50/1 outsider Proverbial delivers Lou Mary first Highway winner

The Lou Mary-trained Proverbial won Saturday’s Highway Handicap at Rosehill Gardens. Inset: Chad Schofield and Lou Mary with Proverbial following their win. Photos: Bradley Photos.

Saturday will be a day Scone trainer Lou Mary never forgets, with the Frenchman training winners at both Rosehill Gardens and Newcastle.

Racing in the TAB Highway Handicap at Rosehill Gardens, the Mary stable landed a surprise winner when Proverbial popped up to take out the 1100m Class Three Handicap, paying $53.70 a win and $8.60 a place on the NSW tote. 

Chad Schofield took the ride, and from gate nine, the four-year-old jumped well, with Schofield improving three-wide in the early stages before getting a good run, sitting only two horses off the fence and four lengths off the pace.

On the home turn, Schofield peeled five wide, and Proverbial was too strong for her rivals, with The Factor mare winning by 1.22 lengths from the Paul Messara-trained Summer Glow (Brenton Avdulla), while 1.34 lengths off the pace in third was the Brett Thompson-trained Blow Dart (Josh Parr).

Mary was always confident Proverbial would deliver connections a Highway Handicap win.

“When Proverbial won last preparation, we thought she was up to this level, and hopefully a bit better than that.

“We always had it in mind to get one of these and thank god she got one on the board.”

Mary’s big day continued later in the afternoon, with Nitride winning for connections at Newcastle. 

Ridden by Mitch Bell, the six-year-old was stuck three wide after jumping well from gate 10 in the 1300m Benchmark 68 Handicap, but the All Too Hard gelding maintained his winning form, when finishing strongly to beat the Stephen Jones-trained Hit The Target (Koby Jennings) by 0.48 of a length, while in third and a further length away was the Peter Green-trained Butch ‘N Bugs (Louise Day).

“Nitride; he won first-up, and has now won two, and he is going well,” Mary said. 

“Last preparation, we waited too long, and it got too deep in his preparation when we finally went to town, and we have worked out he is better earlier in his preparation.

“We will now take him to Randwick for a 1400m Benchmark 78 and he will give it a good crack.”

When asked how it felt to win a maiden Highway Handicap and land two winners on the same day, Mary was simply thankful.

“It was great for myself, and for everyone that supports the stable,” Mary said. 

Born and bred in France, Mary is a well-travelled and experienced horseman who has dabbled in most aspects of the thoroughbred racing industry. 

“I have been riding trackwork my whole life. I put my leg over a racehorse when I was 11 and I was riding trackwork on school holidays and every Saturday morning,” Mary said.

“I got my amateur licence when I was 16, and got a few rides in France, and then went and got a degree in Equine Science.

“I worked with horse trainers and stud farms in Ireland, and I wanted to have a good understanding of each aspect of the industry.”

While he has only been training since 2020, Mary completed a distinguished apprenticeship, working with some very good trainers once arriving in Australia. 

“I have been training for a bit over 12 months, but I have lived in Scone since 2009/10,” Mary said. 

“I did a bit of backpacking around Australia and landed in Scone, working for Arrowfield and Paul Messara. 

“I spent four years with Paul and two years with Gary Moore as his travelling foreman before I met my lovely partner and we decided to come back to Scone, and I worked for Paul again, but I was breaking in his yearlings this time.”

Following his stints in varying roles, Mary broke out as a trainer in 2020, preparing his first winner when Southern Cloud won the 1600m Class One Handicap at Gunnedah in December of that year. 

Since then, the 34-year-old has trained 12 winners, with Proverbial’s victory in Saturday’s Highway Handicap the biggest win of his burgeoning career. 

Coincidently, with Proverbial winning Saturday’s Highway Handicap, she beat Messara’s mare, Summer Glow, who Mary educated before going out on his own as a trainer.

“She was actually in the last bunch of yearlings I broke in for Paul,” Mary laughed. 

“Paul sent me a message after the win, and he is very happy to see us winning one.

“We get on well, and they have been great to me over the years.”

The Scone conditioner said he was always destined to train and that he was enjoying his new career.

“I think at some stage, training was always the aim for me,” Mary said. 

“We started well with a modest little mare we purchased for $2000 called Southern Cloud and she won, but we only had a small team, and I was driving for a horse company on the side so I could make a wage.

“We built it up slowly, and then after six months, we got some syndicates in, and nice clients and we have slowly put together a nice team and I am happy with how things are going.”