Peter Ilsley never had the biggest stable in Seymour, but it did not stop him often being in charge of the region’s signature horse.
There is no better example of that than Bar Landy.
Modestly-bred, by Aurilandy out of the Kazakstaan mare Almabar, he was good enough to upstage some of the best horses in the country in the Winfield Stakes – now Kingston Town Classic – in Perth in 1990.
Bar Landy was not the first Group 1 winner trained out of Seymour, but until Fenway won the 2015 Vinery Stud Stakes for Lee and Shannon Hope he was the most recent elite-level winner trained out of Seymour.
Ilsley died last Wednesday after a battle with illness. He was 85.
Bar Landy was raced by Pat McEvoy and his wife Joy, who were Ilsley’s biggest supporters, and McEvoy fondly recalled the success they had together.
“From 1976 on, he trained over 80 winners for us,” McEvoy, a former Seymour Racing Club president, said.
“Bar Landy was the best of them. He won the Group 1 in Perth, an Alister Clark and the Tassie Derby. Lady Shibboleth won a lot of races for us, but there were plenty of other ones that ran around the bush too.”
Bar Landy’s biggest win came at 33/1 and the weight-for-age star of the day, Vo Rogue, was among his Winfield Stakes rivals.
Vo Rogue was one of just many big-name scalps.
Sydeston, who like Vo Rogue occupies a place in the Australian Racing Hall of Fame, was forced to settle for second place behind Bar Landy in the 1989 Group 3 Tasmanian Derby, while he accounted for Victoria Derby winner King’s High in the Group 2 Alister Clark Stakes.
He was also placed in both the South Australian Derby and Western Australian Derby at Group 1 level.
When the main function centre at the Seymour Racecourse was renovated in the 1990s it was renamed the Bar Landy Room, an honour Ilsley was proud of.
He never found another Bar Landy and health issues impacted the final few years of his training career, with the curtain finally coming down on it after Lamorak finished down the track at Wangaratta in June 2007.
That same horse provided Ilsley with his final winner when he won under Nikita Beriman, a former Seymour girl whose father Dennis Beriman trained alongside Ilsley at Seymour for many years, at Bendigo 13 months earlier.
McEvoy said Ilsley’s intimate knowledge of each of his horses was central to his success.
“He was terribly particularly about the way he worked his horses,” McEvoy said.
“He worked them a lot over the hills, swan them a fair bit and didn’t work them overly hard on the track.
“He was also terribly particular about the way he fed them. He’d go far and wide to get the best feed for them.
“He never really had any more than 10 in work, but he didn’t feed the 10 of them the same. One would get this, the next horse something else and another one something different again.”
The McEvoys, like most associated with racing in Seymour, are saddened they cannot be at Ilsley’s funeral on Tuesday, but will be there in spirit.
“Unfortunately you can only have so many people at a funeral at the moment, so we’ll be sitting around home thinking about him,” McEvoy said.
- Brad Bishop, racing.com