The accountancy course gave way to the racehorse training bug but Tim Donnelly just couldn’t make the city numbers add up.
For that very reason Donnelly and wife Trisha returned home to Wagga Wagga just on nine years ago. Left Sydney’s eastern suburbs life and the stables at Randwick to ensure future prosperity.
“I got up to 24 horses in the end but I couldn’t make the numbers work,” Donnelly said on the eve of Friday’s Wagga Wagga Gold Cup in which he’ll start the Lloyd Williams cast off Devised.
“Unless you were training one Saturday winner a month it wasn’t viable.
“My horses weren’t good enough at the time, it was hard, competing against stables buying 10 and 12 yearlings a year out of the Easter Sale ring.
“I couldn’t compete, I had a pea-gun competing against a nuclear bomb.”
Donnelly reckons at times “my staff were earning more than me” but not any more for when you train no more than 10 horses the employment bill is negligible.
“My son Alex comes in and gives me a hand for a couple of hours each morning before he goes off to uni,” Donnelly said.
The Donnelly family are more than content. More than happy the decision to return home was made and followed through and now for the home town cup.
Devised is going a whole heap better than this time 12 months ago when he was nosed out by the Norm Gardner-trained Coliseo which is a rival again on Friday.
“We’ve targeted the race this year and he has only had the six runs since last year,” Donnelly said.
“He hasn’t missed a race we’ve wanted to run in, he hasn’t missed a day of work, he is going good.
“Last year he was a little disappointing in the lead-up, the rail was out that day and he did get a long way back but I am more confident this year, I know him a lot better.”
Last start Devised made light of 59kg to win the Murrumbidgee Cup over the Wagga Wagga 1800m course on April 14 and the five-year-old drops to 54.5kg on Friday.
Leading bush apprentice John Kissick retains the ride in Friday’s feature which has prizemoney of $140,000.
“Last year he drew barrier 16 and this year he’ll start from barrier four,” Donnelly said.
“I know he is going better than he was last year but he’ll need to be for it is a tougher race this time round.”
Sydney’s premier trainer Chris Waller has the import Illo and Moriarty heading the Wagga Wagga Gold Cup weights.
“They are probably in a kilo to a kilo and half lighter due to the fact Danleigh didn’t accept,” Donnelly said.
“They are the ones to beat but I couldn’t be happier with my horse.”
Couldn’t be happier with life in general and Donnelly knows what cup day means to the local community.
“It is huge, the biggest event in town every year,” Donnelly said.
By Craig Young