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  • John Curtis


SUNDAY: December 5, 2021: THERE are still characters in racing – and Henry Reeves is definitely one of them!

The former jockey and now Hawkesbury hobby trainer won his first race this season at Newcastle yesterday with the only horse he has in his stable.

Classic Train (Jeff Penza) notched the second victory of her eight-start career in the Benchmark 64 Handicap (1850m), and gave a clear indication she can score again in the near future.

A $7.50 chance, Classic Train burst to the front on straightening and stayed on strongly, leading home a Hawkesbury quinella.

Edward Cummings’ Lava ($5.50) chased valiantly to finish second, with $4.20 favorite Dalgarno third.

Reeves served his apprenticeship with the legendary TJ Smith at Royal Randwick, but increasing weight limited his career in the saddle.

“I was 15 years old when I walked into TJ’s stable, and can remember it as though it was yesterday,” Reeves said this morning.

“It was the most exciting time. Bob Thomsen (later a 25-times Group 1 winning trainer at Randwick and who also has Dream Eclipse in work at Hawkesbury with trainer Brooke Somers) and myself served our apprenticeship together.

“I was lucky enough to ride a lot of TJ’s good horses work, and was still an apprentice when the ‘boss’ put me on the brilliant sprinter Kilshery (who trounced his rivals in the 1962 Stradbroke Handicap at Eagle Farm as a three-year-old) in his last race at Canterbury in January 1965.

“It was his only start as a six-year-old (he ran fifth to Pardon Me in a 1207m Flying Handicap) and was retired afterwards.

“One of the horses I looked after for TJ was Regal Peace, who won the 1962 Thousand Guineas at Caulfield.

“You usually got 20 quid if your horse won a midweek race and 25 quid for a Saturday race, but the boss gave me 80 quid after the Thousand Guineas.

“I took up training as a hobby, and never have more than one or two horses in work.”

Reeves’ wife passed away a number of years back, but he has a wonderful family supporting him.

“I’ve got four sons and 10 grandkids, and I would do exactly the same if I had my life over again.”

In fact, it was one of Reeves’ sons, Shane, who purchased Classic Train online earlier this year for his father to train.

“She had three starts for Gerald Ryan and Sterling Alexiou at Rosehill, and won a 1350m Maiden against her own sex on debut at Newcastle in February before placing twice at Goulburn.”

Classic Train, a four-year-old daughter of Bullet Train, was sold for $16,500 after finishing last in two trials at Rosehill in July and august.

“She has had five starts for me, and earned a cheque every time, not finishing further back than fifth,” Reeves said.

“I’m sure she will get further going on the way she won yesterday.”

Classic Train is the fifth foal of the Show A Heart mare Silent Symphony (who died in September) – and all have been winners.

HOOFNOTE: There is a certain synergy between mother and daughter surrounding Newcastle.

Silent Symphony’s two wins were both over 1850m (yesterday’s distance) at Newcastle, and she was also placed four times over the same course.

Classic Train’s two wins to date have both been at Newcastle, and thus it won’t be any surprise if Reeves looks for another suitable race on the track in the coming weeks.”

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