Name a more in-form country trainer than Nick Olive. We’ll wait.
It’s hard to do because when you look at the numbers, you realise the Queanbeyan-based trainer is in the midst of a remarkable run.
Trainers endure the ebbs and flows of racing, but the wheel has been turned in Olive’s direction for a considerable time.
With his last 45 starters, which stretches back to late October, Olive has won 14 races at a strike rate of 31.1%
That golden run includes Invincible Dash’s Queanbeyan Cup defence on October 29, a double over the Snake Gully Cup carnival in November, doubles at Canberra and Queanbeyan in December, and five maiden victories.
Olive, who moved from Canberra to Queanbeyan in late 2022, has experienced the highs and lows of the racing industry and knows how quickly it can turn, but he is enjoying his stable’s recent run.
“It does feel like we’ve been on this good run for a while,” Olive told NSW Country and Picnic Racing.
“We moved to Queanbeyan, and it took a while to work things out, and I feel that now we’ve worked things out, things are going great.”
Olive joined the exodus of trainers from Canberra with increasing costs of workers’ compensation in the ACT, essentially forcing Olive’s hand.
“I’ve got a good team behind me, and I think another thing is the mental pressure of trying to survive in Canberra,” Olive said.
“It felt like it was day-to-day training to survive there with the worker’s comp drama, and when we moved to Queanbeyan, that lifted off my shoulders, and I could focus on training.
“We still have the same staff, and I’ve never been one to cut corners, but now, that pressure is not there, and I think the staff know that, and it takes the pressure off everyone.”
The Queanbeyan stable has good horses and Country Cup campaigners, such as Invincible Dash and Ready To Humble, then some good up-and-coming types, including Final Comment, Just Go Bang, and Toes In The Water.
Still, Olive’s ability to produce good maidens in recent months suggests his stable will only get stronger.
“I suppose we’ve put the steps in place over the last fews years to go that way,” Olive said.
“You need luck as well, and all the horses have stayed sound, but we have a nice balance.
“There’s been a lot of maiden winners over the last few months that look like being nice horses, and we haven’t pushed them yet, and we’ve turned them out, and now they are coming back in.”
With 20 to 25 in work at any given time, Olive is the biggest trainer at Queanbeyan, and he, along with the Queanbeyan Race Club, is working hard to maintain and upgrade facilities.
“We’ve got the course proper, which we get regular use of, and there is the fast sand, slow sand, and bull ring,” Olive said.
“There is also a swimming pool, and we just got that up and going in the last few weeks, and I’ve put a walker in there.
“It’s definitely not the facility Canberra has, which is top of the range, but for a country facility, it is good, and the good thing is that the club are improving a lot of it.
“The club there is doing a great job, with a few things going forward.”
Good staff and jockeys make Olive’s life easier, and he is blessed to have the likes of Billy Owen, Coriah Keatings, and Quayde Krogh in his corner.
Keatings, who’s indentured to Olive, has been riding well of late, and since making the move to Queanbeyan, the 22-year-old has found her feet and is regularly riding winners.
“Coriah is a fantastic kid and such a great person and good worker,” Olive said.
“She has a really good commitment to the stable and wants to see success as much as we do.
“She has worked hard on herself personally, especially her strength and riding, which is paying dividends, and that’s good to see.
“She went through a period where she was struggling, and she did well to turn that around, and having people like that in the stable and working with them, it can be quite infectious, and she has a good impact on the team.”
One of Olive’s biggest assets has been Billy Owen, who grew up learning his trade under Olive’s watchful eye.
“Billy’s so valuable; he has been with me since he started in racing, and he was an apprentice to us. Plus, he is a good mate of mine,” Olive said.
“Where he is so valuable at the stable is our good working relationship; we have pretty similar values and ideas about horse racing, and you need someone that can ride and have good communication, and we always seem to be on the same page.
“I don’t ride trackwork myself, and having Billy is such a valuable tool. I can throw him on anything, and we have that same understanding and know what we want to achieve, and I trust what he has to say.”
A good pick-up for Olive has been the race riding of Quayde Krogh, who’s linked with the Barbara Joseph, Paul and Matt Jones team.
In a short period, Krogh has taken 39 rides for the stable, winning eight times at a strike rate of 20.5%)
“With Quayde, he just put his hand up one day, and he’s just a good bloke,” Olive said.
“He said, ‘If you ever want me to come ride work, I’m here’, and we don’t call on him that often, but he did that early on, and I’ll never forget that.
“He’s since become an integral part of our stable, and with Billy and Coriah, he’s been able to ride us a lot of winners.
A top-tier trainer known best for his association with Group 1-winning mare Single Gaze, Olive has achieved most things in the sport.
He also trained Group and Listed winners Zaratone and Voice Commander, claimed the NSW Country Trainer’s premiership in 2009/10 (63 wins), and has won countless Canberra Trainer Premierships.
Recently, Olive surpassed 700 career wins to put him on 711, which is an incredible feat, considering he prepared his first winner in 2000 but didn’t launch his stable until 2005.
When asked about the future and any big goals he wanted to achieve, Olive was focused solely on getting the best out of each horse in his stable.
“There isn’t anything really,” Olive said.
“I don’t think about it that way, and we’ve gone well, but I feel content with what we have done and have achieved, and I’m just happy with what I’m doing.
“I used to be like that when I was younger and chased premierships and big wins, but my goal is to do things right every day, which is the goal of the stable.
“All we want to do is get the best out of every horse, and if we do that and create little goals for races when the time comes, the wins will keep coming.”
Olive and his team are back racing at Albury on Thursday, and in-form jockey Quayde Krogh takes two rides when jumping aboard Blazing Beverly in the Country Boosted Maiden Handicap and Sooboogeliscious in the Country Boosted Benchmark 58 Handicap.