Queensland racing icon Barry Baldwin may be retiring from training at age 80, but the great news is that he will still be seen at the Eagle Farm stables most days.
Baldwin is a legend who has been involved in racing for more than 60 years and whose greatest moment was winning the 2006 Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap with three-year-old filly La Montagna.
Baldwin says being 80 has nothing to do with his retirement and he still feels he could have trained on for years.
But in a financial sense, he says, it was a shrewd and commonsense move to retire given he could no longer fill the 15 horses boxes he was paying rent for at Eagle Farm.
Baldwin will saddle up his last runner at the end of the month – but he won’t be lost to racing.
He will join forces with fellow Eagle Farm trainer Chris Anderson who is keen to tap into Baldwin’s vast experience and have him around the stables whenever he wants.
Baldwin is looking forward to the new challenge, which means he can continue his amazing love for horses without having the responsibility that comes with training.
“I’ve been paying for 15 (horse) boxes and I could only fill five boxes, so I thought it was a good time to call it quits, given I was losing money,” Baldwin said.
“In an ideal world, I probably would have liked to have gone on for a bit longer.
“Because I’m 80, I think most people think I’m too old.
“But strangely enough, I think I know more now than I did 20 years ago.
“I will send some of my horses to Chris Anderson and I will be helping Chris around his stables.
“I will go down on gallop mornings and we will sit down and talk about a lot of things.”
While it is not a training partnership, Anderson can’t wait to have Baldwin around the stables and he will hang on his every word.
“This will allow Barry to stay in horse racing, without having to deal with other challenges that training horses brings you,” Anderson said.
“Barry can come and go as he likes in my stable.
“He brings 60 years of experience which I will take with open arms and every one of my owners will get another set of eyes on their horse.”
Baldwin is a former bush jockey who became a battling country trainer – then going on to become one of Queensland’s greatest trainers.
He ticked off one of his career goals when winning a Brisbane training premiership in the 1990s before taking a leap of faith and heading to Macau to train.
“I trained 100 winners in my first season over there and my horses in that year earned $5 million (Australian),” Baldwin said.
“I bought a house in Brisbane and a few other things with the cash.
“It was my first time in my life I was ever a millionaire, it didn’t last for long when I bought the house.”
While his Stradbroke win sits atop as his proudest achievement, Baldwin says one-time top sprinter Baggio was one of the best horses he trained.
Baggio, who finished second to All Our Mob in the 1994 Stradbroke Handicap, had an inauspicious start to his racing journey when kicking a spectator at the yearling sales and putting them in hospital.
One of Baldwin’s great skills as a trainer was being able to produce the goods with bargain basement buys – you could count on one hand how many times he paid more than $100,000 for a horse.
He was also known for his bush remedies for horses and other tonics he conjured along his training journey.
Baldwin swore by a simple garlic and vitamin C tonic that he gave all his horses.
It may not have made their breath smell much good, but he reckons it worked wonders to stop them getting coughs or viruses.
In recent years, Baldwin won acclaim for popular Brisbane galloper The Candy Man who he nursed through hell and back.
Back-from-the-dead grey gelding The Candy Man developed a cult-like following in Queensland following a 10-hour surgical operation with seven steel plates and 56 screws inserted in his head that fixed a horribly shattered broken jaw.
The Candy Man raced in the same colours as another Queensland equine great, Gunsynd, and also wore the same purple and white silks as owner Lucky Pippos inherited Gunsynd’s colours from his brother George.
An insight on Baldwin comes from an owner who used to race horses with him.
“He just cared for his horses so much, the love he had for them was incredible,” the owner said.
“When Barry went to buy a horse, the first thing he looked for was whether the horse had a kind eye.
“I’ve also never had horses with a trainer who gave you such a good insight into whether you should have a bet on them or not.”
Baldwin has entered Gave Us Up in Saturday’s $160,000 Mooloolaba Cup on the Sunshine Coast metropolitan card.
Originally published as Legendary Queensland trainer Barry Baldwin to retire but won’t be lost to racing