Young Gun Q&A: Todd Pollard

Caitlin O'Sullivan
29 March 2021

Todd Pollard has recently made the trip across the ditch, taking up the role of assistant trainer at Annabel Neasham's Warwick Farm. Success has followed the up and coming horseman, with stable star Mo'unga proving too good for his rivals in Saturday's Gr.1 Rosehill Guineas. 

We caught up with Todd to chat about his entry into the sport, journey thus far and where he hopes things will take him (AND what horse in the barn we should be keeping an eye out for!)

Celebrating Group 1 wins in Sydney doesn't just happen! Can you tell us a little about your background in racing? 

My Dad’s side of the family through his Aunty and Granddad have been breeders in Te Awamutu for a long time, so I always enjoyed following the horses growing up. When we moved next to Graham Richardson’s stable when I was 12, I knocked on the door for an after-school job and went from there! 

And your new role with Annabel Neasham at Warwick Farm? 

I've recently joined the team as Assistant Trainer. Annabel took out her license at the start of the season and has had a massive amount of support so far. It has been a great move. We have a good young team of staff and plenty of horses to be excited about. The transition has been quite smooth.

What did Saturday's win with Mo'unga in the Rosehill Guineas mean to you? 

I can't claim much credit for the win at all, having only been here a month but it was more seeing what it meant to the team involved. It justified the faith a lot of people have put into Annabel and will only bode well for us going forward. I think we’ll be needing more boxes to accommodate the horses soon!

How did Mo'unga get his name? 

He was bought out of Waikato Stud’s 2019 draft by Aquis. Being Kiwi-bred, they went down the track of naming it after key All Black Richie Mo'unga. He has a share in the ownership too with any prize money won going to charity – it’s a great concept.

Having a taste of that sort of success, we're sure you've got the bit firmly between your teeth! What aspirations do you have for the future? 

I'm hopeful of training myself one day, it’s something that has been a goal since day one. I'm excited to see how the next few years progress and hopefully the opportunity presents to take out my license eventually, but I'm more than happy with where I am at the moment. It’s a long career once I do become a trainer, so I want to make sure I have a good foundation before taking the leap.

What positive change would you like to see in New Zealand racing?

I’d say the implications of the Messara report being carried out, along with the race clubs working together to do what is best for the industry as a whole. When I finished the Godolphin Flying Start in June 2018 and joined Stephen Marsh as his Racing Manager, the report had just been released. I was extremely excited about how the future looked at that point for New Zealand Racing as a young person in the industry.

What advice would you give a young person looking to enter the industry? 

Surround yourself with the best people. Work for the people you respect the most and can learn off as you have the capability to pick and choose where you want to be employed. It’s great to see all sides of the industry, from racing to breeding and sales. Try and experience it all, understand the whole dynamic and make sure you travel abroad! Programmes such as the Godolphin Flying Start, Irish National Stud and Sunline Scholarships should be on everyone's radars for what you can learn and the people you will meet.

Is there a horse in the Annabel Neasham barn that we can keep an eye on (no pressure!)

A horse that is yet to race in Australia worth following is called ‘Zaaki’ – we really like him. He was bought from Europe and has been very competitive up there. He has had two trials for us and looks pretty smart. Keep an eye out for him fresh up in the Doncaster next Saturday - and carrying 53kgs! A race like the Doomben Cup would be ideal for him.

Why do you love racing? 

It’s such a great sport - enjoyment and celebrations of a winner is hard to beat. There are no barriers to enter and the people you meet along the way make it an entertaining game to be involved in.

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