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  • Provincial Racing NSW


ALL good things come to an end, so we’re told! But not just yet when it comes to Wyong trainer WAYNE SEELIN and his grand old man of racing ISORICH. The remarkable 12-year-old gelding is in his final season, and there’s every chance he will line up again on his home track on Thursday for his 155th career start in a Benchmark 64 Handicap (1350m). Isorich lifted his earnings to just over $822,000 at Wyong last Thursday when runner-up to Jacquine Reward in a Provincial Benchmark 68 Handicap, over a shorter 1200m. The race was run on a “Heavy 10” surface, and Seelin feels his stable flag-bearer would have won had the track been firmer. “He has never won on a heavy track; the majority of his wins have been on good ground,” he said. “I know it means backing him up in a week, but Isorich is well and it’s on his home track, which he loves. “Hopefully, we don’t get any more rain so that we get a better surface for him on Thursday if we decide to go ahead and run him.” Isorich has won 16 races - half of them at Wyong - and been placed 36 times in a remarkable career which underscores the word resilience. “He is a very sound horse, and I wouldn’t run him anyway if I didn’t think he could be competitive.” Seelin could hardly believe the reality of it all when Isorich won at Royal Randwick five and a half years ago. The gelding had just led throughout in a Benchmark 84 Handicap (1200m) only a few races after the mighty mare Winx had beaten her old adversary Happy Clapper in the Group 1 wfa George Main Stakes (1600m). It was September 16, 2017 and the odds of the two horses could not have been more contrasting. Winx, as she so often was, started at a prohibitive $1.12 on her way to capturing the third of her remarkable four Cox Plates at The Valley – and Isorich was at the succulent odds of $21. But the odds had nothing to do with the exhilaration Isorich’s Wyong trainer felt. As he put it, a dream came true that day. “There was a huge crowd and I turned around and looked up to the grandstand,” Seelin said. “It was hard to believe I had actually trained my own winner at headquarters. “As a young chap, my father had taken me to Randwick for the first time to see Hayai (trained by Jim Lee) win The Metropolitan 34 years earlier in 1983 (he also won the Caulfield Cup a couple of weeks later). “At the time we lived not far from Harold Park, and I used to go to the trots there on Friday nights. “When I saw how horses were able to get clear runs on such a big track as Randwick rather than being stuck on the inside and not being able to get out at Harold Park, my mind was made up. “I thought to myself: ‘How good is this?’. I wanted to be involved.” It was a dream allright, and it certainly didn’t happen overnight – but it did happen. Nonetheless, Seelin realised he had to work hard to actually make it occur and says he was “around 30 years of age” before he took out his training licence. “I got a job when I left school, and later Dad and I raced a couple of horses with fellow Wyong trainer Rod Bailey,” he explained. “Rod won a number of races, including three in town, with a horse called Expect A Star for us.

“I had been helping out at his stable, and eventually decided to get my own licence as I had bought a nice property at Wyee about 15 minutes from the Wyong track. “I started out as an owner-trainer with a couple of our horses.” Father and son also had considerable joy in the 1990s with then well-known Wyong trainer Neville McBurney, courtesy of a grey horse named Spiritual Star. “We had an interest in another horse with a syndication company, which folded,” Seelin said. “The horse was transferred to Neville, who quickly told us in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t any good and not to continue. “But he said he had a horse who had won a couple of trials in New Zealand, and recommended we get involved. “That was Spiritual Star. He won the 1994 Summer Cup at Randwick, the Chairman’s Handicap at Randwick the following year and our own Wyong Cup in 1996. “He also ran fourth in the 1996 Sydney Cup, and a week later was runner-up in the St Leger. “Overall, he won nine races and was terrific for us.” Seelin’s first runner was an ex-Bailey horse Win A Lode at Cessnock on May 13, 2002. Allan Robinson was aboard in a 900m Class 1 Handicap and, at $21, he beat only one home in a field of 10. The Marwina gelding failed to fire in six starts toward the end of his career for his new trainer, and was retired with a solitary win to his name in Bailey’s care (at Muswellbrook in November, 2000). But his name turned out to be rather prophetic. Seelin’s breakthrough winner fittingly came on his home track on February 25, 2003. Dale Spriggs had the mount on Sky Can Hurri, who won a Class 1 Handicap (1350m) at $21. Such was the launch of a successful training venture for the modest Seelin, who virtually does it all himself. “I do my own strapping,” he said. “About the only thing I don’t do is ride them.” With a small stable, never keeping more than eight in work, he has won 89 races, including his share of city victories. Sky Can Hurri, a daughter of Hurricane Sky, was his first city winner; at Canterbury on June 9, 2004 at $26. Patrick Ferris was the winning rider. “She also won for us on the Kensington track in March the following year at $101,” Seelin said. “Sky Can Hurri had won at Muswellbrook at her previous start, and Richard Callander’s wife Kaye, who was managing Jimmy Cassidy at the time, rang for the mount in Sydney. “I was happy to put him on, and he got the money for us.” Sky Can Hurri was part of a plan Seelin had to buy fillies to hopefully get a good one and set himself up. Unfortunately, whilst she performed well on the track, those best laid plans went astray when she went to the breeding barn. To put it bluntly, it was one disaster after another, following her first foal. “Sky Can Hurri was a half-sister to the Group 1 winner (1995 Queen of the Turf Stakes at Rosehill Gardens) and three-times Group 1 placegetter Ike’s Dream,” Seelin said. “I had really high hopes with her, and her first foal (by Beautiful Crown) raced as Beauticanhurri and won five races for us and was placed 15 times. “I sent Sky Can Hurri to Snitzel but she slipped. His first crop of foals averaged $277,000 when sold as yearlings. “She went back to Snitzel and missed the second time, and the third time the foal died after birth. “We sent her to be mated with Dylan Thomas and she had a mummified colt foal before we eventually found out the mare had a genetic disease, and that we were unable to breed colts from her.”

Thankfully, better times were ahead, thanks to a Choisir colt Seelin purchased at the 2012 Inglis Select Yearling Sale at Scone in 2012. Fair to say the affable Wyong trainer was finally able to “win a lode”. “I went to that sale with 10 or 15 thousand and a BOBS bonus or two and looked at a lot of yearlings, including a quick look at this colt,” he recalled. “I liked him, but honestly didn’t think I would have enough money to buy him. “He was Lot 2 and I was down in the stalls looking at other horses when I heard bidding about to stop at $3500. “I charged back and started bidding and eventually got him for $7500.” Seelin and his father Brian decided to race him, and Paul Watson joined the pair. “Paul worked at Wyong Council when Dad was a manager there, and won a nice amount on a pokies’ jackpot and took a 10 per cent share. “Paul named him Isorich as a result of his jackpot result.” So began one of racing’s great stories. Seelin has a great knack of being able to keep his horses racing when others have stopped; Isorich’s current earnings stand at $822,825 (including a $10,000 BOBS bonus). Some dividend on what has turned out to be a meagre Scone outlay. Seelin surely thanks his lucky stars he raced back that day to bid on the son of international star Choisir! “Isorich is the soundest horse, but he’s a dopey bugger,” he said. “He still has that habit of laying on other horses. “But he is a real competitor. “I would not have kept racing him for the sake of it if I didn’t think he could still be competitive against his younger rivals.” Seelin says his horses thrive in the tranquil environment of his Wyee property. “I prefer to keep them here and take them to the track of a morning. They love it (you could hear the bellbirds singing loudly as we chatted). It works. “And Dad still keeps an involvement, helping out with all my bookwork. It’s a good interest for him and I appreciate it.”

*Words John Curtis - Pics Bradley Photos*

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