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Trainer Phil Bobic enjoying learning experiences in racing

IMG-2803.jpgBy Jordan Gerrans

One aspect of training horses underlines just how far Phil Bobic has come in his development and knowledge in the racing industry.

The 37-year-old can laugh about it now but when it happened, he certainly was not in a joking mood.

Bobic grew up riding quarter horses and went on to have an extensive career in dressage and show jumping, before almost a year ago turning to race horses.

He thought he was all ready to have his first starter - gelding Espanyol - who would actually deliver him his first career winner around nine months later.

“The first lot of horses I nominated for races I did not know I had to accept them (laughs),” he recalled on Thursday morning just hours after his maiden victory as a trainer.

“It was little things like that.

“I entered them in the race and thought great that is all set before realising I needed to accept them in the race, also.

“It was not funny at the time but we look back now and see that it was a mistake.”

The chestnut, Espanyol, became the Ipswich-based Bobic stable's first ever winner on Wednesday afternoon at Kilcoy’s non-TAB race day.

As well as accepting and nominating horses, another key element of Bobic’s growth as a trainer is understanding where and when to place his gallopers.

Espanyol went 20 starts without winning before Wednesday – half of which came with his former trainer Les Kelly and the other half with Bobic.

And, in those starts with his second trainer, Bobic eventually realised Espanyol liked to get out in front and lead and would often then get run down in the straight.

So, heading to a track like Kilcoy would be perfect with a shorter run for home following the final turn.

Under apprentice Olivia Kendal, Espanyol was able to scoot ahead before the turn and score by almost two lengths on Wednesday in a maiden over 1100 metres.



IMG-2808.jpgMuch of that learning Bobic credits towards the Sears stable on the Darling Downs.

Outside of training, Bobic runs Universal Stables, which includes pre-training and spelling gallopers, which the Sears’ family are regulars at.

“They have been instrumental in the training side of things and generous with their knowledge,” Bobic said.

“They were the first people on the phone after the winner.

“They were proud and a really good support, helping me transition from performance horses to racing.”

He also picked up tricks of the trade while working for Lloyd Williams at Flemington for a couple of years.

The up-and-coming horseman uses plenty of his experiences from his dressage and show jumping background with his race horses, riding them on the arena or jumping them, which Espanyol is a regular with.

Espanyol does not regularly go to the Ipswich track for gallops, which has helped him settle down mentally and led to his improved performances on race day.

“We have brought over much of the management style over to the race horses as far as feeding and things like that, I do not give the race horses a lot of grain,” Bobic said.

“I feed them a high fibre diet; I am all for gut health.

“I have kept that quiet because if the horses were running last, I did not want anyone to know that (laughs), but enough time has passed now and all the horses I have raced so far, the horses are improving.”

The Universal Stables property has around 60 horses on it, split between show horses, pre-trainers and gallopers in work.

Almost a year into his training career, Bobic says he was ready for a new challenge after almost two decades in other industries around horses.

“I was lucky to be successful in all of that and I felt like I achieved everything I wanted to do in that,” he said.

“I just wanted a change so with my partner we bought a big property and did some pre-training and spelling.

“I fell in love with the racing as I was following all the horses that we were pre-training and spelling.

“I have become pretty obsessed by the race horses and I do not do show or dressage horses any more."