Smyth set to make training comeback

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By Darryn Nufer

Prominent Rockhampton thoroughbred breeder Kerrod Smyth is set to return to training after a 13-year hiatus from the caper.

Smyth (pictured) hasn’t trained since receiving a two-year disqualification in 2005 after a prohibited substance was found in his Callaghan Park winner Fire Ant.

The 59-year-old, who has operated the successful Laurel Glen Equine Centre at Alton Downs for many years, is in the process of re-applying for his trainer’s licence – something he’s held “on-and-off” since 1979.

“I have a really nice colt left over from the sales (Capricornia Yearling Sale) and I’d like to legitimately bring it to the track without asking favours of other trainers,” Smyth said.

“I’m semi-retired and I want to make it another spoke of the Laurel Glen Equine Centre.

“I’ve broken-in a lot of horses and educated them ready to run and sold them on Facebook but it’s very hard to give them the racetrack education they need to finalise the breaking-in and pre-training process without going to the track.”

Smyth said he’d never had an itch to return to training and it was more a business decision with regards to Laurel Glen.

“The breeding industry and selling yearlings has done me very well and there’s great satisfaction in watching the horses that you’ve bred, race – the likes of Mythologist, Alesprit and Tinto Elemento just to name a few,” he said.

“In 2005 I vowed that I’d had enough of training and to be honest I haven’t seen that Queensland racing is profitable enough with the current prizemoney levels to attract me back to train.

“But as part of my business here I can see that it would be sensible to have a trainer’s licence so I can educate the horses that are left over from the sales or horses that I’d like to keep and race myself.

“It’s not my intention to return to the days when I had 20 in work, it was a 2.30am rise and three trips to the track with a seven-horse truck.

“Training is a job, it’s not just driving to the track. The horses come home, they have to be shod, groomed, rugged, mucked out and no matter how good a job you do in the morning you have to do it all again in the afternoon.

“So I just want a couple of horses.”

Vale considers training path

Still on the subject of trainers, Sammy Vale, brother of Rockhampton trainer Ricky Vale, could also soon be a new addition to the local ranks.

Sammy, 31, is considering applying for a licence to train.

Healthy numbers in the Open ranks

If a week is a long time in racing then a year must be close to an eternity.

That’s what it felt like yesterday when a capacity field of 12 runners contested the eighth and final race on the card at Callaghan Park, the Open Handicap over 1100m.

The race actually attracted 18 nominations which was vastly different to what we saw this time last year.

At the corresponding race meeting in 2017 the Open Handicap over 1400m could only lure six runners.

Rockhampton had gone through a period where the ranks for Open horses were depleted resulting in some races for this class being scrapped due to insufficient acceptance numbers.

What we saw this week was a positive reflection on where local racing is at considering of those 18 nominations, 15 were trained in either Rockhampton or Mackay.

It remains to be seen whether yesterday’s Open Handicap proves a guide to other races over the Winter Carnival where southern visitors are expected to play a significant hand.

Girls Grammar School Race Day

Racing returns to Callaghan Park next Saturday for the annual Rockhampton Girls Grammar School Race Day.


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