As far as anniversary dates go 2022 was always going to be a big year for Sean Tarry.
It is duly going that way as he has a live Wilgerbosdrift SA Triple Tiara candidate in Rain In Holland (Duke Of Marmalade), who goes into Saturday’s Grade 1 Wigerbosdrift SA Fillies Classic as the favourite.
Twenty-five years ago in 1997 Tarry took out his trainer’s license.
However, that quarter-of-a-century ago epoch was big for more reasons than one.
A filly bred by his brother Mark called Golden Apple was sent to the sales that same year.
Sean’s opinion was she was a bit on the small side and should be let go and Mark had agreed.
However, in the back of Mark’s mind was her beautiful balance and on the spur of the moment, after she had passed her reserve, he bought her back.
It was an inspired decision. She grew into a medium sized filly and provided Sean with his first ever Graded winner less than two years after he had taken out his trainer’s license.
She got up by half-a-length under Anthony Delpech to win the Grade 2 Gosforth Park Fillies Guineas (today’s Wilgerbosdrift Gauteng Fillies Guineas which Rain In Holland fittingly won last time out).
Golden Apple later foaled Pomodoro, who became Sean’s first Durban July winner in 2012.
That makes this year the tenth anniversary of that date.
The July win was a particularly auspicious occasion because Pomodoro was not only owned but was in fact also bred by Tarry’s loyal owner Chris van Niekerk.
Heavy Metal then won the July for Tarry and Van Niekerk the following year.
Tarry is now a five-times South African champion trainer and he holds the record for the number of stakes won in a season, R36,139,550 (including restricted races), which he accumulated in the 2016/2017 season, and also the record for the number of winners in a season, 215, which was achieved in that same season.
He also likely holds a couple of two-year-old records because in the previous 2015/2016 season he won the first seven two-year-old races he contested, achieved with six horses, meaning all six won on debut. He ended that season with 16 individual two-year-old winners of 21 races.
Horseracing is essentially about the stud book and another feather in Tarry’s cap is it took him just 21 years as a trainer to train a Grade 1 winner sired by a horse he had previously trained (Return Flight sired by Pomodoro).
All these achievements are not bad for a man who grew up more interested in conventional sports like rugby and cycling. He has in fact completed many Argus cycle races.
“But I was aware of racing from a young age as my father was a colour holder and my brother Mark was fanatical about breeding and pedigrees. I remember July winners like In Full Flight and Jamaican Music.”
In 1991, at a time he owned a health foods business called Sir Juice, an in-law of his, Tony Rahme, won the Grade 1 Golden Spur as an owner with the Mike Azzie-trained Ring-A-Pound.
That sparked his interest in racing and in 1994 he decided to make a change from behind the counter to the big outdoors and try his hand at training.
He had stints in the yards of his brother-in-law Damon Rahme, as well as with Bertie Hayden, June Casey and Greg and Karen Anthony, before taking out his own license in 1997. He saddled a winner in his first meeting that paid R190 a win.
Tarry has a strong team going to the races on Saturday because besides Rain In Holland he will be represented by the like of Grade 1 winners Chimichuri Run and Under Your Spell, Pyromaniac, Platinum Sky, Cirillo, Tropic Sun, Black Thorn, Seehaam and Victoria Paige.
Picture: Rain In Holland (Chase Liebenberg).