John Tapp interviews the people who make racing tick.
Episode 395: Grant Williams
It was around 2008 when Grant Williams started to tinker with the odd thoroughbred. Prior to that he’d enjoyed a distinguished 20 year career in harness racing as a trainer and driver. His association with leviathan owner/breeder Bob Peters began in 2012. When that partnership terminated early this year, they’d shared success in 15 Gr 1’s and countless stakes races. Grant begins by talking about the end of his association with the huge Bob Peters operation.
When Bob first offered Grant some horses to train, he thought someone was having a joke with him.
Grant explains that he had other loyal owners to consider at the time of the surprise offer.
He says that his principal owner had a major contribution to the programming of his horses.
Grant pays tribute to his remarkable wife Alana, who as Alana Sansom attained dizzy heights as a jockey in WA.
He says Alana continues to ride much of the stable trackwork, and insists on having input where quirky horses are concerned.
Grant talks of the communication between he and his wife regarding horses in the stable.
The trainer looks back on the trying four months when pandemic regulations kept them apart for four long months. He was campaigning horses in Melbourne. Alana was ‘holding the fort” in WA.
He delights in talking about daughter Tahni who not surprisingly has an inborn affinity with horses.
Grant acknowledges his favourites among the cavalcade of talented horses to carry the Bob Peters colours.
The dual code trainer describes the facilities available at his Karnup operation, and the positives about the nearby Lark Hill training facility.
Grant talks of his friendship and fabulously successful professional association with champion jockey Willie Pike.
He pays tribute to a couple of riders who filled the void while Willie was campaigning in the east this year.
Grant reflects on twenty happy years in harness racing, much of it under the tutelage of his trainer/dad Ray.
He talks of Ray’s involvement in a number of his gallopers.
Grant looks back on his high points in harness racing and pays tribute to a couple of his best pacers.
He admits he’s expecting a loss of momentum before his stable is up and running again.
Grant tries to forecast his likely future in the WA training ranks.
Episode 394: Ashley Morgan
We’re delighted to present a podcast with a young Welshman who took NSW racing by the seat of its pants last season and turned it upside down. Ashley Morgan arrived in a strange country unheralded and unsung in 2018 and with the help of a prominent Scone trainer began to ply his trade. Last season he was crowned NSW champion jockey. We begin by talking to Ashley about his quick return to the UK recently for the christening of his young daughter.
The Welsh born jockey talks of the trackwork he rode while overseas to ensure his weight remained in check. He was thrilled to be given a few race rides in England and the USA.
Ashley takes us back to childhood days in Wales and his early riding experience on his grandfather’s hunters and point to point horses.
He talks of work experience in Somerset and his apprenticeship to Mark Tompkins at Newmarket. He later transferred to Ed Dunlop, a trainer well known in Australia.
After riding around 70 winners he lost his focus on race riding and sought employment in London. In fact he tried two jobs.
When Ashley contemplated a return to the saddle he was horrified to discover his weight had soared to 68kgs. He talks of his dedication to losing enough weight to resume race riding.
The premiership winning jockey reflects on the twelve emails he sent off to Australian trainers. To his amazement a well known Scone trainer asked him to call.
Ashley says local trainers were very wary of this Welsh jockey for the first couple of months. He looks back on a disastrous introduction to Australian racing and the unexpected thrill of his first winner on Aussie soil.
He fondly revisits his first ever winning treble at Muswellbrook. He says this was the day he arrived in Australian racing.
Ashley talks of a bush trainer who gave him a big helping hand, and a gradual turnaround from Hunter Valley stables.
He remembers the moment when he sensed a premiership win was on the cards. He gives great credit to his manager.
Ashley says his loyalty to country clients keeps him away from the city. He recalls his first metro win on Pandora Blue at Randwick.
He runs through a few feature races he’s been able to win since arriving in NSW.
The jockey reflects on his chance meeting with partner Kara who was working on a Hunter Valley Stud. He tells us more about his little “Aussie” daughter River.
Ashley looks back on the heartache he suffered when covid travel restrictions kept him away from the funerals of three loved ones back home.
He acknowledges a very nice mare he got to ride during the season.
Ashley outlines his trackwork schedules.
He reveals there was an offer from a Newmarket trainer should he wish to return to the UK.
It’s a laid back chat with a hard working Welshman who has no intention of regenerating his career as a real estate salesman.
Episode 393: Jamie Walter
We catch up with the founder and CEO of the respected racehorse syndication company Proven Thoroughbreds. This interview was recorded before Private Eye’s unplaced effort in the Champions Mile. Jamie Walter recalls the heart stopping moments when Private Eye hit the front a few strides from home in The Everest. He relives the excitement of the occasion.
Jamie pays tribute to a very special horse and to Joe Pride, the trainer who has taken Private Eye to ten wins and $6 million.
Jamie Walter talks about his childhood at Mudgee and an early association with horses.
He talks of his fascination with radio and early announcing jobs on western districts stations.
Jamie remembers a surprise offer from 2UW, at the time a very popular Sydney station.
He talks of an overseas adventure which saw him work in racing stables in the USA and England. There were a few unlikely jobs in between.
On returning to Sydney he assisted brother Guy who’d set up shop at Warwick Farm. At the same time Jamie picked up freelance work as a “voice over” talent on radio commercials.
He talks of a complete change of direction- a move to the Sydney Futures Exchange. He spent ten years in the industry.
Jamie looks back on a brief gig with 2GB which had been purchased by John Singleton. His versatility again shone through, as he tried his hand as an NRL commentator.
He looks back on the creation of Proven Thoroughbreds and the spare job he tried as he waited for accreditation.
Jamie talks of the early days of Proven Thoroughbreds when he concentrated on the purchase and syndication of tried racehorses. Hence the company name.
He pays tribute to the two trainers who operate his Queensland stable. Steve O’Dea and Matt Hoysted have done an outstanding job for the operation.
Jamie acknowledges some of the talented horses who’ve helped establish Proven Thoroughbreds.
This podcast would not be complete without Jamie’s tribute to his late brother Guy who died suddenly in 2014.
He pays tribute to sons Tom, Sam and Harry.
It’s a good yarn with a bloke who has crammed two lifetimes into one.
Episode 392: Larry Olsen
Who better to join us at Melbourne Cup time than former jockey Larry Olsen who joined the chosen few when he won the 1987 Cup on Kensei. A couple of years earlier Larry was dairy farming at Kyogle and his weight had soared to 80kgs.
The popular jockey’s spectacular comeback made headlines around the world. He looks back on a life changing win.
Larry remembers how his association with Kensei began.
He takes us through the races leading up to the Cup triumph including a win in the Grafton Cup- one of the jockey’s favourite races.
He relives the dream run that helped Kensei to snatch victory from a Cummings duo.
Larry recalls that Kensei never won another race.
He talks of his bittersweet memories of the day. Stewards grilled him over another ride on the programme which landed him in the worst kind of trouble.
Larry takes us back to the days of his apprenticeship to Mal Barnes in Queensland. He explains that his very first race ride was in Sydney.
In 1972 a horse called Triton came into his life at a time when his career was flagging. He looks back on two elite wins aboard the horse with “shelly feet”.
Many racing men have forgotten that Larry Olsen won six races on Gunsynd before the horse went to Tommy Smith. Larry remembers the budding champion who later thrilled Australian racing fans under the popular nickname of the “Goondiwindi Grey”.
The former talented jockey joined an elite group of riders to win a Melbourne Cup and a Golden Slipper in the same season. He looks back on his one and only ride on Star Watch.
Larry talks of the “flat spot” he hit in 1981 when the rigours of the sweat box were getting him down. Along came one of the best horses he ever got to ride. He pays tribute to Best Western.
He recalls a brief association with the marvellous veteran Battle Heights- a second in the Caulfield Cup and a freakish mishap in the Melbourne Cup.
Larry clearly recalls the exact moment when he knew his life as a jockey was over.
The popular horseman talks of his happy 16 years as a Sky Racing presenter. He became one of the voices of Queensland racing.
There’s little doubt a lighter Larry Olsen would have reached dizzy heights in the Australian riding ranks. Still 1000 wins and 24 Gr 1’s ain’t bad. He shares some special memories with us, thirty five years after his Cup triumph.
Episode 391: Brad Widdup
After 24 years in the employ of other trainers, Brad Widdup was coaxed into training in his own right as recently as 2017. Two years later he endured a setback that would have discouraged most horsemen in the same position. This man’s recovery has been spectacular. We begin by getting Brad’s reaction to his best season ever in 2021/2022.
He talks of a flying start in the new season.
Brad says his recent success has brought increased support to his Hawksbury operation.
This interview was recorded before Saturday’s Randwick meeting when stable star Icebath was unplaced in The Invitation after a hopeless start. Brad takes us through his remarkable journey with the classy mare.
Brad takes us back to early days in Albury when his father Pat was his greatest inspiration. Brad says his dad, who is still training a small team, is an outstanding all round horseman.
He recalls his introduction to Sydney racing when he gained a start with Warwick Farm trainer Rod Craig. He then talks about a succession of jobs with some outstanding horsemen. Brad could have applied for his licence much earlier, but chose to keep gaining experience.
Brad was working for Crown Lodge when word filtered through that Bob Ingham had decided to sell the entire operation to Sheikh Mohammed. He recalls the moment.
Brad looks back on the commencement of his own training career and acknowledges some of the horses who got him up and running.
He talks of his association with jockeys, and echoes the sentiments of most trainers who experience difficulty in securing the regular service of capable work riders.
Brad pays tribute to the training facilities offered by the Hawkesbury Race Club with special mention of the Polytrack.
He talks of his wife Milissa and three teenage children.
Brad had twenty four years of experience under the belt when he was cajoled into training horses in his own right. After a shaky start through no fault of his own, Widdup has bounced back in spectacular fashion.
Episode 390: Nick Souquet
Punters and racing fans who follow southern districts racing are familiar with the name of Nick Souquet. The veteran jockey has been a fixture down south for all of his thirty years in the saddle. I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Nick Souquet which was all the more reason to get him on the podcast for a chat about his successful career. Nick says he’s never met another person in Australia who goes by his surname.
He talks of his home base at Wodonga which enables him to ride in two states.
Nick says he’s able to control his weight when riding regular trackwork.
The veteran jockey speaks glowingly of the talents of Al bury trainer Mitchell Beer.
He talks of recent winning rides at prominent Victorian tracks.
Nick pays tribute to his wife Laura and three children whose ages range from 5 to 15. He acknowledges his wife’s riding career which finished after a nasty race fall.
The jockey looks back on childhood days growing up on the well known Coppabella Pastoral property near Tumbarumba.
He reflects on a chance meeting with legendary trainer Richard Freyer. Work experience led him to an apprenticeship with Freyer whose wise counsel proved invaluable.
Nick talks of the drastic measures he had to take during the pandemic. Border closures made his life a misery.
The jockey looks back on his very first win at Griffith in 1989 and a subsequent stable transfer to Adelaide where he worked for respected trainer Russell Cameron. He pays tribute to Cameron who died in 2019.
Nick had a great trot in SA riding 55 winners including several in the city. He acknowledges a couple of talented horses he got to ride.
He talks of an offer he had to join a top Sydney stable.
Nick talks of the good advice he received from Richard Freyer when he concluded his apprenticeship with plenty of money in the bank.
On coming out of his time Nick made the decision to stay in the bush. He says he’s never ridden a winner in Sydney.
Nick pays tribute to a handful of jockeys who were his inspirations in the impressionable years.
He looks back on the special horses who helped shape his career.
The jockey speaks of his close association with Queanbeyan’s Cleary family.
He talks of the job he took when his weight got out of hand last year.
Nick concludes by talking about his future plans.
Fantastic interviewer and great listening to! Keep it up Tappy!
Just as you were a race caller John, these podcasts are exceptional and in my opinion are what racing people want
Thanks very much for the obviously great effort you put into each one
My only ask is keep getting more Harness racing people but I still love it