You could call it a carefully planned ambition and it’s driving Danielle Seib to not just be seen as a country trainer.
Goulburn is home, and a happy one, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room to strive for more.
It’d be easy to put Seib’s seemingly sudden appearance on the scene, with regular TAB Highway success the cornerstone, down to a lucky streak but to the 29-year-old it’s a sign that the plans set in place five or six years ago are coming to fruition.
It goes back to when Assasult’n’bathory, a horse picked out by her late father Lewis Seib who passed away in 2017, was the stable star and Seib and her partner Aaron Day set out to take risks and take as much advantage of the lucrative state of racing as they could.
“Aaron and I sat down and said ‘we’re good at what we do, we’re both very dedicated, we’re very hands on and we want to pursue this’,’’ Seib said.
“The last six to 12 months we’re just where we were hoping we would be. I’d like to continue to build the quality and be heading to Sydney more.
“It’s the best and most competitive racing jurisdiction and if you don’t want to be going there more what are you doing it for?”
Country racing is booming. Seib said it’s part of the reason young trainers can be bold and ambitious with $120,000 on offer for TAB Highways in Sydney week in, week out, country boosted races and increased minimum prizemoney for country races.
Plus the top end incentives of the $1.85 million Newhaven Park Country Championships series and $2 million The Kosciuszko to aim at.
Assault’n’bathory won two Highways in the 2019/2020 season and took Seib to her first Country Championships in 2020 where he ran fifth in the South East feature run at Moruya.
Then there’s Tudor Prince, a horse she took over with a 57 rating and in one preparation last year won four races on end including handing her first non-Highway metropolitan win.
“The prizemoney is so phenomenal and it only takes a Class 2 or 3 country horse to get you to the races on Saturday and get the exposure,’’ she said.
“I don’t think you can comprehend how many people see your name, see your horse, it’s very far reaching and for a country stable to be able to do that on a Saturday is great.
“For your good quality run of the mill country horse there’s a chance to win one or maybe two Highways and get good prizemoney.
“The country boosted races are phenomenal but at the same time the city horses coming into country race meetings is not necessarily a bad thing, it makes you reassess the quality of your stable.”
It’s noticeable that Seib’s Highway winners King Of Spades and Smokeshow have carried the Champion Thoroughbreds colours and she says partnering with the syndicators has not only swelled her numbers but added some of the quality she’s looking for to grow.
She says the importance of having supporters can’t be understated.
In the background Seib and Day have been active at yearling sales and over the past couple of years have outlaid around $500,000 in looking for good quality horses to be competitive in the city.
Therein lies the risk they’ve taken given her horse numbers have only just moved into the 30s.
“In the training ranks I suppose it takes a long time, the wheels turn slowly,’’ she said.
“We went to the yearling sales and two years in a row we spent $200,000 – $250,000 of our own money with no clients up front to put the money up.
“We backed that we could train winners in meantime, get people interested and get clients on board to fill spots in those horses which we’ve done. And now, in two or three years, we’re going to have some nice young horses coming through the ranks.
“In the meantime we’ve got horses off clients, we went down the Inglis digital and bloodstock auction path and got some tried horses so people could see we were training winners.
“It’s really nice to be getting rewards off the back of foresight and planning by us.
“We’re both pretty confident young people and just backed ourselves. It was great to get Champion on board, that made it easier financially and gave us that little bit of confidence we’re being recognised for our efforts.”
Aaron Day, 29, could be regarded as Seib’s secret weapon. He’s a member of the successful harness racing family, so horses are in his blood, he manages the stable and he comes with the bonus of being a farrier.
The pair met when working for Danny Williams at Goulburn, where Seib only worked for about three months before the chance to train her own team came about.
At the time she was also teaching science at Crookwell High School.
“We left there and started building our own team,’’ she said.
“Aaron is, I guess, the right hand and my eyes when I’m out on the track riding work. He runs the things on the ground, all the little things that are important that need fine attention to detail.
“We’ve had a lot of horses with little issues we’ve been able to manage very well. It starts with their feet and Aaron is a terrific horseman. We like to keep it pretty simple.”
Of course, it’s well documented that Seib decided to move away from teaching school children a couple of years ago to focus full time on educating thoroughbreds to be winners.
It was a fallback, she says, “to appease Dad” who came from a time when training horses was more a hobby than a career for most people. And her rise since that decision is evidence the long term plan is on track.
“It’s an industry similar to racing, they struggle for staff and I know I could walk back in the door tomorrow and I’d be fine,’’ she said.
“It never felt like a risk, I always felt like this is where I should be.
“Dad came from the days where it was five or six thousand (dollars) to win in the country and you couldn’t raise a family and train eight horses and pay somebody to ride them, shoe them and the rest of it, and make a living.”
– *This article originally appeared in the March 2023 edition of the Racing NSW magazine