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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


TUESDAY: August 22, 2023: IT’S an even busier time than normal for Hawkesbury trainer Blake Ryan.

Not only is the experienced horseman again preparing a bevy of two-year-olds for the annual Inglis Ready2Race sale, but he is also changing “digs” – and not just with his horses.

Ryan is in the process this week of moving both his team and his family to a new complex adjoining the racecourse, purchased by RacingNSW from previous owner Sir Owen Glenn.

“It is the right move from both a financial and family viewpoint,” Ryan said today.

“As well as providing security in terms of the fact that we have a guarantee of permanent stabling accommodation close to the track, we are also moving into a nice house on the property

“That means less travelling, so my wife Jess and I will have more time with our young family.

“I understand there were a number of applicants for the stables, and I’m very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to move there.

“It’s a fantastic set-up, and I will have accommodation for up to 30 horses.”

One half of the RacingNSW-owned complex became available when Michael Freedman took up boxes previously used by now Hong Kong-based Mark Newnham at Royal Randwick, and now has all his horses at headquarters.

Ryan’s horses will be stabled on one side, with Freedman’s fellow Randwick trainer John O’Shea’s horses on the other side. O’Shea visits Hawkesbury several times a week to check on his team.

Ryan, the son of long-standing and successful Rosehill Gardens trainer Gerald, made the move in January two years ago to branch out, secure his own licence and set up shop at Hawkesbury.

He initially rented five boxes from multiple Group 1 winning trainer Noel Mayfield-Smith (now based at Coffs Harbour) before shifting to stables at Hawkesbury owned by Hobartville Stud’s Grahame Mapp, and now has 60 horses on his books.

Ryan started out with two pre-trainers for John O’Shea, and then his father and co-Rosehill trainer Sterling Alexiou transferred a “quirky” then three-year-old filly Divine Future to him, believing a change of scenery might work.

It surely did, and provided Ryan with an unforgettable start to his career. She shed her maiden status at Orange on February 20 that year as his first starter.

He has since trained a further 15 winners, including a metropolitan breakthrough with Momack in a Midway Handicap (1400m) at Rosehill on May 21 last year when a $15 chance.

Momack was subsequently runner-up in two home track 1600m features – the Listed Ladies Day Cup in November and Summer Provincial Series Final the following month – and finished eighth as a $51 outsider, after making the running, in last Thursday’s $200,000 Rowley Mile at Hawkesbury.

“I was pretty happy with his run,” Ryan said. “He struck some trouble not far from the finish and had to be steadied, otherwise would have finished sixth and beaten only three lengths.

“I’ll nominate him for both a Benchmark 78 Handicap (1500m) at Rosehill on September 9, and Dubbo Gold Cup (1600m) the following day.

“As the Dubbo Cup carries eligibility for The Big Dance (worth $3m this year) at Randwick on November 7, it could be a pretty strong race.

“We’ll have a look at the two races, and make a decision which way to go.”

Ryan has been a regular supporter of the Inglis Ready2Race sale and is amongst 44 Australian and New Zealand vendors this year, offering 22 of the 226 two-year-olds catalogued for sale.

“The NSW breeze-ups will be held at Hawkesbury on September 22, with a further opportunity on October 5 for any two-year-olds who don’t make the first gallops,” he said.

The sale will be conducted at Inglis’ Riverside complex on October 10.

“I’ve got a great batch of young horses, and in terms of pedigree, definitely the best I’ve had to present,” he said.

“There are two-year-olds by top stallions such as Snitzel, Justify, All Too Hard, Pierro, Yes Yes Yes, So You Think, Better Than Ready etc.”

The Ready2Race sale has provided 545 individual winners who have earned more than $80m prizemoney since 2016, and six Group winners in the last four renewals.

“This year’s sale will be very interesting, given Singapore racing will close next year, and the uncertainty about the Macau industry, but there is always strong support from Hong Kong buyers,” Ryan added.

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