When Shay Barry relocated his string of horses to Curraghmore three months ago his main concern was undoubtedly the contentment of the horses in his care and his wish that they would all settle into their new surroundings.
If appearances are to be believed then the Waterford trainer has nothing to worry about as on the morning of my visit last week the horses in Barry’s yard exuded an air of serenity and contentment. And why wouldn’t they with the beautiful surroundings of Curraghmore providing a wonderful backdrop for their daily routine.
Barry’s move from Owning went well and more importantly the stable has continued its impressive form with two wins and six placings from their last nine runners.
No surprise then that the Waterford trainer is delighted with the move.
“The horses have settled in very well, why wouldn’t they really. This is a fantastic place to have horses and I am delighted to have the opportunity to train here.
Owning is a good spot with a great gallop but here we have a similar gallop, in fact I think it’s every bit as good as Owning. Also we have 2,500 acres of grass so there’s plenty walkways. We also have the river which is fantastic for the horses. It’s a whole different atmosphere here, the horses seem very relaxed and they seem to love it here. We have about 24 horses riding out at the moment and it’s going very well. We have good staff and good riders. Everything we’ve run out of the new yard has either won or been placed which is a good thing. I’m very much looking forward to the winter with them”.
Barry has very capably managed the transition from jockey to trainer but readily admits there are huge differences between the two.
“I had 26 years riding but for the last couple of years of my career even before I got that bad injury in Killarney it was in the back of my mind to go training. My mind was made up though after the injury. I went back riding for less than a year but at that stage I was really focusing on going down the training route.
The riding was great. You just head off to the races, ride the horses, jump in the car and head home but with training it’s definitely 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
It’s early mornings, late evenings with staff and owners to deal with. You really have to be very on top of everything so yes it’s a huge difference from riding and certainly a lot harder work. You also have to be very businesslike. Costs are huge, staff, hay, feed, bedding.
You need a good team. Emma is great in the office and we have a very good staff here but it’s no wonder I’m gone a little bit greyer!”.
In what can be a very tough and demanding profession Shay Barry has hit the ground running and is extremely pleased with the stable’s strike rate.
“We’ve had about 45 runners and 22 have won or been placed which is a good strike rate. It’s also about attracting new owners also so it’s important to keep the horses healthy and successful. It would be great to get a few new owners but we do have some fantastic owners and some local owners. Peter O’Dwyer has a couple of lovely young horses here and Mr McManus has a horse who’s doing very well and has in fact won twice”.
The JP McManus horse at Shay Barry’s yard is After Rain, winner of a maiden hurdle at Killarney in August and a novice hurdle at Wexford on the October Bank Holiday Monday.
It’s clear the trainer thinks a lot of the McManus owned 5-y-o.
“After Rain is a lovely horse. I had him as a young horse. Mr Mc Manus bought a horse from us before but he went elsewhere. I spoke to Frank Berry (JP Mc Manus racing manager) about After Rain, got Barry Geraghty to do a bit of work on him and they bought him the next day. Thankfully they left him here and he’s won twice and I think he could be a very exciting horse for next year.
I’ve always loved him and I was delighted to see him win in Killarney. For his first couple of runs we just wanted to get him to relax. We knew he had plenty of ability but he wanted to do everything in a hurry.
Last time out in Wexford he was much more relaxed and settled and jumped brilliantly so we were thrilled with that win”.
The Peter O’Dwyer owned Thumbstone Blues has also made a promising start to his racing career much to the delight of his owner and trainer.
“Tombstone Blues won his bumper first time out, finished second in Galway and was then beaten a neck in Galway. He will probably go hurdling. I think he could be a graded horse, he’s really a lovely horse. Then we have a Beneficial, he hasn’t run yet but he should be out soon and then of course we have Bentelimar. He’s won five times already including at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting last year and a listed race in Punchestown in February. He went to Cheltenham last year. It was out first year going over to the Festival. We went five days before. We thought we were doing the right thing getting him to settle in but he refused to eat for a couple of days and just wasn’t himself so we didn’t see the best of him. The experience of going to Cheltenham was fantastic though and maybe next year if Bentelimar is good enough to go back he might settle down a bit better and could be fine”.
Despite the fact that he plied his trade as a national hunt jockey and that recent stable successes have also been national hunt Shay Barry enjoys training on the flat and is hoping to add to his crop of flat horses.
“I had a couple of nice flat horses but when we left Owning the owners, who live over on that side, wanted to let them on the hill over there but I definitely do like the flat. You know straight away where you are going with the yearlings, you know fairly fast whether they are going to be any good or not so yes I would like to have a few more flat horses”.
Barry Geraghty, Mark Walsh and Rachael Blackmore are some of the jockeys to have won on Shay Barry trained horses in recent weeks and the trainer hopes to be able to attract top class jockeys.
“Usually the owners would decide what jockey to use and we usually try to get the best available because when you do that there’s no excuses. Brian (O’Connell) has been riding a lot of the horses but he has torn his cruciate ligament so he’s going to be a out for a while. Barry Geraghty and Mark Walsh of course will ride Mr Manus horses but after that it’s really up to the owners and if they have a preference we try and get who they want. There’s a lot of good riders young riders and claimers around. Donagh Myler for instance is flying. He did well on Akito the other day. We were meeting Henry’s (De Bromhead) horse eight pounds wrong so we decided to take the seven off by putting up Donagh. It nearly came off. He was just beaten”.
Shay Barry is delighted with the support he has received from Lord Waterford since moving to Curraghmore and is he is confident the stable can continue to expand and succeed in the future.
“I’ve been firends with Lord Waterford for a long time. We did a lot of hunting together and I know him a long time. He’s put a lot of effort into the place and is always delighted when we’re doing well. The new gallop that has been put in is fantastic and we’re very grateful for his support and I look forward to our association continuing for some time to come”.