Ward still Rockin’ and Rollin’
By Dave Di Somma - Harness News Desk
To peruse the names of Barry Ward’s horses over the years is like walking through music’s Hall of Fame.
Clearly an old school rocker, the 63 year old Canterbury-based trainer has been inspired by global megastars such as The Rolling Stones, Guns N’Roses, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, and Pearl Jam.
So it was only fitting that a horse named after a Pink Floyd song “Comfortably Numb” produced the goods for Ward and driver John Dunn at Addington last Thursday. Remarkably it was long overdue, being her first win at start number 46.
“She’s not the smartest cookie in the jar,” says Ward, “it’s just taken a while. Johnny Dunn is the only one who can really get her to run.”
Comfortably Numb has the same breeding as Ward’s Caduceus Club Classic winner Paradise City. Both are by Bettor’s Delight out of 10-race winner Child in Time. Paradise City being a Guns N’Roses anthem, Child in Time a hit by Deep Purple. Other horses named after Axl Rose’s band have been November Rain and Sweet Child of Mine.
From Paradise City by Mach Three was the U2-inspired Angel of Harlem. Sold to Perth in 2017 she has won 11 from 33 and over $200K. The horse was originally going to be called Lisa Carrington but it didn’t go through.
The guitar has been acknowledged in Ward's horses through Satriani, Telecaster and Stratocaster and there’s been also been an homage to metal merchants Metallica with Enter Sandman and Nothing Else Matters. One band though rates higher than any other
“It’s got to be the Stones,” he said.
Get Off My Cloud is one horse name he is proud of because she was by Tinted Cloud out of Fell Off.
An Aerosmith-flavoured favourite was : “Walk This Way was by Fake Left from Traffic, so that was a cool name.”
Not surprisingly when it comes to radio stations there are only two in Barry Ward’s world – The Sound and The Rock.
“I used to have a fantastic collection , vinyl and CDs but the kids used them as frisbees and chewed on them.” Though he says he still has about 100 LPs that have survived.
His interest in harness racing was piqued when he was part of a crew building a barn for Dennis Smolenski on his property just outside Christchurch.
“I saw him working the horses and thought that would be a cool thing to do.”
Since the 1980s Ward reckons he’s bred, owned and trained “over 100” horses. Fifty three individual starters have made it to the races.
Of the ones with rock-related names, Stairway to Heaven was a Led Zeppelin – Pink Floyd collaboration , with the horse being by Christian Cullen out of Wish You Were Here.
He’s also got a fun fact about boom sire Downbytheseaside --- “That’s a Led Zep song”.
Indeed it is, from 1975 album, Physical Graffiti.