Todd Smart Brings A Stayers Pedigree to Canberra Racing

Former Wagga trainer Todd Smart is now well settled into his Canberra stables and came to the capital with a clear objective — to train a Melbourne Cup winner.

And he has a racing pedigree well-fitted to achieving this ambition.

Gundagai-born Smart (34) began his love affair with horses as a 15-year old helping out locally at Dave Blundell’s stables and then travelled to London for several years and worked as a welder on Wembley stadium with Multiplex.

But the racing bug had bit and with the help of a friend came home and secured a position with the John O’Shea stable in Sydney.

“I did a welding apprenticeship because I was a ‘hands on’ type of person with not much interest continuing at school,” Smart says.

“Before London I rode bulls on the rodeo circuit in Canada for nine months before a shoulder injury put paid to that.

“While in London I decided it was time do something I was really passionate about — and that was working with thoroughbred racehorses.”

After his stint with O’Shea, Smart moved to Melbourne taking up a position as assistant trainer with Colin Little at Lord Lodge, where he worked for five years with outstanding horses including W. S. Cox Plate winner El Segundo, Sydney Cup winner Ista Kareem and BMW victor Bluetigeroo.  

“A position then opened as a foreman at the Lloyd Williams establishment at Macedon Lodge where Smart’s good friend Henry Dwyer was leaving to establish his own stables.

It was with the multiple Melbourne Cup winning Williams and under the tutelage of head trainer Robert Hickmott and Racing Manager Lee Freedman that Smart caught the “staying bug”.

“Now Ballarat trainer Archie Alexander was also there at the time and Freedman was a terrific mentor and just a good all-round guy.  

“The first year we had six runners in the Melbourne Cup and Fawkner delivered for the stable in the Caulfield Cup.

“The principal thing I learned from all three trainers was the importance of attention to detail — an understanding of what a horse is capable of.

“You can’t leave any stone unturned. Every horse is different.”

On his second day at Macedon Smart met his partner Jehanne and after two years and a baby on the way he decided it was time to move back closer to home and establish his own training business.

“At Wagga we were only 40 minutes away from family and establishing a new business is quite an undertaking.

“With the bub almost due it probably wasn’t the best of timing, but it’s all worked out well.

“I have a wonderful family and Jehanne and our two boys are also chasing my dreams.

“Moving to Canberra opened up a lot more options for the stable and the facilities here are second to none.

“Walkers, swimming pool and the new synthetic track is going to be terrific when it’s all up and going.

“I have 12 walk-in, walk-out boxes and with Sydney so close I now have a much more complete product to sell to owners.”

Smart is looking to building the quality of his racing stock.

“I can obviously train horses to race all distances, but have a strong background in preparing stayers and recently brought a High Chaparral filly with a race like the Oaks in mind.”

Smart will return to his old stomping ground Gundagai at weeks-end for the Snake Gully Cup carnival, but says Attainment and Cherry Court will only run if the rain comes.

“Attainment is a solid chance if there is cut out of the track and Cherry Court is a dead set wet tracker and will race in the Hair Of The Dog on the Saturday if the track is deep — and you can forgive the latest run.”