JustHorseRacing write Michael McGill interviews NSW country trainer Nick Olive. View the interview below.
Do you come from a racing background?
Not as such. My dad used to go to the races but he was not working in the Industry.
When did you decide you wanted to be a trainer?
Probably when I was about eight years old as I loved going to the races with Dad and that is all I ever wanted to do. I used to have the race horses all over my walls as a kid and followed all the racing.
You started out in the stud and breeding Industry where did you work and what was the experience like?
I went to Ray Guy’s to start with at Rosehill and Brian his son pulled me aside and said I should get out of here and go work in a Stud for a while. He knew I wanted to make a career of it and he said I would learn so much there.
I then went and worked at Arrowfield Stud when I was eighteen for a year and then I went to University after that.
So from there you went to Barbara Joseph?
I went to Ken Callaghan first in Canberra then on to Barbara. My time with her was awesome and I learnt so much from her. She lived at Bombala a lot of the time so I was there with the team we had and I was the foreman running the place. It was really hands on in training the horses and I had to be across everything. I learnt so much with her.
What is the best piece of advice that she has given you?
There probably wasn’t one big thing it was more a lot of little things. I picked up on all the things we did and then adapted that to my own method.
You went out on your own in 2005. Was it a case of now is the time?
Yes it was. I block of stables came on the market in Canberra and I managed to get those so it all worked out well from there.
Tell us about your first winner. Must have been a massive thrill?
It was Sir Chambray at Canberra and I trained it for a friend I went to University with he missed the start by about three lengths and then weaved through the field and won. It was very exciting.
You won the 2009/10 NSW Country Trainers Premiership. That’s a great achievement in such a short space of time.
Yes it was. Things just went really well and they are still going well but it went really well to start with and I was probably lucky although we did work bloody hard. We had a couple of decent horses. One was Zenarta early on and that was in my first year of training. She won us a couple in Sydney and then I took her down to Melbourne for the carnival where she ran third in the Wakeful then on to the Australasian Oaks in Adelaide. She was only beaten a short half head over there. She helped put my name on the map quite early.
Tell us about Voice Commander. 12 wins with 4 of them at Listed level. Was he a favourite of the stable?
He is my favourite horse we have ever had. He was a Legend. He went from being a sprinter where he won the Weetwood up in Toowoomba to the Wagga Cup which is a big race for everyone around here in Canberra. He was such a great horse.
Did he win the Gundagai, Queanbeyan and Wagga Cups in succession? That’s a great training feat.
That’s right. He did well. A lot of it was because of him and his desire to win. It was really exciting.
Zaratone also had a lot of success. The grey had a good following too.
He was a little Legend. He won on Golden Slipper Day and I think he strung two or three together in Sydney. If he got the race run to suit and was left in front he was very hard to beat. He was such a good horse.
You recently won the Kembla Grange Classic with Single Gaze. Were you confident heading into the race? How much of a thrill was the win?
We were. We were really excited about her and she is definitely the best horse I have ever trained. Going into that race she was really flying and we were also confident that she would run the mile. So yes we were confident going into it.
It is now on to the Vinery Stakes over 2000 metres. What are your thoughts on the step up in distance?
I strongly feel that she will handle it no worries at all. You always have it in the back of your mind that you never know until you try. I am really looking forward to seeing her over it. My gut feeling is that she might even be better over 2000 metres than a mile so I am looking forward to it. You never know until you try. She is probably going as well as any horse going into the race too. Everybody probably just doubts her running 2000 metres.
Your strike rate in 2015/16 sits at 17%. Impressive stats. What do you put that down too; quality of horses and horse placement?
I think more the horse placement. We do have some horses here who are not world beaters but we are trying to increase the quality of the horse. There are some that are not that great but we just try to place them to win and I think that is something we have been very good at over the years.
How many do you have in work at any given time?
We normally have anywhere between 25 and 30 in work.
Richard Bensley has ridden over 100 winners for you. How is he going at the moment after his fall?
He is good actually. He is still in hospital but he is in good spirits. He just has to lie there but he is a bit over it but he is not in pain anymore and just passing the time now. He has his Ipad in there so he can watch the races.
Have you ever thought about training in the City or is Canberra life to good to give up with a young family?
I would love to train in the City but I do have a young family and that is obviously my highest priority at the moment and Canberra is the place to do that.
What’s the best thing about training in Canberra compared to the City?
I think Canberra is a great place to live for one and is a great place to raise kids. As far as the race course goes we have fantastic facilities and the club has really put a lot of money into giving us the best of the best. There is nothing at Randwick that we would not have here. It is also a rural setting so you look at over the hills and it is a really nice location.
Is there one in the stable we should be keeping an eye on in the near future?
I have a two year old called Cool in Black. He is having a good spell at the moment but when he comes back he is a horse that I am quite excited about.
Cheeky Devil is going great guns this season. A real honest and tough type.
She will resume in two weeks in Canberra. She has been great since she came to the stable. She had a really good campaign last time.
What do you love the most about being a horse trainer?
I love the racing obviously and the people in the Industry but I just love fine tuning horses to get the best out of them.
How hard is it to attract new owners? Is it something you need to continually work on?
Yes you do. It takes a lot of effort. We are trying to attract a better class of horse into the stable. And trying to attract those sorts of people does take a lot of effort and time but I do enjoy that too.
Why should people get more involved in the ownership side of horse racing?
At the moment there is no better time to be in the Industry as it is going from strength to strength especially in New South Wales with prize money increases and the great new concepts that have been brought in. It is a great time to get involved.
Nick thank you for your time. And good luck this Saturday!