Barry Ward gets the job done at Methven

By Mike Love

West Melton trainer Barry Ward completed a "special" day at the races with a hat-trick of training wins yesterday at Mt Harding racecourse. Although the feat is not uncommon, the fact that Ward bred all three winners makes it all the rarer.

“I’ve had two wins and a second at the races before, and trained a double four times. But definitely the first hat trick for me. It’s a pretty special day,” said Ward.

“They all went to Blenheim last week. Mister Blue Sky went okay on the first day, but disappointed on the second day. The other two mares (Times Are A Changing and Hey Tonight) went okay on the first day and much better on the second. So that trip tidied them up, then coming home for a quiet week before today obviously worked out well.”

In Race two Mister Blue Sky claimed his maiden victory at start number 30. Driven by Sam Thornley, Mister Blue Sky secured the trail after leading early. From there it was a waiting game for Thornley to execute the use of the passing lane, where they were able to wear down leader Dean James and hold off a fast late finish from race favourite Victor Lustig who nabbed second, winning by half a neck.

“I was quite surprised because he’d been disappointing to say the least. He does have ability but he doesn't always show it. Hence 30 starts to win his maiden.”

Bred by Ward, the five-year-old Sunshine Beach gelding Mister Blue Sky is out of Washington VC mare Alright Now, who was also bred, owned and trained by Ward.

In Race four Times Are A Changin recorded her eighth career win for Ward and driver Sarah O’Reilly. They were steady away from the tapes over the 2400m journey, settling at the rear of the field. O’Reilly opted to move around the field from the 1550m to the parked position. From there Times Are A Changin showed stamina to nag away at pacemaker On Report, taking the entire 300m straight to hit the lead short of the line, winning by half a neck from the unlucky Style Council who dashed late into second in what was a blanket finish.

“I knew she would be competitive today.”

Times Are A Changin is out of Group 1 winning Bettors Delight mare Paradise City, who Ward also bred, owned and trained.

In the final event Sam Thornley combined again with Ward and Hey Tonight, who secured her sixth career win. Easing off the gate, Thornley was unable to find the running line so moved three wide with cover to sit parked from the mile. Hey Tonight had to call on all of her reserves to hit the lead in the final 30 metres, to win by half a neck from the fast finishing Sargent Best.

“She had to be tough and she is tough. I was confident she would go well.”

The now six-year-old A Rocknroll Dance mare is out of Red River Hanover mare Wonderful Tonight, who again was raced, trained and bred by Ward.

“We will just see what happens with them all now. We will stick to the grass for as long as we can with Mister Blue Sky. The two mares will still be competitive in their company, but again we will look for the grass tracks.”

Ward’s continued success with breeding has been a journey and he will continue moving forward with his found formula.

“I’ve tried various families but I've always come back to this group. It’s been successful for me. Every mare seems to be capable of leaving a nice horse. Years ago we used to breed for the sales but we’ve moved away from that. It’s hard to pick what the buyers want. And to breed to the top stallions can be quite prohibitive.”

Ward trains a team of six from his West Melton base and has trained 139 winners, winning over $1.4 million in stakes.

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