Former Bathurst butcher chasing 2000
Miracle Mile winning horseman John McCarthy is closing in on training 2000 winners.
The Cobbitty based trainer-driver reached 1998 training wins following Cyclone Kate’s dominate victory at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night.
McCarthy has six horses engaged at Tabcorp Park Menangle tomorrow (Tuesday) and believes if he does not crack the magical 2000 winners then, it will not be long until he reaches the special milestone.
“It’s a tough day at the races tomorrow,” said McCarthy.
“I have babies in the first three races and they are always tough races.
“Our Mels Dream goes well and so does Lord Zin Zan but he is racing one of Mark Purdon’s horses that goes well.
“We might get a winner or two, we might not but hopefully within the week we should be able to get a couple of winners.
“We’ll just keep chipping away until we do . . . it’s not a bad effort to notch up a couple of thousand winners in 20 years.”
McCarthy began training horses in 1985 but it wasn’t until more than 10 years later that he began training horses as a profession.
“I started training horses professionally when I was 37,” said McCarthy.
“I always had horses as a hobby but I was a butcher and I didn’t have the time and it wasn’t until I sold my butcher shop that I started training horses full-time.”
Based in Bathurst at the time, McCarthy saw a change in the meat industry which was the catalyst for him making the switch to harness racing as a career.
“The last butcher shop I had I owned for seven years but I could see the supermarkets taking over,” said McCarthy.
“People weren’t going to the small butcher anymore, they were going to the supermarket because it was convenient . . . we didn’t even have an Eftpos machine and the supermarkets did.
“I thought this was going to be the way of the future and decided to sell out.”
Shortly after this McCarthy packed up the truck with his wife Narelle and four children and headed north to Queensland.
“When we were at Bathurst, during the winter we would always go to Queensland and campaign horses and we liked the warmer weather,” said McCarthy.
“When I started training horses professionally a friend of mine suggested that Queensland could be a good place to start as there was an opening up there without too many big trainers.
“I thought we’d give it a go and we could always go back to Bathurst if it didn’t work out.
“At the time we really didn’t know what to expect we just went along with it and the kids were all little; Todd was three at the time, Jodie and Andy were in primary school and Luke was just starting high school.”
Yet, although this later proved to be a winning move for the McCarthy family, it was not easy.
“The first couple of years were tough and I bought cheap horses just to get us going,” said McCarthy.
“The first day we arrived in Queensland I was regretting the move . . . it was Christmas Eve and we had the truck loaded up with furniture and as it we were unloading it was that hot, I thought to myself what have I done!
“But we got throughout it, we just kept chipping away and worked hard.
“It wasn’t until we had Trois Frere that things changed for us.
“Trois Frere finished third in an Inter Dominion and we started getting more horses after that and things became easier.
“We stayed in Queensland for about 17 years.”
During these years McCarthy has been associated with some top horses from Trois Frere, Cobbity Classic and Be Good Johnny to I Am Sam, Terrorway, Motu Crusader, Nickys Falcon, Washakie, Monifieth, Blazin N Cullen, Bling It On and Cyclone Kate to name a few.
As of today, McCarthy has had 11,477 starters for 1998 wins and 3078 placings, with these results turning over $17,845,308.87 in prizemoney.
He has trained winners in feature races such as the Miracle Mile, the A.G. Hunter Cup, Victoria Cup, WA Cup, Cranbourne Cup, the Queensland Pacing Championship, the Treuer Memorial, Cordina Chicken Farms Sprint and the Trans-Tasman.
In the sulky McCarthy has had 4294 race drives, for 714 wins and 1067 placings.
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