One of South Africa’s leading racehorse trainers, 44 year old SEAN GERARD TARRY is having the season of his life and briefly led the Trainer’s Championship, earlier this year. He now lies 2nd on the log, roughly two million rand behind defending champion Mike de Kock and should he finish there, it will be his best finishing position ever. Sean’s first runner in his own right was a winner and paid a whopping R199.00 a tote win, and that paved the way for what was to follow. He has since amassed well over 20 Grade 1 wins and has completed a victory in each of South Africa’s ‘big 3’ races, the latest being his stunning success with POMODORO in last year’s Vodacom Durban July. Sean isn’t too concerned about the big mass that will be allocated to the son of Jet Master when he defends his title in July but until then there is the small matter of taking on what has become a familiar foe in the form of champion miler Variety Club in this Saturday’s Grade 1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge. His charge is expected to make plenty of improvement from his winter season debut and We will follow his progress with keen interest.
What is your name? Sean Gerard Tarry.
What is your star sign and birthdate? Leo. I was born on 6 August 1968.
Where were you born and where did you grow up? Northcliff, Johannesburg.
Where do you live? Midrand.
Tell us about your family? My wife is Karen who is expecting our third child. I have a son Daniel (5) and my daughter is Sienna (3).
Favourite holiday destination? The beach.
Where did you go to school? Randpark Primary and then went to Northcliff High.
What sort of student were you and what did you really enjoy studying? I did not enjoy studying as I much preferred playing sport.
What tertiary education did you attain? None.
Where did your interest in horseracing begin? My brother analyzed pedigrees from an early age and planted the seed. My father was also a keen follower and enjoyed playing jackpots and pa’s.
Who was the first trainer you worked for? How long were you with him and how valuable was that
experience? Bertie Hayden followed by Damon Rahme, June Casey and then Karen and Greg Anthony.
What year did you take out your trainer’s licence and how many horses did you start with and where were you based? May 1997 with 16 horses at Randjesfontein.
Which were the better horses you worked with early on in your career? Golden Apple, Divided Loyalty and Sorevof.
Tell us about your first winner? Supreme Magic, who was my first runner, bred by my brother Mark, and paid R 199 for a win on the tote!
What was the first top class horse that you trained and what did he/she achieve? First group winner was Golden Apple who won the Fillies Guineas and was touched off in the Woolavington and is the dam of Pomodoro. My first Grade 1 winner was Alastor who won the J&B Met in 2005.
Were there any trainers who mentored you early on in your career? I used Mike de Kock as an example by not limiting my horses and having an open mind to new training methods and aids.
You have been blessed with some top class sprinters in the form of National Colour and Mythical Flight. The pair won you back-to-back Computaform Sprints. Tell us about them, their temperament and sheer ability? Both similar ability wise. MF still has the SA record for 1000m and NC must be the closest SA bred to winning a Group 1 in England when beaten a length in the Nunthorpe.
You have enjoyed some great moments during the KZN winter over the past few seasons and your 1-2 in the 2011 Gold Cup was an exceptional feat. Tell us about that day and which of your current horses are being aimed at the Gold Cup? I was lucky on the day as I had managed to gallop all the horses on the Monday, just before a thunder storm broke. The tracks were unusable for the rest of the week and I had a very good day.
Undoubtedly, one of the highlights of your short career has to be your first Vodacom Durban July success with POMODORO, last year. The son of Jet Master has kept his form extremely well since with placings in the Queen’s Plate, the Met and had an excellent comeback run behind Variety Club, recently. How has he taken that run and what is his next mission? Taken the run very well as he hadn’t had a lot of work going into the race. His next mission is the Gold Challenge this weekend.
He is certain to shoulder top weight in this year’s July. Do you think that he can defy the odds and follow-up last year’s win? He has earned his weight and if the handicapper gets his sums right, why not?
What do you make of this year’s three-year old crop? Suspect.
Your other horse HEAVY METAL has found his best form at the perfect time but received a major knock from the handicappers for his Champions Challenge victory. He is rated only two pounds inferior to your champion Pomodoro. Based on their work back home, is this a fair assessment? I think he is probably rated three to four pounds too high.
How is he doing and what is his next mission, prior to the July? He is doing well and will run in the Jubilee in Johannesburg on the 9th June.
What do you make of his chances in the July, bearing in mind, he is likely to receive just 1kg from Pomodoro? He has got his work cut out. If he draws well, and they go slow, there are not too many with his turn of foot.
He is unbeaten with the Winning Form sponsored jockey S’manga Khumalo aboard. Is Khumalo the early favourite to partner him in the big race? He has thrown his name in the hat, but it is not confirmed.
WHITELINE FEVER is another of the stable’s stand out horses and he was unlucky not to have finished much closer in last year’s July. What were your thoughts regarding his run in last year’s race and will he be back for another tilt? It was a great run. Had he not been impeded by Pomodoro, he would probably have finished in the first four. Yes, he certainly will be back for another tilt.
He has proven that he is an exceptional miler but the ten furlongs may be slightly beyond him. Will he take his place in the Gold Challenge and do you think that he can beat the country’s best miler, Variety Club? He’ll take his chances in the Gold Challenge, which will also form part of his prep for the July. It is unlikely that he can beat Variety Club.
In your opinion, who do you think is the better miler between him and Pomodoro? Not much in it. Pomodoro seems to have a touch more class.
Your seasoned campaigner GOLD ONYX ran a decent third in the Betting World 1900 last time. He wasn’t beaten far in last year’s July after winning the Cup Trial impressively. Based on his current rating, he will receive a handy 4.5kgs from Pomodoro after conceding 1kg to the latter last year. How is he doing and is he being aimed at the July? He is doing well and is being aimed at the July.
He may find it tough to get into the race as he is rather strangely sitting on 28th position on the current Vodacom Durban July log. Which races will he be aimed at to qualify for the July and what is your opinion of the current log? At this stage he seems unlikely to get a run as he is in 28th place on the log. This is quite astounding given that he is a Grade 1 winner, a multiple Group winner and a horse who clearly showed his well being in the Betting World 1900. That was his last run before the July in terms of his program. I think the log reflects one person’s opinion: I do not believe you can have a horse in the top 20 who has won one race (a work riders race at that) and has run a Group 1 place. There is a line of form with E Jet and Shogunnar which shows there is not too much between them, yet E Jet is 22 and Shogunnar is 7. There are anomalies in the log and it is obviously not based on handicapping.
Which horses have you earmarked as potential dangers to your runners in the July? It is so wide open that if the three year olds are not up to scratch then a lightly weighted four year old will be the obvious danger.
You have an extremely talented juvenile, WILLOW MAGIC in the yard and he has already tasted Grade 1 glory. Tell us about him? A laid back individual with loads of ability. We hope he gets further than a six furlong, which is what his pedigree would suggest. We are hoping to test him, from a good draw, in the Grade 1 over 1400m on July Day.
What are his missions during the KZN winter and how highly do you rate him? See above.
What do you think will be his optimum trip, bearing in mind he is by the same sire as your top class filly, HAPPY ARCHER? He will probably get a mile, but I am not sure what his optimum trip will be.
Speaking of the daughter of Dubawi, will her next target be the Garden Province Stakes over a mile on July day? She will run in the Tibouchina on Saturday and then into the Garden Province.
You are having a busy day at Clairwood on Saturday. Please tell us about your runners on the day:
FOR THE LADS – She is very well and will enjoy the extra. She will be very competitive and I expect her to feature in the finish.
GENERAL SHERMAN – He is drawn in pole position and the race is tailor-made for him. I give him a good each/way chance.
HAPPY ARCHER – We have Princess Victoria to beat. She runs well at Clairwood and for Marcus. She is very well and mustn’t be ignored.
You recently won Gauteng’s Champion Trainer Award at the RA ceremony. What does this achievement mean to Sean Tarry and what do you attribute your phenomenal success to? Every award means a lot as this is what we strive toward. My success may be attributed to a solid team and a band of loyal patrons.
Have you ever won a National Trainer’s Championship? Not yet.
You are currently in second spot, just under R500 000 behind reigning champion, Mike de Kock. Do you think it will be a closely fought contest over the next two months and will you be going all out to win? I will not be represented in the big three year old races. Mike has his string on song and I think it will be difficult for me to catch him.
How many Graded winners have you had and more importantly how many of them have been Grade 1’s? Not sure but in excess of twenty Grade 1 wins.
How many races have you won throughout your career? No idea.
How many July’s, Met’s and Summer Cups have you won? 1 of each.
Where are your stables currently based and how many horses do you have in your care? Randjesfontein and Clairwood, +- 150 horses.
Does your yard have a marketing team or a website? We have a website.
Does the yard have a stable jockey and a sponsor? Sponsored by LM Bookmakers. No stable jock.
Would you like to pay tribute to some of your loyal patrons that have been with the yard over the years? Chris van Niekerk has been a major force behind the stable and our success. Without his loyal and solid support, none of my success would have been possible.
What are your short and long term ambitions? It would be great to have some horses that were good enough to compete in international Grade 1’s.
The stable has also been known to give young apprentices some very good opportunities. Are you using any youngsters at the moment and which ones have you earmarked as future stars? I am using Doctor Lembethe, Julius Mariba and the champion apprentice Nooresh Juglall. They all have ability. Their success will depend on how they use their ability.
The Clairwood debacle with regards to My Sanctuary hasn’t been good for the game. What are your thoughts on the issue? I agree. If she was my filly I would have been very disappointed that they saw fit to run her.
Were you fortunate enough to see the great Frankel and Black Caviar run and what were your impressions of them while watching them effortlessly beat their rivals? It was a great privilege for all us racing enthusiasts to witness two such superstars in the same season.
The frequent question, “How do we attract the crowds back to racing,” keeps coming up. What are your thoughts on this? I’m not sure this is going to happen.
Do you still have a bet on a horse or is your enjoyment limited to watching them win their races? I have an interest, now and then.
What are your favourite pastimes? Golf and family time.
The saying is “Behind every successful man is an equally successful woman”. Does this apply to Sean Tarry? It certainly does with a wife like Karen, who gives me peace of mind at home, while taking great care of our children. I attribute a great deal of my success to being able to share my life with Karen.