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Tony Millard

Tony Millard

Tony Millard

It was almost inevitable that Tony Millard would be a successful racehorse trainer, being the son of Terrance Millard. After establishing himself in his own right in SA, Tony decided to make his way to Hong Kong where he has become one of the top trainers. Tony still has strong ties to SA with his daughter schooling in Grahamstown and his father living in Cape Town but Tony seriously doubts whether he will ever return here as a trainer. With racing now a truly international business Tony will continue to fly SA’s flag high in Hong Kong.

 

What is your name and age? Anthony Terrance Millard and I am 49 years old.

Where do you live? Sai Kung, Hong Kong.

Tell us about your family? I am married to Beverly and have two daughters : Dominique (14) and Rebecca (8). Dominique is at school at DSG in Grahamstown, while Rebecca attends school here in Hong Kong. My wife and daughters are all involved with the horses.

Does your wife and children enjoy living in Hong Kong? The family is very happy in Hong Kong. We return to South Africa at least twice a year – slightly more regularly now that Dominique attends school there.

How involved is your wife in your career as a trainer? My wife acted as my assistant trainer in South Africa but was initially not allowed to work in racing in Hong Kong. A few years ago, the rules changed and now she rides out in the mornings and assists in daily trackwork.

Your father is the legendary Terrance Millard. Was there ever any doubt that you would one day be a trainer? No, I always wanted to train.

Is your dad the type of man who liked to teach by telling you everything or did he like you to watch and observe how he brought his horses along? My dad used to give me a free rein but was always watching. He used to offer good advice but also allowed me to find my own way.

Your dad set records that few trainers can equal. Did this have anything to do with your decision to go to Hong Kong to more or less start afresh without always being compared to your dad? No, it had nothing to do with my decision. The first winner I trained was a Group One, albeit on objection. I went on to win 39 Group One races and two trainers’ championships in 9 years-this is a feat not likely to be bettered. I stand in my own shadow.

What was your biggest success in SA before you left for Hong Kong? Winning two trainers’ championships.

Which do you consider to be the best horse you trained in SA? Empress Club.

What do you believe were the most important lessons you learnt from your dad about training horses? Be in the stables as much as possible, observing. Treat each horse as an individual.

How easy did you find it to settle into your new life in Hong Kong? Every place has a different way of training. I had to adapt my training methods to suit the Hong Kong horses, tracks and climate. I am still learning and adapting!

You obviously must socialize a lot with ex pats but do you have many of the locals as friends? We have a few local friends – mainly out of the racing circle.

How do the locals like to socialize and have you taught your new friends to enjoy a good old fashioned ‘braai’? Most of them are quite westernized and relaxed and we do enjoy a regular braai.

When standing around the braai are you, like most South Africans, a beer drinker or have you found something to replace the beer?  I don’t drink much – too fattening!

How do you celebrate a big win in Hong Kong? Relaxed meal with family and friends.

How many patrons do you now have? Almost 60 patrons plus a number of large syndicates.

How many horses do you have in your yard?  60.

Which do you consider to be the best you currently train? Ambitious Dragon.

What is the biggest success you have had in Hong Kong? Have won 2 HK Derby’s and 4 Group 1’s.

What do you think are the main differences between training in SA and training in Hong Kong? The strings are smaller, the racing (although we only race twice a week) is more intense, you have more contact with the owners and there is more public relations.

Do you work your horses everyday? They are out – 7 days a week.

How advanced is the feed you use? As good as the best in the world.

Do you have things like a treadmill and swimming pools? We have all those facilities at the Sha-Tin training complex.

Hong Kong is densely populated. How do you take horses for long walks or must it all be done in the training complex? All the training is done at the Sha-Tin training complex. We do have a facility within the racetrack called Penfold Park that can be used to walk the horses out under saddle in the mornings.

Hong Kong is a really sophisticated racing centre. How do you think they can teach trainers in SA better training techniques? Every place is different and you have to adapt to your circumstances.

Horses from SA have been doing exceptionally well all over the world. How well do you think they would do in Hong Kong on a more regular basis? The South African horses would definitely hold their own here but you can’t get them out of SA easily enough.

When you have leisure time how do you like to spend it? In my free time, I cycle and waterski.

Hong Kong punters are amongst the most passionate in the world. Do you have many, or any, who regularly want stable information from you? We are not a punting yard. The owners get information about their horses but I do not gamble and people know that.

How do you handle the ‘punter’ when approached for information? I don’t normally get approached. People know that I am not a gambler.

Do you have any views on whether racing is better or worse when there are bookmakers involved? I prefer the tote.

What has been the most exciting and satisfactory day you have had as a trainer thus far? Winning the Durban July with Dancing Duel for long standing patrons, Luke Bailes and Sean McCarthy.

If you had any advice for your fellow associates in the racing game what would it be? Don’t be lazy, attention to detail and be prepared to go that extra mile.Footnote: On 1 October Tony Millard won with Ambitious Dragon at Sha-Tin, ridden by Dougie Whyte.

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