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Gentleman Barry finds his lovely Lucy

 

Nearing 81 years of age, Toowoomba horseman Barry Squair has been waiting his entire life for a horse like his cherished Love You Lucy.

In the twilight of his training career after decades as a premiership winning rider before that, the Group 2 Dane Ripper Stakes winner last year has come at the back of his illustrations career in the racing industry.

He no longer rides track work in the mornings but that does not mean the legend of Queensland racing is anywhere near retirement.

Set to turn 81 in October, Squair is still as sharp as ever – in the way he dresses, always immaculate with a fresh haircut and clean shave.

As well as his terrific memory – regularly rattling off race results from almost 40 years ago with all the details about who ran where or the horse that just rolled him on the winning post.

For the gentleman of the Darling Downs, the buzz and excitement of the racing industry keeps him ticking along, over 60 years since he began in the game in Townsville as a teenager.

He was born in Chillagoe and has settled in Toowoomba with wife of over 50 years, Valerie, with two daughters and grandchildren these days as well.

Although Squair does not ride work any more, a busted shoulder and sore hand stopped that last year, he thinks training and being in the game keeps his mind and body alert and active.

“It is a buzz you get when one of yours can gallop,” Squair said.

“You think “jeez we can win a few more yet”.

“It is the excitement, wherever you can win a race, no matter where it is, it is a lot of excitement, that is what keeps you going, it is fun.

DSC-0453.jpg“I think it is great.

“You do not want to be sitting around at my age, that is when you die.

“I like to keep moving.”

He has trained some top horses over the journey, G’Day Old Mate won 12 races for almost $300,000 in prize money, among other several metropolitan winners – but none can compare to current stable star - Love You Lucy.

The five-year-old mare is clearly the best Squair, who learnt from some of the best including the great Jim Atkins, has ever trained, he thinks.

It was a victory at Ipswich in October of 2019 that gave the veteran trainer the feel she was on the way up among the best in the Sunshine State.

That was just a Ratings Band 0-65 Handicap on a Thursday as “Lucy”, as she is called around the stables, bolted in by three lengths that gave Squair the hope she could become a Group level horse.

“You do not get horses like her very often,” he says.

“I knew she was very good that day and then she went on with it since then, winning five since then.

“She is my best one for sure.”

Love You Lucy
Barry Squair Next Racing

DSC-4481.jpgLove You Lucy is back in pre-training after a spell in the paddock since November, targeting a return at the Gold Coast on QTIS Jewel Day in the middle of March.

Do not be surprised if Love You Lucy can win another big race come winter carnival in 2021 either, with Squair having big plans for the mare.

If you were to be at Clifford Park in Toowoomba in the morning, you would be shocked to know Love You Lucy is a Group 2 winning horse, her trainer thinks.  

“For one to come along like that, when she started off, she did not do much on the track and I could not get a good guide on her,” he said.

“Slow horses were beating her in gallops on the track, but we put her on the track on race day and she is a different horse.

“I could get the slowest horse around at track work today and they would beat her, but it is a different kettle of fish at the races.

“I have no idea why it is.”

The former jockey called time on his career in the saddle just over 25 years ago to take up the training game, winning multiple premierships in Toowoomba as well as Cup races, in northern towns like Mackay and Innisfail.

In all those years, he has only ever had the one apprentice jockey in his stable – the now dual-licensed Townsville-based Carl Spry.

Spry these days takes on apprentices of his own as a trainer in north Queensland and says Squair put him on the right path in life, not just in racing, but for how he should treat people and act in a professional manner.

He says Barry and Valerie were like parents to the teenage kid who was trying to make it as a hoop in south-east Queensland.

Cleos-Poet.jpg“Bazz and Valerie, they were firm but fair with me,” Spry (right) recalled.

“We never lived under the same roof, but we were not far off it.

“They were like parents to me for a long time there.

“I only moved over to work with Barry two months after I lost my sister, they were great, they helped me out a lot, which I needed as a late teenager.”

As a former jockey himself, Squair helped Spry keep his weight down in a safe manner as the pair still speak on birthdays and Christmas.

These days in Toowoomba, the Squair’s run a curtains business, which keeps them busy, employing almost 10 people at their shop.

Barry was still riding his own track work until just 12 under months ago when Love You Lucy tipped him off one morning.

Valerie told him that riding his own work, at age 79 at the time, was a thing of the past as she did not want him risking getting seriously hurt or worse.

Barry did not argue with his lovely wife but says riding track work before that played a big role in his activeness at his age.

 “It is the best thing in the world for fitness, riding a race horse,” he said.

“They are not like ponies, they pull a bit, but you are using every muscle in your body – legs, neck, shoulders and everything.

“I rode all the young ones up until early next year.”

Another side affect of the track work fall is Squair can no longer get on the golf course with his sore shoulder.

He was down to a handicap of nine at one stage and would play regularly.

As a jockey that has ridden at most of the tracks in Queensland from Eagle Farm out to the west and up to the north, Squair rates Blackall, Longreach and Winton as his favourite bush courses over the journey.