MARK Twain once said there are two times in a man’s life when he should not speculate: when he can’t afford it and when he can.
Not too many, if any, horse racing trainers would subscribe to Twain’s view. Speculation is, after all, a trainer’s constant companion.
Adam Trinder, a third-generation trainer, understands that speculation walks hand in hand with his profession. He’s viewed it at close-hand for as long as he can remember.
Grandfather Ray owned and trained Piping Lane before sending it to the late, great George Hanlon, who won the 1972 Melbourne Cup with the horse. Father Michael won four A V Hiskens Steeplechases - Monsist (1985), Tengah Hari (1986), Red Cavalier (1990) and Misty Weather, which won the 2003 renewal by a record 25-lengths - and still trains a handful of horses at Trinder’s stables at Spreyton, 103 kilometres north of Launceston.
Trinder is a relative novice of four years standing as a trainer compared to his father and late grandfather, but the daily speculative roller-coaster ride endured by horsemen has long been instilled. Not long after he ended his career as a jockey - which dates back to him finishing second on Eager Prince in Rich Dreams' 1994 Launceston Cup as a 15-year-old - he took out a trainer’s licence.
It was as a jumps jockey that Trinder excelled. He won a Grand National Hurdle (Desert Master, 2009); Grand National Steeplechase (Morsonique, 2010), two Hiskens (Misty Weather, 2003), Spanish Symbol, 2007), Australian Steeplechase (Millennium Dancer, 2004), Galleywood (Desert Master, 2009), Great Eastern Steeplechase (Real Tonic, 2006) Von Doussa (Wheel The Lead, 2009).
Moments after he won the Grand National Steeplechase on Morsonique in 2010, Trinder retired as a jockey.
“I went out on my own terms,” Trinder said. “I was always going to come home and start training. I decided to pull the pin after the Grand National.”
Trinder sits atop the Tasmanian premiership and is on the cusp of his biggest success - Friday’s Listed $100,000 Tasmanian Derby (2200m) with the brilliantly-named Jerilderie Letter.
Each season, Trinder has increased his tally of winners.
He prepared 20 in his first season, doubled that the next year and posted a career-best 51 winners last season. With half the season remaining, Trinder has trained 31 winners and is tracking to eclipse last year’s mark.
Jerilderie Letter, a son of the imported stallion Bushranger from the Portland Pirate mare Pirate’s Sirene, heads into the Derby on the back of victories in the Tasmanian and Hobart Guineas, both Listed races, and with only one defeat from his six starts.
It has been an interesting journey in more ways than one.
One of the first horses that Trinder prepared was California Wish, a daughter of California Dane from the Portland Pirate mare Pirate’s Sirene. California Wish, a $7,000 purchase, won six of her 15 starts, including the 2013 Magic Millions 3YO Classic (1200m) at Launceston.
Delve back even deeper into the pedigree and an imposing bloodline emerges. Portland Pirate is a son of Zabeel from Spirit Of Kingston, a winner of the Group 1 VRC Oaks, G1 Rosehill Guineas, G1 Canterbury Guineas and a G3 Black Opal.
Pirate’s Serene’s third dam is Nummereen, which left Tasmanian St Leger winner Raami’s Magic, but more significantly, Casual Pass, a winner of the G1 LKS Mackinnon Stakes and the G1 Yalumba Stakes.
Buoyed by the success of California Wish, Trinder headed to the 2014 Tasmanian yearling sales, which offered a half-brother by the imported sire Bushranger, a dual-G1 winner in Europe over 1200m. It was the first and only time Trinder has purchased a horse by Bushranger.
“She (California Wish) was a very highly strung filly, but had good speed and she was one of the better horses that I trained,” Trinder said.
“It put this horse (Jerilderie Letter) on to my radar. I bought him on spec without any clients.”
Not long after Trinder purchased Jerilderie Letter, he received a phone call from retired local bookmaker Tony Bartlett, who liked the horse on pedigree and asked if there were any shares available. Bartlett put together a syndicate that owns 80 per cent of the horse.
Included in the syndicate is Tasmanian-based QC Greg Richardson, Sydney magistrate Terry McGuire, Barry Diprose, who owns a trucking company which carts alcohol to pubs/bottle shops across the state and raced Monsist, and Victorian tulip farmer Leo Koomen.
(Jerilderie Letter was named by Greg Richardson after one of two original surviving documents penned by Ned Kelly, who dictated the letter to gang-member Joe Byrne in 1879 in an attempt to justify the killing of three policemen in Stringybark Creek, Victoria, in October 1878. Kelly gave the letter to a Jerilderie bank accountant with the direction for him to have it published in the local paper.)
For the next year, Trinder second-guessed himself many times about the $11,000 he spent on Jerilderie Letter.
“I questioned my decision to purchase him on several occasions,” Trinder said.
“He was showing me nothing. I had blinkers on him, he had three or four preparations as a two-year-old, there were a lot of times when I thought we weren’t going to get a result.”
While the trackwork of Jerilderie Letter, whose stable nickname is ‘Ned’, never generated much excitement from Trinder, once the gelding went to the races it quickly became apparent he was a racehorse.
Jerilderie Letter’s breeding would suggest he would best suited at sprinting distances, but as Trinder has continued to increase the distances of his races, the gelding has continued to thrive. Trinder points to the influence of Zabeel kicking in.
“Sometimes the apple does fall a far distance from the tree,” Trinder said.
“Thankfully, that’s the situation here.”
After winning his first two starts at Devonport (1000m) on September 27 and then at Launceston (1220m) on October 14 last year, Jerilderie Letter was freshened. He suffered his only defeat when he resumed with a luckless one-length third behind Gee Gees Top Notch at Launceston (1200m) on December 9.
“He got bottled away on the fence and never really got out until the last furlong,” Trinder recalled. “But he hit the line with really good enthusiasm and was in front a half dozen strides after the line.”
Jerilderie Letter has strung together three wins, including the Tasmanian Guineas (1600m) and Hobart Guineas (2100m) in January. That speculative buy is now shaping as a stroke of genius.
While Trinder notes that Jerilderie Letter is never going to space his rivals, what impresses the trainer is that he has a good attitude and is always up for a challenge.
“The easiest part is getting to him, but getting in front of him is a different matter,” Trinder said.
“He’s quite content to hold them that neck off, he’s a fighter.”
Quite appropriate given the background to his stable name.