Australia’s Premier Horse Racing News, Form Guides & Tips

Australia’s Premier Horse Racing News, Form Guides & Tips


With the passing of Rick Hore-Lacy earlier this week it’s worth revisiting what is probably the last feature interview with the stallion-making trainer, conducted by our own Ben Dorries back in January 2013 – appropriately on Magic Millions eve.


Courier Mail – January 10, 2013

THERE was a rumour floating around this week that Magic Millions bosses were refusing to allow colourful trainer Rick Hore-Lacy to buy horses on credit at the Gold Coast yearling sales.

So I went straight to the source and asked the larrikin Victorian trainer and renowned punter, the man who has won and lost a fortune in his rollercoaster life in racing.

“‘Yeah, they still won’t give me credit,” Hore-Lacy says, before delivering the punch line with a cheeky grin.

“But I don‘t blame them. I wouldn’t give me any credit. I would be one of Australia’s best-known brokes.

“But things work out, everyone gets paid … eventually.”

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Rick Hore-Lacy, the owner-trainer of 1980 Oakbank Great Eastern Steeple winner Lord Rocky Red with jockey Bob Challis.

Hore-Lacy, who saddles up second favourite Clevadude in tomorrow’s Magic Millions 2YO Classic, is a great survivor of a racing industry that can chew them up and spit them out.

The Geelong Grammar boy had no family background in racing but has always loved a punt, back to the days when he used to jump the fences of country Victorian tracks.

“We never had any money. We might have only had a pound to put on something in the first race, and we didn’t want to spend five bob of it just to get into the races,” Hore-Lacy said.

“On quite a few occasions a gentleman wearing a white coat would end up chasing us, but we were young and pretty quick.

“I had to be quick on my feet. At Geelong Grammar, the only word of English the maids knew was ‘no’ and they could all run 100 yards in 10 seconds.”

For as long as he can remember, Hore-Lacy‘s motto has been that if he likes a horse, he backs it.

He says he has no idea what he would be doing now if it wasn‘t for his first big collect on the punt, his monster $144,700 quadrella win in 1976.

Hore-Lacy spent half of the windfall buying 11 yearlings at the New Zealand Sales and taught himself how to train by reading racing books.

“I was just really dabbling in horses at the time and I won this quadrella … I had 100 units on it and it paid 1444.70,” he said.

“I was so excited, I was trying to work out what 100 times $1444.70 was. I just knew it was a lot of money.

“Every week or two I used to go into the Continental Hotel in Melbourne and I used to cash a cheque for five quid sometimes, at the most 10, to pay for a few beers.

“Anyway, I had this cheque for $144,700 and I took it down the pub and told the bartender to cash it for me. He turned around and threw the cheque at me.

Caulfield races. Race 6 Trainer Rick Hore-Lacy after Craig Williams wins on Toorak Toff in the PFD Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes.

Rick Hore-Lacy with Craig Williams after Toorak Toff won the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes.

“The good thing was, I spent some of the winnings on some yearlings in New Zealand. I knew nothing about training but I had a book called Feeding To Win and another one called Training To Win.

“It is all common sense really. You have just got to make sure your horse is eating and it‘s not sore.”

Australian bookmakers got an early taste of Hore-Lacy‘s golden touch on the punt when his first race winner, a gelding named Toss, won at Yarra Glen in 1978.

It sizzled the track and won by 12 lengths and was backed from 33-1 to 7-2 as Hore-Lacy and his university mates backed it with each of the 40 bookmakers who were on track that day.

Hore-Lacy‘s run continued when he hit the jackpot in the 1980s by striking up a relationship with wealthy businessman Alec Dodson, whose great “Canny” horses – Canny Lad, Canny Lass and Sister Canny – were the stable stars.

Dodson died in the mid-1990s and Hore-Lacy‘s son, a drug addict, died at about the same time. The trainer hit rock bottom and could barely lift his legs out of bed in the mornings.

He overspent at a major yearling sale and went bust. He had plenty of horses, but no owners.

But as he always seems to do, Hore-Lacy picked himself off the canvas and reinvented himself with other star horses such as Spartacus, who won three Group 1s with Hore-Lacy owning a 50 per cent stake.

Redoute‘s Choice was the best horse Hore-Lacy trained, winning four Group 1s, but the trainer missed out on an incredible goldmine when he was offered a lifetime breeding nomination after the horse retired.

At the time, he was cash-poor and chose to sell the nomination for $120,000 in a decision which has now cost him a vast fortune.

Through the good times and bad, Hore-Lacy has retained his laconic sense of humour.

Redoubts Choice gets a shove from trainer Rick Hore-Lacy at Mordialloc beach. f/l. 1 October 1999. /racing         /racehorses .

Redoute’s Choice gets a shove from Rick Hore-Lacy at Mordialloc Beach.

“The secret to having an enjoyable life is doing something you enjoy doing. It might be making love to lots of women,” he said with a chuckle.

“For me, it is racing. I embarked on a career that I‘ve really enjoyed, even though it has had some unsavoury moments.

“If you took my betting from day one to now, I‘d have to say I probably would have won a little bit but it wouldn’t be much. It’s a pretty hard caper.

“It’s quite a thrilling thing, beating the bookies.

“A bit of the thrill has gone out of it for me now because it‘s so competitive and most often you lose your money.

“Sometimes you are wondering whether your jockey might be trying.

“That is a very distasteful thing to even be thinking about.

“In recent times this has been shown to happen more times than you would like to believe.

“The confidence of the public needs to be high, otherwise people aren‘t going to bet and if they don’t bet there is no industry. Racing should be an even playing field, or as near as you can get to it, but the older I get, the more I realise that sometimes it isn’t a level playing field.”

Hore-Lacy shows no signs of slowing down. Clevadude may have his work cut out from a wide gate but Hore-Lacy is always looking forward and was active at the Gold Coast Sales this week, even if he wasn‘t given cash credit.

He spent $165,000 buying a strapping chestnut yearling, by Stratum, and the man who is renowned as one of the best judges of horse flesh is certain the horse has a big future.

Stratum Star, the $165,000 ‘very nice horse’ wins the Kingston Town Classic at Ascot.

“I’ve bought a very nice horse. Stratum is a very promising young stallion and he’s out of a young mare and I like buying yearlings out of young mares,” Hore-Lacy said.

HOOFNOTE: Hore-Lacy did indeed identify ‘a very nice horse’ as the Stratum colt turned out to be $2.45m earner Stratum Star, a two-time Group 1 winner who now stands at Widden Stud, where he was initially foaled.

Hore-Lacy trained Stratum Star for his first four starts and the colt contested the 2014 Group 1 Blue Diamond at his third run before later that year being transferred to the Darren Weir stable.

Under Weir he won eight races and was placed 15 times, winning at the top level in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes and the Kingston Town Stakes.

Clevadude failed to deliver on Magic Millions day in 2013 finishing 14th behind Real Surreal after drawing the car park, but he did win the other three of his first four starts for Hore-Lacy.


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