Sean Tarry is having what many consider to be a quiet season and yet he is 12th on the national log and has stakes in excess of R5,5 million. This just proves just how good a trainer he is and what the public’s expectations of him are. Sean has proved that when he gets a good horse he has the ability to take it to the top. Right now he has a lot of promising younger horses who he is waiting to show their worth. As a trainer who considers the horse above all else and who takes great care in placing them where they will do best his results year on year are getting better and better. There is no doubt that he is a trainer to follow!
What is your name and age? Sean Gerard Tarry. I was born in Johannesburg in 1968.
Where do you live? In Jhb I live in Blue Valley Golf Estate and in Durban Umhlanga for 3 months of the year..
Tell us about your family? Married Karen in 2006 and we have 2 children-Daniel, 3 and a half, and Sienna, 20 months.
As a young man you were the co-proprietor of a juice bar. Tell us what that experience was like for you and what you learnt from it? I learnt I definitely did not want to work in a closed environment and that the outdoor life suited me.
At that time your one brother in law was Damon Rahme who had taken out a trainers license and you took the chance and became his assistant trainer. Did you immediately take a liking to the business or did it take some getting used to? I liked racing but was very unsure about my future in the game as many had told me that it was very difficult to make a living in the game. It took me more than 2 years before I believed I could make a go of it.
How easily did it come to you especially being able to tell one horse from another and also work patterns as some horses take more work than others etc? As I started with a small string I found it easy to tell one horse from another and knowing how to work horses came quite naturally to me as I had been a keen sportsman in my time.
Your brother Mark was involved in breeding and is now a successful bloodstock agent. Were you ever tempted to join your brother or ever to go into that line of business on your own? No the breeding side of the business never really appealed to me but I have proved that I am a good picker of horses..
How successful was brother in law Damon as a trainer? He had limited success but he never stuck at it for a very long time.
You then joined June Casey but why did you leave Damon? I wanted to broaden my experience by seeing how other trainers went about their business. From June I learnt about good stable management.
After your stint with June you joined Greg Anthony who gave you free rein with some horses. Which was the most successful of the horses you were allowed to train on your own? The most successful horse I was involved in with them was Divided Loyalty and it was a team effort with her.
After 18 months with Greg Anthony you took out your trainers license in 1997. Your brother, Mark, gave you full backing but when and how did you become involved with Chris van Niekerk? Chris was a colleague of a family member of mine who told Chris about me and he then contacted me. I was just lucky that at the time Chris was looking for someone to train for him.
Which was the first horse you won for Chris and where was that? I won with a horse called Kings Ransom at the Vaal.
How long was it before you decided to open a satellite yard in KZN and what was the main reason for doing this? In 2006 I took 50 boxes at Clairwood. Unfortunately since then Gold Circle has decided to reduce the number of boxes to 40.
Which do you consider the best horse you have trained to date? It has to be National Colour. She had tremendous ability and heart. I consider it very unlucky that when she was due to run in the Nunthorpe Stakes the course had to be changed from Yorke to Newmarker because of rain. She then ran on a track which had a tough uphill finish and that probably caused her to be caught in the closing stages of the race.
How many horses do you have at this stage? I have 40 horses in Durban and 85 horses in Jhb.
Of these horses how many belong to Chris van Niekerk? I would say that 65% belong to Chris van Niekerk.
In your relationship with Chris does he leave things very much up to you? Chris specializes in giving work to people who are good at their jobs and his motto is ,” I don’t believe in telling people how to do their jobs”.
What are your major ambitions for yourself and for the stable? Would like to consolidate myself at the top end of the trainers log not only by winners but also by paying more attention to my % of winners..
Which jockeys ride work for you on a daily basis? I tend to use most of the top guys but Robbie Fradd, Chad Little and Naresh Juglall work most for me.
Do you have a stable jockey or do you have any plans to have a stable jockey? Not as yet. Robbie Fradd and I have an association in Durban and will take it as it comes. I don’t have a stable jockey in Jhb.
How important do you think it is to have a stable jockey? When working with someone like Brett Smith it is fantastic as his feedback on the well-being of the horses was fantastic.
You and Mike de Kock are close friends. Do you ever discuss any problems you might have with certain horses? I try not to impose on our friendship but when I have a real problem I will discuss it with Mike who is always ready and willing to help.
Do you use Mike de Kock’s feed or do you use your own formulas? I do use Mike’s feed as part of my formula. If Mike endorses a product you must listen and take note.
What do you consider to be your strength as a trainer? I think a big strength of mine is in picking horses. I have picked horses which have really accelerated my progress as a trainer.
Which of your horses do you feel could win their way into the top division? Selborne Supremacy, Roman Wall, Gold Onyx, Polar Prince and Always Al are all worth watching and following.
Outside of racing what else are you passionate about? Family life and golf. I play most of my golf with racing people.
Mike de Kock is a mad keen golfer. Do you sometimes play with him and ,if you do, who normally wins? As it happens I very often partner Mike. He is a single figure golfer while my handicap is 18 so he is much better than I am.
Which do you rate as the best horse running in South Africa right now? Outside of Igugu I would have to think that What A Winter and Val de Ra are both top class while Secret Of Victoria is very exciting.
Training methods appear to have changed quite dramatically in the last couple of years with much more use being made of treadmills etc. Do you think that these changes have improved the standard of the horses racing? As a training aid the treadmill is of great benefit. The treadmill is great for horses with leg trouble or for horses who tend to be lazy. Of course when the tracks are too wet to use then the treadmill comes into its own as it does when it comes to working with horse that are temperamental.
You have now been associated with many top class trainers but is there any one of them which you will remember with particular affection for his training ability or personality? Mike de Kock for his powerful personality and outstanding training ability and for ability to see the humour in most situations/.
Which of the stallions standing in this country really take your eye and whose offspring you would like to see in your yard? Galileo seems to be a worldwide phenomenon while in SA Jet Master gets the job done and Dynasty has big potential but there are many exciting young stallions on the up.
What has been the most exciting moment you have experienced in racing over the last couple of years? Wendywood’s group 1 win in only her 2nd start. Her premature death was a terrible blow. I have been lucky to have many exciting Group 1 wins.
How do you like to celebrate a big win? I like to celebrate with my family and friends
What is it about racing that makes you passionate about the game? It is very much like golf. Just when you think it all mastered the game throws you a curve ball and it is back to the drawing board.
If you have to name the most important lesson you have learnt about racing thus far what would you say that is? Handle each horse as an individual and chart his career to suit him and not like any other horse. If you do this they will make your career successful.
A big part of the racing game revolves around punting. Do you ever have a big punt on one of your runners when you feel it has a really big winning chance? I have had a big bet in the past but have found that it is best when I don’t. For those who bet my advice is ‘look for value’.
Do you ever advise owners or family or friends to have a punt on any of your horses? No!
If pressed to advise anyone how they should bet in order to make money punting what would you say? Be consistent. Concentrate on one centre and look for value. If anyone bets because of greed or fear then you are certain to lose.
Do you feel nervous before a big race when you have a well fancied runner? The more relaxed I am before a big race the better my horses seem to run.
How much time do you spend studying form? I study form but maybe not as much as I should .The more one studies form the better it is. The better I know the form the better I can place my horses to give it the best winning chance.
The control of racing is now very strict. Is there anything more, in your opinion, that you think the authorities could or should do to make racing even straighter? The NHRA seems to have changed it’s dogmatic attitude toward trainers and seem to be more helpful . This will go a long way in assisting to keep the game clean.
What is your philosophy on the racing game? If the leaders of the industry put their egos aside and made decisions for the benefit of the horse and the sport it would help the industry to grow as it should. More time should be spent marketing the horse. The horse is a wonderful animal with great marketing potential.
If you had one piece of advice for your fellow associates in the racing world what would it be? Don’t live and die by each result. The circle of life gives you up’s and downs and horses come and go. Do your best and the results will follow. Don’t burn bridges because of a horse.