Albert O’Cass began his apprenticeship as a blacksmith and farrier at Rozelle, aged 13, his early work being the shoeing of draughthorses. Keeping them at work on the roads for five days a week provided invaluable experience.

In 1956 he commenced work as a racehorse farrier, with Randwick racecourse becoming his base of operations. As his reputation grew, O’Cass began to shoe for trainers at Rosehill and Warwick Farm, and for major studs such as Widden, Barumal, Woodlands and Newhaven Park.

O’Cass had a phenomenal knowledge of his craft, not only in the manufacture and fitting of horse shoes, but also in the anatomy of horses’ feet and the treatment of problems associated with them. For instance, when Todman retired he was crippled by leg ailments. O’Cass designed a shoe which took the strain off his joints and hocks, after which he ran around the paddock like a two-year-old.

Throughout his career, O’Cass made a major contribution to the training of apprentices. Numerous apprentices were trained in his own workshop, and he was instrumental in having a TAFE course for the training of apprentices introduced into the NSW education system.

O’Cass served for 25 years as President of the NSW Master Farriers’ Association, and three years as President of the Australian Master Farriers’ Association. His work for the racing industry was recognised in 1998 with the award to him of the Order of Australia Medal.

Image source: