Tears I Cry gets his kicks as a clerk of the course's horse

Horsemen will tell you there’s an intangible bond between horse and rider, and every so often a special combination comes along. Anne McGrath and Tears I Cry is one.

The 14-year-old Lacryma Cristi gelding retired five years ago with an impressive resume, amassing over $900,000 in prizemoney and with the 2007 Group 1 Emirates Stakes at Flemington at 100/1, when trained by Ciaron Maher, as one of his 10 wins. 

But now Skeeta, as he is known in the stables, is flourishing in his career as a clerk of the course’s horse with his former owner, trainer (for several stints) and breeder, Anne McGrath. 

Not without its challenges, the transition from racing required a fresh approach to training and a change of attitude from the horse. 

“It wasn’t the easiest transition, he was a real spoilt boy and he needed to lose some attitude,” McGrath said. 

“He used to kick out all the time when he was annoyed, thought he could get away with anything. 

“We headed up into the bush with another big pushy horse, and he shoved him around every ride, just roughed him up a bit to take the attitude away. It worked wonders for him and he just loved heading out there.” 

McGrath’s decision to turn Skeeta into a clerk’s horse was not without its doubters. Given his strong will and attitude, he didn’t fit the bill as a cool-natured horse capable of doing the job. 

The scepticism that Skeeta would not make it, drove McGrath’s determination to succeed with him. 

“Everybody laughed at me when I said I wanted him to be a clerk of the course,” she said. “They knew about his attitude and said it would never work. So I thought blow it, I’m going to prove everyone wrong and do this. 

“We did lots of different work to prepare him for his next career; even during his time racing I made sure he was doing different things to keep his mind active. We did some show jumping, trail riding, beach work. He was exposed to lots of different things.” 

Ultimately McGrath’s faith in Skeeta paid off, and the gelding has done a stellar job in red for more than five years. 

“I knew he could do it, he’s a really smart horse, and he just keeps getting better and better. We always have workout in the morning before we head to the course to make sure he’s calm and ready to go,” she said. 

McGrath believes Tears I Cry has the potential to go on working until his late 20s and says she’ll stick by him forever. “He’s my best mate. I’ll keep going with him until he tells me he’s had enough, but he loves it right now. He’s special,” she said.