Steve Farley – As “Sincero” As You Can Get

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Steve Farley – As “Sincero” As You Can Get

By John Curtis

YOU could never question STEVE FARLEY about being “sincero”!

Such is the Wyong trainer’s love for his thoroughbreds that four of his now retired winners – including “the best horse by a mile” Sincero – remain in his care.

Flooding earlier this year at Farley and his wife Saarah’s six and a half acre property not far from the track resulted in his dual Group 1 winner being moved to nearby Jilliby, where the sprightly 15-year-old is running around in a paddock with another former racehorse Brave Lancer (the pair between them notched up 22 wins).

“There is more grass at the place at Jilliby, and Sincero is in great fettle,” Farley said.

“I went out there last week to trim his feet.”

Whilst Sincero isn’t far away, another three of Farley’s retired horses – who won a total of 21 races – are enjoying life at home.

They are the trainer’s second best winner Go Go Apollo (10 wins), OurBillyDaKid (six wins), and his first ever winner, the now 23-year-old Mr Marvellous, who won another four after breaking through in a 1300m Newcastle Maiden on November 2, 2002 at his fourth start.

“Mr Marvellous has been leased a few times to be used at pony clubs, and will never be sold,” Farley said.

And that’s not all. Another of his good performers Gazza Guru, whose nine wins included two South Grafton Cups and a Taree Cup (and was placed in three Wyong Cups and a Newcastle Cup) is also being looked after in retirement at Wagga by one of his former employees Megan Manning.

“Those horses mean so much to us,” Farley said. “They are all being well looked after for the rest of their days.”

Farley has never been too far away from his beloved home track.

Wyong trainer Steve Farley. (Source: News Limited)


He was born at Gloucester, and three years later moved with his family to the Central Coast, where his father Brian managed a stud farm at Yarramalong.

When Farley was seven years of age, his Dad was appointed caretaker at Wyong racecourse, which then not only hosted racing, pacing and greyhound meetings but also the annual Agricultural Show.

“I started helping out Ron Tilley (former successful Wyong trainer) cleaning out boxes before and after school to earn some pocket money,” he recalled.

An even closer involvement in the industry followed when he worked for fellow trainers Neville McBurney (who prepared Brave Lancer before later joining Farley’s team) and Gordon Yorke (with whom he was foreman for five years), and riding trackwork at Wyong and breaking-in horses before taking out his own licence at the turn of the century.

The last horse he broke in was a Umatilla youngster he purchased for only $8000 at the 2009 Inglis Classic yearling sale at their old Newmarket site.

He was the last foal of his dam Yours As Always, and earned his name from her. Racing as Sincero, he won 12 of his 30 starts and collected nearly $1.8m prizemoney until his retirement in October, 2014.

Farley knew what he was doing when he bought Sincero, and expected him to fetch more than what proved to be truly a bargain buy.

“I was training his half-brother Zarzeus (by Zariz) at the time, and he had raced a few times and won a Newcastle Maiden and been placed on three occasions, including one in town,” he said.

“Zarzeus raced at Gosford the same day we bought Sincero, and finished up winning five races for us.

“Zarzeus had as much ability as Sincero, but was a bit weak when the going got tough. He didn’t have the same will to win.

“Sincero was gelded early on as he was a bit of a handful, and could gallop from the first time I began to work him along.

“I thought he would make a nice midweek city horse for us, and remember the late Guy Walter once telling me that Group 1 horses don’t walk into your stable before racing, but just keep improving.”

Sincero certainly did that.

He won seven of his eight starts as a three-year-old, including the Gosford and Scone Guineas, as Farley plotted a path toward Brisbane’s feature sprint, the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm, toward season’s end.

“Sincero won four in a row, at Newcastle and then on the Kensington track and two at Randwick, in the latter part of 2010,” he said.

“But we had a bit of a hiccup toward the Stradbroke when he came back, because of programming issues.

“I had planned the Stradbroke as his fourth run, and had to run him in the QTC Cup at Eagle Farm a week before after he won both the Gosford Guineas and Inglis Guineas at Scone.

“The Hawkesbury Guineas was also on the program, but that was only a week after he won on a Heavy 10 at Gosford and didn’t want to back him up so quickly.”

Sincero fell out of favour with punters to some extent – and certainly with jockey Glen Boss – after he flopped in the QTC Cup as a $3.30 favorite.

“Bossy was booked to fly back from Hong Kong to ride him in the Stradbroke, but I found out from the media a day or two after the QTC Cup that he had decided not to come,” Farley said.

“So I had to chase around for a jockey to ride him at 50.5kg, and booked lightweight Gold Coast rider Jason Taylor.

“Jason’s wife Alana suggested he come and ride him work at Deagon on the Wednesday morning a few days before the Stradbroke.

“I remember asking well-known Brisbane trainer Pat Duff to clock Sincero as I didn’t know where the markers were, and he said it was very fast work.

“Jason left straight afterwards to ride at a meeting that day, and It wasn’t until after the Stradbroke I knew exactly how good the work was. When Bernie Cooper interviewed Jason on Sky and asked him when he was confident about winning on Sincero, he told her it was when he rode him work those few days earlier.”

Farley was confident Sincero could bounce back. “I floated him to Queensland on the Thursday night before the QTC Cup on the Saturday, and he was a bit of a b….. to travel,” he said.

Dual Group 1 winner Sincero. (Source: turfstars media)


“He was unusually quiet in his stall and raced flat that day, so I stayed in Brisbane with him the next week and he was a different horse when we saddled him up for the Stradbroke.”

Sincero’s other Group 1 triumph was in the George Main Stakes (1600m) at Randwick in the spring of 2011, and he was unlucky not to have had three victories at racing’s elite level on his record.

He also won the Group 2 Memsie Stakes (1400m) first-up at Caulfield the following spring for Michael Rodd, and it was upgraded to a Group 1 a year later.

Chris O’Brien had a wonderful association with Sincero, partnering him in all but two of his dozen wins, and couldn’t ride him in the Stradbroke at his light weight.

“Nothing against Chris whatsoever as he did a terrific job on the horse,” Farley said. “But when I took Sincero to Melbourne a second time for another crack at the Cox Plate in 2012, I felt it was best to go for a local jockey.”

Farley’s career hit a hurdle in May, 2016 when RacingNSW stewards outed him for 12 months over an elevated cobalt reading taken from Di’s Diamond, which finished second last (seven ran) at Taree earlier that year.

“I was charged with presenting the filly to race with a prohibited substance in its system above the limit, not administering it,” he said.

“It was a real kick in the guts for sure. Racing was virtually all I had ever done, and it was my first and only offence.”

True to his character, he put the severity of the penalty aside, and made the most out of his enforced time away from the industry.

Wife Saarah being a Kiwi, the couple went back to New Zealand for a visit for the first time since they were married in 2000, and ticked off other bucket list items such as the Tamworth Country Music Festival and Coonamble Rodeo over the June long weekend.

A couple of his long-standing owners persuaded him to renew his licence when his ban was over – but this time with a difference.

Instead of renting 24 boxes on course at Wyong, he cut right back and now has only seven horses in work on his property.

“I enjoy training horses, and have been doing that along with helping out five hours a day at Bella Lodge at Wyong Creek,” Farley said. “Life is good.”

As for the winner of 200-plus races getting back to the heady days of Sincero and company when he trained full-time, there was a succinct response.

“You never say never,” he offered. And he couldn’t have said it more sincerely!

. HOOFNOTE: Affectionately known as “Crusher”, Farley’s nickname arose from his following of the Manly rugby league team, in particular their former star second-rower Noel “Crusher” Cleal.

And, whilst he still follows the Sea Eagles, he admits to being disappointed, along with other Manly fans, with their performances in the last few games, crashing out of finals contention.

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