hydrated.
"It doesn't affect my riding too much, although you have to careful," he said.
"Some weeks I can be riding six days a week and not getting home until midnight. I get very tired.
"I never thought about stopping (though). I have been riding for more than 20 years and this is what I do.
"I think the people and the horses kept me going.
"I'm still not 100% after the transplant, but I keep going."
Dolendo will be aboard Elle Majesty, trained by Casino's Ian Savins, in the $15,000 Book Your Cup Day Marquee Now Benchmark50 Handicap (1400m) today.
Punters may be wise to back Dekarnage.
The seven-year-old won over 1530m at Murwillumbah last Tuesday and has been in impressive form recently.