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  • Provincial Racing NSW


BLAKE RYAN started with two pre-trainers for John O’Shea when he took out his own licence and began training at Hawkesbury on Australia Day two years ago.

Then a filly who had been unplaced in four runs and was a “bit quirky” was transferred to him by his Rosehill-based father Gerald and co-trainer Sterling Alexiou, their thinking being a change of scenery might help.

It certainly did and almost instantly. The then three-year-old filly Divine Future gave him a memorable launch to his career when, as his debut starter, she won a 1280m Orange Maiden a few weeks later on February 20.

Ryan also won another race with Divine Future at Canberra later that year (she was also placed on six occasions) before the rising six-year-old mare was retired last year.

From those humble beginnings, the experienced horseman has come a long way.

Ryan has greatly increased his team to 34, and celebrated his 15th success (and fifth this season) when I Am Brazen scored at his home track last Sunday.

“I started with five boxes at the stables previously owned by Noel Mayfield-Smith (who later relocated and is training at Coffs Harbour),” Ryan recalled.

“Then an opportunity arose to lease Grahame Mapp’s stable at the track which has 26 boxes and eight yards, and I have a lease there until June next year.

“Predominantly, the 34 horses are young ones. Twenty of them haven’t even been named.

“I had built a good relationship with Mark Newnham (who has just moved to Hong Kong to train), and he recommended a dozen of his horses come to me.

“A number of them are owned in Hong Kong, and at some stage will be sent there to race.

“Nonetheless, with so many young horses in the stable, there is always hope that at least some of them will turn out to be pretty handy.”

Ryan was confident he had four-year-old Brazen Beau mare I Am Brazen ($6) ready to fire first-up at his home track meeting in a Benchmark 64 Handicap (1000m) – but started to have self doubts after a rough trot the previous couple of days.

“I had four runners leading up to I Am Brazen’s race and in total they beat only three horses home,” he said.

“I took Ashwood Girl ($18) and Staffa ($17) to Dubbo last Friday, and then ran second last and last.

“Momack ($31) resumed in the Midway Handicap at Randwick on Saturday and ran last, but to be fair it was 1200m and the hardest race he has contested first-up.

“Then Critical Time ($18) did what Critical Time does and never puts two runs together. He followed a good second at Hawkesbury last month by beating two home in the race prior to I Am Brazen.

“I was really bullish about her chances as she had been going great, but started to become a bit gun shy when the others had finished down the track.

“But everyone has their ordinary runs, and I was pleased to get the monkey off my back when she won nicely.

“In hindsight, I should not have been concerned as none of the other four were under double figure odds, which was reflective of their chances.”

Ryan’s aim with $135,000 weanling purchase I Am Brazen, with an eye sometime down the track to her next career as a broodmare, is to initially secure a metropolitan victory and then hopefully black type with her for owner Phil Pollicina’s Ravenswood Bloodstock.

“She is well bred being out of a Redoute’s Choice mare, and is already the winner of four races,” he said.

“I Am Brazen has come back a really nice mare, and her work leading up to the Hawkesbury race was terrific,” he said.

“She was tying up toward the end of her last preparation, and that’s why I stopped with her.

“She now lives in a day yard at the stables, and has really responded to that.

“I would like to go to a midweek in town next, but can’t see a suitable race and might be forced to run her in a Saturday Midway Handicap.”

Ryan was equally pleased to have good friend Jay Ford on board in I Am Brazen’s resumption victory.

“Jay lives just around the corner, and is always willing to help out whenever I call on him,” he said.

Whilst stablemate Momack tailed the field home in a Midway Benchmark 72 Handicap (1200m) at Randwick last Saturday, he wasn’t disappointed with the gelding’s performance.

“It was obviously too short for him, and he went into the race without a trial and was beaten only six lengths,” he said.

“Momack has been a special horse to me. He was my first city winner (in a 1400m Midway Benchmark 72 at Rosehill Gardens in May last year) and my first stakes runner (when a $51 outsider and narrowly beaten by Kirwan’s Lane in the Listed 1600m Ladies’ Day Cup at Hawkesbury last November).

“I was going to try for the South Grafton Cup (1600m) next month, but he had a bit of a setback whilst spelling, and was out longer than I had wanted.

“That race will come up too quickly, so perhaps the Listed Rowley Mile (over the same trip as the Ladies’ Day Cup) at home on August 17 will be a suitable target.”

Dab hand though he is at training, Ryan also has made a real name for himself preparing youngsters for the annual Inglis Ready2Race sale each October.

“I’ve got 20 current yearlings to prepare for the sale on October 10, and they have come in and out of the stable over the last few months,” he explained.

“But we start to get serious from early August, and it’s a home game this year as the then two-year-olds will breeze up at Hawkesbury on September 22 leading up to the sale.

“It will be interesting this year with the recent announcement that Singapore racing will close later next year as they have taken up 15 to 20 per cent of the market in the past.”

Ryan says preparing youngsters for the Ready2Race sale helped immeasurably by getting his name out there and introducing him to a lot of clients.

Married to Jess, an excellent horse woman in her own right, and with a young family, Ryan said starting his own training career was the logical next step.

“Of course it’s great being Gerald’s son and we’re always on the phone chatting about the horses, but it was time I stood up and became my own man.

“Hawkesbury trainers are going fantastic this season, and it’s terrific to be a part of that.”

*Words John Curtis - June 12, 2023 - Pics Bradley Photos*

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