The superstar jockey from Port MacQuarie is back on the saddle and raring to hit the racetracks next month.
Fil-Aussie Marlon Dolendo embodies courage and dedication to the sport he loved – horseracing, the same sport that had made him a big name in Australia’s horseracing circuits over the last decade.
But his is a story not without its own trials including battling an illness that cut short his jockey years, an illness that almost cost him his life.
“I’m back to riding races by March, I feel much better now and I cannot wait to ride a winner soon,” he told magPinoy.
Marlon has had a colourful career in Australia’s racetracks since he started in Sydney with Tommy Smith back in 1990.
It has been a long way for the Negros-born rider who as a kid never even rode a horse, only a carabao.
His first horse ride was in 1992. Since then he has won hundreds of winners since he started riding and he himself cannot now even count how many trophies he had won.
In late 2010, just after winning the 2008-09 Northern Rivers riding premiership, illness struck Marlon.
Both his kidneys suddenly failed him. Undergoing dialysis, not to mention an eventual financial hardship, many thought it was all over for Marlon, dubbed by some race media enthusiasts as the “Flying Filipino.”
His diagnosis showed that only 13 per cent of his kidneys were functional.
“I believe it was my kids, my family, who got me through it … I sometimes just didn’t want to think of the past,” he said.
Life was slipping Marlon until family members stepped in to help Marlon. His younger sister Maria donated a kidney to Marlon to save him.
“I am very grateful for what Maria is doing for my life,” Marlon said in an interview last year with the Daily Telegraph.
“She is giving me another chance, we are a very close family and I will never be able to thank her enough.”
His operation was done successfully at Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
In 2011, Marlon was at the centre of fundraising and charity work done by Australia’s racing circuits.
Racing bodies like the Racing NSW and the National Jockeys Trust and individuals like his former trainer Darren Sage organised activities to raise funds for Marlon. Other big names in Australian racing like John Singleton and Gerry Harvey outrightly donated cash ($10,000 each) to help Marlon.
Marlon, now 40, is on his road to full recovery. And he is back into riding and flying high again in the tracks.
“I’m back on the saddle … I’m sure my cabinet has a little more space for a few to come.”
FEATURE: magPinoy Feb 2012 Issue