The last time Kevin Cassidy raced a horse in Sydney, the legendary Harold Park Paceway was still in action.
During a storied 25-year career, the veteran Harness Racing man – a noted trainer who sent many top trotters to Brian Hancock in Sydney – bred some very good pacers with his brother Jim near Forbes before opting for a sea change and moving to the South Coast.
Now based near Moruya, the 75-year-old boutique thoroughbred breeder and trainer will trek back to Sydney.
This time, he’s racing at Rosehill Gardens when last-start winner Lordy Remy takes on the 1100m Class Three Highway Handicap.
“The last time I had a starter in Sydney would have been at Harold Park,” Cassidy laughed.
“I’m probably showing my age there, but I was always in Harness Racing, and I bred stallions with my brother near Forbes, and he is still at Parkes, but we moved to the South Coast.
“There’s no harness racing around here, and when I retired from the hotel industry, I decided to take out my trainer’s licence.
“We got into the breeding side of things, and we’ve got six broodmares and started to sell yearlings and was doing okay, but we couldn’t get into the big-time stuff, and we were happy with the lesser ones, so to speak.
“Don’t get me wrong; we’ve got some nice ones: a Written By, a Russian Revolution colt, two Brutals, and a few nice foals.
“I didn’t take the training too seriously, and I bought this property, and we’ve always had some fun.”
Bred by Cassidy and his son Tristin, who owns the Labasheeda Thoroughbreds operation, Lord Remy is a special horse to connections, being named by Kate Nipperess, who, as an apprentice jockey, suffered spinal injuries in 2016 when a runaway horse crashed into her mount during trackwork.
“Kate used to race Lord Remy’s mother, The Veal Thing,” Cassidy said.
“It was her horse, basically, and after the owners sold it to us, we got in touch with her because of their connection and asked if she would name the horse.
“Remy was the name of Kate’s first pony when she was a little girl, and she was so interested to see how The Veal Thing’s first foal was; she was always in contact with us.
“I had never met Kate at the time, but we have spoken a lot through social media. I’ve always hoped that the horse had talent, for Kate’s sake.”
The Fighting Sun gelding has been a consistent type, starting 16 times for two wins and nine minor placings.
Last time out, he raced on his home track, and with Molly Bourke in the saddle, the pair made every post a winner, claiming a comfortable victory in the 1010m Class One Handicap.
Cassidy uses a lot of hill training with his gallopers, and that’s how he approaches Lord Remy, a bold front-running horse.
“I got into sports medicine and interval training with pacing and got into it with gallopers,” Cassidy said.
“When I bought this property, it was perfect. We work our horses on the hills, which is good for their high heart rates without going quick and putting too much pressure on them.
“It does seem to go well with Remy, and it helps that Maddy (Wright) rides him, and she makes a hell of a difference to my training.
“She is a great rider, with great hands, and well, she is just a good judge and knows how to work them out.”
Lord Remy heads to Sydney as a $14 outsider, but the five-year-old won’t know himself when going around 8kg lighter after Bourke’s three-kilogram metropolitan claim.
“It’s great to have Molly on him again, and she likes to lead and knows him, and we’ll see where they get to from the good gate,” Cassidy said.
“His greatest asset is that he begins well and he is drawn well, and Extravagant Lad is pretty hot off the mark, and he might want to lead, but we’ll test him at the start and see who hands up.
“The thing is, he had 60kg on him last time, and Molly said he had plenty left, so with no weight, hopefully he can get his own way in front.”
The veteran trainer doesn’t know if he has many more city runners left in him, so he’ll make the trip with Tristin, who will strap Lord Remy while his wife Lynne stays home and cheers on from the lounge room.
Incredibly, Kevin Cassidy’s biggest worry in Saturday’s Highway Handicap at Rosehill Gardens could be a horse he bred the same season as Lordy Remy when coming up against the Terry Robinson-trained Tai Lung.
Another Fighting Sun gelding out of Bad Kitty, the five-year-old was bred by Labasheeda Thoroughbreds.
Coincidently, Terry also had a spectacular career in Harness Racing before switching to the gallops.
Small world, huh?