By Brad Gray
Lonhro, Sepoy, Guelph, Helmet, Exosphere, Earthquake, Hartnell, Astern… these are just a few of the names Godolphin assistant trainer Paul Reid casually drops into the conversation as we meander through his 17 years with the operation.
That extends back to when John Hawkes was running the Ingham establishment before it was bought by Darley.
Reid has also seen Peter Snowden, John O’Shea and James Cummings at the helm yet few, outside of racing’s inner circle, would know Reid.
And that’s the way he likes it.
“I normally stay behind the scenes and leave it up to the fellas that like the camera: James and Daz (Darren Beadman),” Reid laughed.
“Not many people know I have been around for that long.”
Reid, raised in Ballina, only ever remembers working with horses. Since he first started walking as a toddler, it’s all he has ever known.
His father George was a prominent horse trainer in the Northern Rivers and one of the region’s leading trainers in the 1980s.
In 2002, Reid, 49, decided to “take a stab in the dark” and call Peter Snowden, who was then assistant trainer under John Hawkes. He was hired and packed his bags for Sydney.
“It is probably the best thing I’ve ever done,” Reid reflects.
“I doubt there has been too many stronger teams than Peter Snowden as assistant trainer and John Hawkes as the head trainer.
“I started at the bottom and it was a privilege to just get a gig with them.”
The legendary ‘Black Flash’ was already there when Reid arrived.
“Lonhro had a great presence about him, when he walked around the place you couldn’t help but admire him. He stood out among the rest of them,” recalled Reid.
After a couple of years in Brisbane with Michael Hawkes until Ingham’s Queensland yard closed, Reid found himself foreman when Peter Snowden was the main man at Darley.
“Peter has been a great influence on me and allowed me to get where I am, mainly through hard work.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for John (O’Shea) and James (Cummings) who were both happy to keep me on, and touch wood, we’ve had a bit of luck,” said Reid.
Reid had a big part to play in Darley’s incredible 2011 clean sweep of the five two-year-old Group Ones, courtesy of Sepoy, Helmet and Benfica.
“Sepoy was unbelievable. He is probably the best two-year-old I’ve had anything to do with.
“That was a big effort, we were half on track to do something similar this year,” said Reid.
Reid’s memory is bursting with highlights including Kiamichi and Microphone taking out this year’s Golden Slipper and Sires’ Produce Stakes.
Also rating mentions are Epaulette being the first Group One winner trained out of Osborne Park, where Reid has been based for the last seven years, getting the injury prone Complacent back to win the Chelmsford Stakes and the rehabilitation of Osborne Bulls but Hartnell’s recent Epsom Handicap win trumps them all.
“Whenever people start doubting him he pops up again,” said Reid of Hartnell.
“Even this campaign just gone, without winning a race, he has made a lot of money and he just keeps proving the knockers wrong. He comes back season after season.”
“From day one Hartnell has been at Osborne Park and from his first start when Contributer beat him in the Chipping Norton.
“He has been a big part of the place and is a special horse to the whole team.
“Beaded was another one of my favourites and her Doomben 10,000 win was a great thrill.
“She was in my barn at Warwick Farm and never ran a bad race; always put in.
“She had attitude, she was a bugger of a horse. She was attacking us the day she won her Group One.
“She was terrible to saddle up and had a lot of attitude for a little horse. I think that showed on the track. She put that attitude into her races.”
Work hard and everything else will follow is the advice Reid took on from Peter Snowden early in his career and it now sees him at the pointy end of Godolphin’s Australian arm.
And Paul was recently rewarded for his craft, meeting Sheikh Mohammed.
“There was an email with an invitation to go to Dubai on my computer and I thought ‘geez what’s going on here, they’ve sent it to the wrong person’.
“I didn’t even have a passport to travel outside of Australia,” he said.
“It was an exceptional trip to meet His Highness, shake his hand and have dinner in his presence. “Being over there, you see he has got a great passion for racing.
“He had a chat to Vin Cox about Avilius after he had won the Tancred Stakes.”
Reid, who has four daughters, works six and a half days a week, starting at 4am to check the worksheets and get trackwork under way but it’s a labour of love. Working long hours, it has to be.
“It’s not like going to work for me, I’ve had different trainers who have all been so good to me. It’s enjoyable.
“I live on the property (Osborne Park) out here at Agnes Banks, my family are not far away and although you spend a lot of time at work, the kids pop down to see me. It’s as good a job as any,” said Reid.
“We spell a lot of the good horses here too, so not only are we preparing horses for the races, James likes to keep them handy so he can monitor their progression while they spell. We have got quite a bit happening all of the time.
“When you have a big team of horses the people out there mucking the boxes, hosing the horses, riding them in trackwork, they are the ones that lead to results on racedays, putting the final touches onto everything.
“We put everything into place but the people on the ground are the unsung heroes.
“To have the success we have had this past season it’s due to everybody pulling their weight and doing their bit.”
*The article was originally published in the June edition of the Racing NSW Magazine