Ashy Boy a beneficial building block for young trainer


Ashy Boy with Patrick Kearney. Photo: supplied

Patrick Kearney’s venture into the thoroughbred horse training ranks couldn’t have gotten off to a better start, with Hong Kong offers already coming in hot for his listed Tasmanian Derby- and Bendigo St Leger Trial Stakes- bound galloper, Ashy Boy.

The 24-year-old Ballarat-based trainer, who has six horses on the books while working as Symon Wilde’s foreman, has big ambitions for both himself and Ashy Boy – an impressive 1875 metre Class 1 winner at Kyneton on Thursday.

Acquired for $7500 by Patrick Kearney Racing through the 2021 Inglis August Online Sale, Ashy Boy was initially a $150,000 2020 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale purchase by trainer Matt Laurie, but struggled for form in his first three career starts as a young horse.

“I just thought he would benefit from being in a different environment and getting out over more ground, being by a Fastnet Rock mare,” Kearney said of the decision to purchase Ashy Boy.

“I’ve kept working him until he settled down as he was quite a highly-strung horse but the further we’ve worked him the more he’s relaxed.”

Kearney believes the sky’s the limit with Ashy Boy.

“While we will keep them [the offers from Hong Kong] in discussion, I will continue to train the horse as if we’re keeping him but it’s good to have offers in the back pocket.”

Kearney, who found a love for racing through family ties with astute trainer Cliff Brown, cut his teeth riding at the picnics.

He worked as Mick Price’s traveling foreman along with being the assistant pupil to multiple Classic-winning British-based trainer Hugo Palmer in Newmarket.

On returning to Australia at the beginning of 2020, Kearney felt confident enough to take out his own training license before joining the Symon Wilde camp, where he has worked since.

“I’ve learned nearly everything I know from Mick Price; he’s been a fantastic mentor and he’s someone I really listen to when he gives me advice,” Kearney said.

“Symon [Wilde]’s been great, and I also chat with Archie Alexander a lot, I get along with him very well and if I need some advice, I’m often in contact with him.”

An astute rider in his own right, Kearney believes the ability to ride horses in track work is the ‘most beneficial tool’ any trainer can have in their arsenal.

He plans to continue to ride each and every horse in his care for as long as he can to ensure that his loyal owners are provided with the premium service they deserve.

“When you’re in my position and only have a few horses in work you really need to know exactly how they’re going,” Kearney said.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to ride a lot of nice horses, so I know the feel of a good one and a horse like Ashy Boy I need to be on his back to understand where he’s at.”

Kearney’s recent mainstream exposure through Ashy Boy has opened the door to new clientele, but he won’t be adding horses to his stable for the sake of it.

He has since introduced exciting juveniles Amabutho and Super Sting to his stable, with the inexpensive duo both impressing on debut at Bendigo and Werribee respectively.

The success of Ashy Boy and the promising signs shown by Amabutho and Super Sting is more than likely to see Kearney attack the 2023 yearling sales with the intention of improving the quality of stock in his care.

“I’ve been asked by a ton of people if I had anything to sell but I’m on the lookout to buy the right horse as you don’t want to go out and buy something that won’t win you races just for the sake of it,” Kearney says.

“You want to have horses in your stable that are going to be competitive and improve, so I will head to Tasmania definitely (Magic Millions) along with Adelaide (Magic Millions) and hopefully Perth too (Magic Millions) in the new year.”

Despite loving every minute of his tenure with Wilde to date, Kearney has his sights firmly fixed on becoming a household name in his own right.

In the coming months he’ll take a leap of faith and acquire 21 of his own boxes at Ballarat.

“The end goal for me is to be a premiership-winning trainer – it’s what I’ve wanted to do my entire life and I will do anything to get there as I’m hungry,” he says.