By Tony Megahey
Gundagai’s Todd Smart gave up rodeo riding and Rugby League for the not so rough and tumble career of racehorse training and, in his most productive season, fancies his chances at value at Sunday’s Orange TAB meeting.
Smart, acutely educated in his training apprenticeship employed by Lloyd Williams and Colin Little in Victoria and then by John O’Shea in Sydney, has trained 12 winners this season.
He has four runners from a rapidly growing Canberra stable competing at Orange on Sunday.
From maiden Bubbler through to well performed stayer Great Glen in the Cup Prelude, then restricted grade runners High Street and Honeysuckle Choice, Todd rates the latter pair as his strongest hopes.
And there could be no stronger push than Brodie Loy, coming off a winning treble at Albury on Thursday, riding High Street and Honeysuckle Choice.
“Yep massive bonus. We’ve got some realistic chances, Honeysuckle Choice is my best - super consistent mare, race fit, been crying out for 1400m and Brodie with the form he’s in,” Todd enthused.
“High Street is a cheeky chance as well. We’ve got her back where we wanted after some issues.
Honeysuckle Choice runs second at Sapphire Coast on March 2
"She’s trialled really well and some gear changes have made all the difference. She’s won three races and we think she’s in for a really strong prep. Will run well.
“Great Glen is way back in grade from that Canberra Cup won by that really hot staying prospect Mugatoo and his previous form was solid enough for this grade.”
Early days at Gundagai, Todd was an accomplished regional rodeo rider and junior equestrian.
“I loved bull and horse riding and my footy but I wanted to make a career as a horse trainer - I’m strictly on the ground now with the numbers we’ve got,” he said.
“But I still follow the footy, my racing colours are black and gold. They’re the colours of the Gundagai Tigers where I played all my junior footy and of course the old Balmain Tigers who always had strong links with Gundy footy.
“My favourite horse, as a kid, was Carvalin. He raced in black and gold and won over 20 races around the Riverina.”
Carvalin was trained by Danny Armstrong, an accomplished Gundagai League player in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.
He was in the Gundagai team of 1972 when the town’s favourite footy son Peter Jones, a former Rugby Union international, NSW League rep and Balmain team-mate of Arthur Beetson, returned home as player-coach.
Gundagai, and for that matter all Riverina towns, have maintained strong and traditional links with Rugby League.