On Tuesday, Who Shot Thebarman will chalk up 125,000 kilometres in races when Australasian racing’s most popular 10-year-old contests his fourth Melbourne Cup.
The Chris Waller-trained gelding will line up for the 56th time under race conditions, the 10th time he’s run in a two-mile handicap.
The management of the veteran stayer is a testament to all involved in the horse’s journey, from his breeders – the Anderton family of White Robe Lodge at Mosgiel in Otago New Zealand to his owners, the O’Leary family, former trainer Mark Oulaghan, Waller his team and support staff.
“You know what, Winx has won four Cox Plates and looking at the Barman, from the management of an athlete’s point of view, I’d say Who Shot Thebarman is Chris Waller’s best training performance,” thoroughbred physio Tom Simpson of PhysioTom, Equine Performance Physio, said.
“He inherited a horse he hadn’t managed from its yearling days, so he had to get to know its movements, personality and idiosyncrasies.
“To be able to repeatedly get this horse to perform every spring and autumn for as many years as he has, over staying distances – hats off.
“For him to still show a zest for racing and win a Sydney Cup at nine, I’d be surprised if Chris didn’t think that was as satisfying as getting a champion to win four Cox Plates.”
Simpson has worked with some, if not most, of Australia’s premier four-legged equine athletes over the years including Winx, Chautauqua, Redzel, Pierro, Almandin, Kementari and many others, but as a personality, Who Shot Thebarman stands alone.
“The Barman and I have a love hate relationship, we hate to love each other,” he said.
“He can be a cranky old man that just wants to do his job and be left alone.
“It’s like taking a middle-aged bloke and teaching him how to do yoga.
“He’s sees me come around the corner, into his box and I can feel him rolling his eyes.
“Winx laps up what I do with her, she never wants me to leave. Barman on the other hand is ok, you’ve done your job now get out and leave me alone.”
Simpson’s relationship with the son of Yamanin Vital have left their mark on the physio over the years and it was this time in the spring a couple of years ago he remembers the least fondly.
“Over time he’s learnt to work with me and heaven forbid I think he even enjoys it occasionally,” Simpson said.
“Over the years I reckon he’s bitten me at least two dozen times.
“Leading up to the Cup two years ago and I was giving him his normal pre-race stretching routine. He was feeling that well and he’d had enough of me, he latched onto my arm and I reckon I had a bruise for a month. Gee, he got me good.”
Simpson says leading up to his fourth shot in ‘the race that stops the nation’, Who Shot Thebarman is showing all the signs that this racing cult hero won’t let his fans down when the starter says go at 3pm next Tuesday.
“Going into his fourth Melbourne Cup, the horse is exceptional,” he said. “He’s just like a bottle of Grange.
“I’d be worried if I walked into his box and he didn’t look at me like ‘not you again’.
“He’s got a glow to his coat, he’s got his attitude.
“It’s ‘I’m the Barman and if you haven’t realised, I’m a dude’. He’s got so much swagger, a real character. He’s got it in spades, in absolute spades.
“Come Tuesday, I’m sure he’ll do everyone proud again and run as well as he can.”
Who Shot Thebarman will be ridden by Ben Melham in the Melbourne Cup when he jumps from barrier 18. – Racenet.com.au