Horses / Horse News

Nicci Garner
5 minute read
13 Oct 2017
1:59 pm

Tarry’s big plans in summer

Nicci Garner

Champion trainer Sean Tarry has pencilled in some big plans for his feature-race contend­ers in the next four months.

Legal Eagle looks a picture and is working well enough in his preparation for a Cape campaign.

He has lost some of his big names, like Derby winner Al Sa­hem and Smiling Blue Eyes as well as stable stalwart Carry On Alice, who are all headed overseas to Dubai and stud respectively. How­ever, he still has an impressive number of top-class horses to fire at the big prizes during Johannes­burg’s Spring-Summer Feature Race Season and Cape Town’s Siz­zling Summer season, spearhead­ed by dual Horse Of The Year Legal Eagle.

The Mayfair Speculators (Pty) Ltd-owned Legal Eagle, who has won the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate and finished second in the Sun Met for the last two years, will be targeting those two races again this season.

Legal Eagle has not been seen on a racecourse since the Pre­miers Champions Challenge on 6 May, but is looking a picture following a holiday on a spelling farm.

He finished second to Deo Ju­vente in the Champions Chal­lenge, a run that disappointed many of his fans, but Tarry ex­plained: “That was a worrying time for the yard. The only horse I had any confidence in on the day was Al Sahem, and my concerns about Trip To Heaven, Carry On Alice, Smiling Blue Eyes and Legal Eagle proved to be well founded. And Legal Eagle conceded weight to Deo Juvente and the third horse, Nother Russia.”

Exciting news for Highveld rac­ing fans is that we’ll be the first to see him back in action because Tarry intends to follow the same path as last season, when he made his comeback in an 1160m Pinna­cle Stakes on 9 November (Victory Moon Stakes Day).

He will then be sent south to assistant trainer Monique Man­sour, who leaves on Monday to set up a temporary base at Milnerton for the summer. Legal Eagle will make his Cape debut in the Green Point Stakes, a race he won last year, before defending his title in the Queen’s Plate and bid to keep his 100% 1600m record intact.

The six-year-old son of Greys Inn has class and immense abil­ity so his two runner-up berths in the Met have led quite a few of his fans to insist he does not have the same level of ability over 2000m as 1600m. That is something Tar­ry has scathingly disagreed with whenever the subject is brought up.

“It’s very simple,” he said. “He’s always been a brilliant ‘miler’ when racing up with the speed, but he needs to be switched off to be effective over ‘10 furlongs’.

“Think about it, he was very impressive in the SA Derby Tri­al (2000m), the Jubilee Stakes

(1800m) and the SA Derby (2450m), running at them. In the Jubilee, giving weight to older horses, he came past them like they were standing still.”

In both Mets, jockey Anton Marcus rode Legal Eagle up on the pace and the gelding had noth­ing to come when the chips were down. However, Tarry is not a man to discuss riding tactics with the jockeys who ride his horses, saying: “I can’t second guess the decisions they make when they are out there on the track. They are the ones out there, judging the pace and making the calls. Imag­ine if Legal Eagle was far back off a slow pace? That would be suicide.”

Tarry has around 180 horses in training, a huge number for just one man. He oversees the whole operation, mapping out each of his horses’ training and racing schedules with military preci­sion. He has fine-tuned his man­agement structure and employs a whopping 110 people, making him arguably the biggest employer in the ranks of trainers.

Mansour is one of his five Randjesfontein assistants. The others are Andries Nzongo, who has been with Tarry since he first started out in May 1997, Shilock Mtwesi, a stable stalwart of 15 years, Thabiso Nako, who breaks and trains the babies, and Robyn Klaasen, a recent recruit from Gary Alexander. Deshone Steyn runs his KwaZulu-Natal satellite yard.

The stable’s work riders re­port to the assistants, who have instructions about each horses’ work daily, and each assistant has two to four managers to supervise the grooms. The stables are pris­tine and each role is carried out like clockwork.

As for the jockeys Tarry books, he says: “The industry makes the incorrect assumption that S’manga Khumalo gets to choose his rides. Although he is my No 1 rider, I select the horses he rides. He is part of the team and a big part of my plans going forward, but I have a lot of horses and some suit certain riders, so I choose who rides which horse.

“S’manga and Lyle Hewitson ride a lot of my horses, but I use other senior jockeys and have had good success with Anton Marcus, Anthony Delpech and Piere Stry­dom and they will continue to get rides when the time arises.

“Another jockey who is work­ing hard for me is Karl Zechner. His loyalty has not gone unnoticed and is appreciated.”

The stable utilises all the train­ing tracks at Randjesfontein, but also has two treadmills – “a lovely training aid”. Around 20 horses a day are treated to a spa, where they stand in icy water for 20 min­utes.

Obviously we can’t cover Tar­ry’s plans for every promising horse in the stable, but here’s what he is hoping for with his best-known runners.