As we launch into our local racing season, FOCUS catches up with local racehorse trainer, Brett Bellamy – one of the most successful trainers on the North Coast.
Did you grow up around horses?
Probably not until I was about 12 or 13. We had acres when I was a kid, but we didn’t have much to do with horses and riding.
So what engaged your interest in horses then?
Dad used to cart racehorses around when I was a very small kid, from when I was about 3 or 4 onwards. We got to go to the races – not that we had a great deal to do with them back then, so I don’t remember too much about that.
But then Dad happened to buy a pub that was beside Hawkesbury Racecourse, so we got to meet a lot of the trainers, strappers, owners and people involved with the racing game from there. I suppose the interest evolved from there.
How did you get into training yourself?
When we first moved to Coffs Harbour, we had show ponies and we did a lot of hacking up here. We were disappointed with what that entailed up here, because we’d come from Sydney and it wasn’t quite what we wanted. Then Dad went to Sydney to buy me a car and came back with a horse … no car, but we had a horse!
As I said, we were disappointed in the showing game, so we thought we may as well be training a racehorse. We knew a little bit about what went on, how to train them and how not to train them. Dad was granted a license first, because I wasn’t old enough, so I trained them under his name for a few years – until I was old enough to be granted a license.
Obviously you were training alongside your dad, but did you have any other mentors when you first started training?
I had a lot of influences from a lot of good Sydney trainers. I’m talking about people like Morrie Anderson and Miles Sherd; I knew them, and they helped me out along the way. Another fellow that was a big influence on me being in the racing game was a fellow called Ted McCabe. He was, at the time, the Stud Manager of Princess Farms. He was a big influence, because we used to spell our horses out there, and it was through his suggestions that we bought the horses we did.
You’ve come a long way since the early days and are now considered one of the most successful race horse trainers on the coast. What is the key to your success?
A very supportive family. I think that’s a big thing. Without the support of Mum, Dad and the wife and kids, you don’t go far. They know you’ve got to travel a long way, and they’re very patient sometimes.
When you do get a little bit disappointed and down in the dumps, they’re always there to pick you back up again and support you.
What are some of the challenges you face in your line of work?
Obviously everyone else is out to achieve the same goals – and that’s to train winners. So I think you’ve got to try and do the job a little bit better than the next fellow. You’ve got to get to know the horses that you’re training, to try and achieve the best results. You know the old saying: “Happy wife, happy life”? Well, I think the horses are a little bit the same. A happy horse will try their hardest and generally put their best foot forward on the race track.
How many horses are you working on at the moment?
Probably roughly around 45.
Describe your typical day …
I go to the track around 5 o’clock in the morning and work through until around 11.30am. Then I come home and rest for a while, do a bit of paperwork and figure out where we’re going to start the horses. So I basically program where we’re going to go and what we’re going to do with them. Then I go back in the afternoon around 2.30 – 3pm and go through the horses, clean their boxes out, feed them and rub them. Then come home, put my feet up, have dinner, then do some more bookwork.
I do up the program for the next morning to see what sort of work we’re going to give them in the morning, so I don’t have to run around and do it the next day. Basically, there’s a lot of planning going into where you’re going to go and what horses are going to do what work to get the best results in the races you’re going to run them in.
Have you got any horses racing in the Coffs Cup this year?
Possibly, but it hasn’t really been decided yet. We’ve got a few up and coming horses that just haven’t quite made the grade yet. Maybe not this year, but I think next year they’ll be somewhere there. We’re hoping that we may get a runner in this year, but at this stage we’re looking at one of the restrictor races on the program – but not quite the cup. I think they’re just a little bit immature. They’ve got the potential to get there, but we’ve sort of just run out of time.
Who are some of your horses that we should keep an on?
Cyclone Brad, Narcello, and Lotsamoola. There’s also a nice up and coming filly called Mud Wrestler and a local horse called Tuppatonic.
There’s a fairly substantial stable there, and there are a lot of well bred babies we’re educating who haven’t been named. I’m looking forward to the years to come, because we have got some nice babies coming along behind these ones – and I think that’s a big plus. Without the young horses coming along behind the older ones, you run out of horses!