Living Legend: Who Shot Thebarman

2 February 2023

Leading jockey Jonathan Riddell is not known for talking up his mounts, but he made an exception with Who Shot Thebarman.

Who Shot Thebarman had had only a handful of starts when Riddell made a bold prediction.

“If I’ve ever ridden a Melbourne Cup horse, this is the one,” Riddell said.

And Riddell, who won two trials and two races on the horse as Who Shot Thebarman was going through the grades, was right. Who Shot Thebarman did not win a Melbourne Cup, but he was certainly “a Melbourne Cup horse” and one of the best stayers of his era.

The unfashionably bred gelding, who will be on show at Legends Day at Te Rapa on February 11, was retired from racing as a 10-year-old, with stake earnings of A$4.5 million, after winning 11 of his 58 starts.

He won the Auckland and Avondale Cups less than a year after his debut, when trained at Awapuni by Mark Oulaghan, and after one more start was transferred to Sydney trainer Chris Waller.

 Who Shot Thebarman attracted a cult following – in part due to his name – among Australian punters, as he contested five Sydney Cups (3200m), four Melbourne Cups (3200m) and made four appearances in the weight-for-age Tancred Stakes (2400m) in Sydney.

He was a nine-year-old when he won the Sydney Cup in 2018, at his fifth attempt, after twice being narrowly beaten.

He was an acceptor for five successive Melbourne Cups but had to be scratched in 2017, because of an elevated temperature. He ran third, behind the northern hemisphere pair of Protectionist and Red Cadeaux, at his first attempt and finished fourth two years later. He had a rocky run when unplaced at his second attempt and was well beaten in his final bid.

Who Shot Thebarman was a cheap weanling buy, with the hope that he would become a good jumper, but his flat form eliminated any thoughts of a career over fences.

He never raced below 1600m but won his first start by more than six lengths and his second by four lengths. The Yaminan Vital gelding won over 2500m at Riccarton early in his career and was a comfortable Auckland Cup winner at just his ninth start.

Staying was always his forte and his seven Group wins all came at 2400m or further. He never won the Tancred but was always in the first four in the Group I feature and finished a close second behind Preferment in 2016.

Who Shot Thebarman was raced by the brothers Michael, Shaun, Dan and Humphrey O’Leary and their wives.  The O’Leary family, who are based in the central districts, enjoy their racing and there was a huge support crew each time Who Shot Thebarman contested a Melbourne Cup.

Who Shot Thebarman began his post-racing career at the Living Legends property in Victoria but is now back in New Zealand and enjoying an active retirement under the care of the extended O’Leary family.

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