It’s no longer a case of the master versus apprentice for Frank and Joe Cleary at Rosehill.
Yet a rare trip to Sydney for the Queanbeyan trainers will still be an experience to savour.
Father and son would have been pitted against each other in the Country Classic (2000m) on Saturday until Rosaruby drew barrier 18.
“I think he had one look at the barrier draws and said, ‘I can’t beat the old fella from there’,” Frank Cleary said.
The 69-year-old, who trained 1999 Golden Slipper winner Catbird, clearly relished the rivalry.
“A couple of years back one of Joe’s horses looked like it was home and one of mine of knocked it off,” he said.
“He didn’t know I was behind him when he said, ‘I wish the old bugger would retire’.”
Cleary started training in 1972 and has no plans to give the game away, although he only has two or three in work, a short trot from Joe’s own small-scale operation.
“I’m looking for a few more but all my clients have died. You turn around and another one’s gone,” he said.
Cleary rarely brings a runner to Sydney these days but he is confident That’s Freedom will justify the trip.
The seven-year-old gelding launched his 57-race career with Peter Moody and has had only one previous start in Sydney, at Canterbury in August, 2015.
“He’s a lovely old horse. He’s just a pleasure to be around,” Cleary said.
“He’s in his big yard under the trees during the day, he has a roll around and away he goes again.”
That’s Freedom is seeking his eighth-career win and third this preparation.
Joe Cleary started training in 2000 and usually has between 15 and 20 horses in work.
He said the barrier draw forced him to race Rosaruby in a benchmark 65 handicap at Goulburn on Sunday but he still has three-year-old gelding Up Trumpz and mare Lasting Shadow running at Rosehill.
Up Trumpz won first-up in Queanbeyan and returns to his own age group in a benchmark 71 handicap after running against older horses in Gundagai’s Snake Gully Cup.
Cleary, who has had only a dozen runners in Sydney, hopes Lasting Shadow’s first Highway Handicap will pay dividends down he track.
“If she can be city placed it’ll help her residual value in 12 months time when she goes to stud,” he said.