By Brad Gray
One of the stalwarts of New South Wales’ sprinting ranks, Famous Seamus, has been retired. The son of Elusive City won 12 of his 59 starts, placing in a further 10, and amassed $1,322,750 in prize money over a six year career.
“A few of the staff were very sad about it but you have to be realistic. He is and eight-year-old rising nine and is restricted very much by the weather,” said Noel Mayfield-Smith referencing his poor record on wet ground.
“He still is very much part of the furniture. He has got his own paddock here. I’ve got to talk to the owners yet to see what they want to do but our plan at the moment is to keep him in the paddock during the day and box him at night while the winter is here.
“He was a very sound horse. We never has any leg trouble with him all the way through. He is quite youthful for his age. At this stage we’ll give him a few months to chill out.”
Of Famous Seamus’s 12 wins, eight were at black type level and it comes as no surprise as to which victory stands out in Mayfield-Smith’s mind.
“Probably the BTC Cup because I always said he was up to Group One standard and he proved it in that race against some pretty good company. The Manikato was a really big thrill too. He was unlucky in that.”
In his BTC Cup win Famous Seamus beat Queensland stars Spirit Of Boom and Buffering yet despite his brilliant record he was still very much an underrated horse in his trainer’s mind.
“He was underrated because he had a narrow margin on what sort of tracks he could perform on. He won two Tatts Lightnings and they were both on quick tracks. He competed in three TJ Smiths but it was a waste of time putting the saddle on him because the tracks were soft. That restricted his record and probably also what people thought of him as far as being a really top horse.”
“He was a very enthusiastic worker and once he straightened he’d just grab the bit and go. He didn’t function down the six at Flemington though. Tim Clark said to me one day that he just has no idea when to go. When you ride him on the circuit as soon as you turn he starts to pick the bit up but down the straight he doesn’t know when to go.”
Famous Seamus was purchased by his owners in New Zealand after they had had previous success with his half-brother Dooley Jones, who won three races for Mayfield-Smith, all at Kembla Grange.
“I think he was passed in and the owner bought him for the Ready To Runs but he was a rig and they had trouble getting him onto the track over there so they sent him over to me. He was quite spooky early on and we had a fair bit of trouble with him getting him to the barriers.”
When the penny finally dropped it became apparent that Mayfield-Smith had something special on his hands and since then it has been smooth sailing for Famous Seamus who was prepared for 12 campaigns, winning a race in nine of them.
“I had a bloke ride him in a gallop before he ever started and he said to me this is a Group One horse. On another occasion a different bloke rode him on a soft track and said this horse is hopeless in shifting ground. He won’t handle wet tracks. That was before he ever raced,” Mayfield-Smith recalled.
“It’s been an amazing, carefree ride. He just stepped up season after season without too much going wrong with him. He won’t be an easy horse to replace in a lot of ways. He is such a likeable horse.”
Famous Seamus didn’t sign off a winner last Saturday at Rosehill but instead retires with his last win at his Hawkesbury home track running the quinella with his stablemate Unequivocal.