The O'Leary brothers have no regrets, only lasting memories after making the tough call to retire their durable 10-year-old stayer Who Shot Thebarman.

Michael, Shaun, Dan and Humphrey and their spouses have ended one of the most enjoyable, exciting and certainly profitable journeys anyone could hope to make in thoroughbred racing.

Most good racehorses have a great back story and Who Shot Thebarman was no exception.

Michael and Shaun bought Who Shot Thebarman sight unseen as a weanling from the deep south while looking for a potential jumper and being by the stoutly-bred Yaminin Vital, the horse fitted the bill perfectly. Michael bought him over the phone after talking to Wayne Stewart at White Robe Lodge.

Advertisement

His stipulations were clear. The weanling had to be by Yaminin Vital and be the third foal out of the dam. Stewart said he had a foal that fitted the bill and the deal was made for $8000.

When the weanling first arrived at Michael's Whangaehu dairy farm, he was a scrawny looking individual with anything but an aura of a champion about him.

However, as he grew and was put through his early paces it immediately became clear the O'Learys had a horse with a real flat racing future.

The two brothers gave shares to their siblings and it was the first time all four had been involved in a galloper together since Fontera, a jumper of real class earlier this decade.
Fonterra won a host of races here in New Zealand and a major jumping race in Japan witnessed by all four brothers.

However, the siblings are in no doubt that this equine athlete is the best they have raced.
In March 2014 after winning his way through the grades the horse claimed back-to-back coveted trophies in New Zealand when as a 5-year-old won the $500,000 Group One Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m) at Ellerslie.

This followed victory in the $100,000 Avondale Cup on the same track three weeks earlier. All his New Zealand runs were run out of Mark Oulaghan's Awapuni stable.

Those victories got the dairy farming brothers thinking he was good enough to tackle the best across the Tasman and he was transferred to champion trainer and expat Kiwi Chris Waller's Sydney barn. The rest is history.

Few, if any, gallopers stand up to the rigours of group racing in Australia for as long as Who Shot Thebarman did.

At his retirement following his run in the Zipping Classic a week after this year's Melbourne Cup, Who Shot Thebarman had run in 22 high profile black type races at the elite level in Australia.

His record is extraordinary with six Sydney Cups, four Melbourne Cups, four BMWs, three Moonee Valley Cups, three Zipping Classics and two Caulfield Cups under his belt.

Who Shot Thebarman won over $A4.5 million for the O'Leary clan and even during a two year period when he failed to chalk up a win, he banked well over $A800,000 from place prizes.

In a Trackside Radio interview with Des Coppins, Dan O'Leary said the plan was always to let the horse tell them when last drinks should be called.

"We always said we would let the horse decide when he should retire," Dan O'Leary said.

"We just thought his last couple of runs [Melbourne Cup and Zipping Classic] he didn't really put in. All his life he gave 100 per cent. Even James McDonald, who rode him in the Zipping Classic said his old bones were feeling the hard track and he didn't want to put in, so we made the decision to retire him and Chris (Waller) also thought the time was right to call it a day and reflect on a wonderful career.

"He never had any serious injuries throughout his career, although he did suffer a bit of arthritis in a knee, but it was minor and managable. We are pleased he has retired a healthy horse."

The O'Leary boys have decided to allow the horse to spend the next two years of his life at Living Legends in Australia, a complex that showcases the very best horses that have graced Australian tracks in recent years.

Who Shot Thebarman arrives at Living Legends for the first part of his retirement.
Who Shot Thebarman arrives at Living Legends for the first part of his retirement.

"They were pleased to get him. They have been at us for a while to get him because he is such a popular horse," O'Leary said.

"Humphrey has been out to the farm and thinks it's a good set up, and Michael has spoken to the chap as well, so we are all pretty pleased he is staying there. He had a big following in Australia and it gives people the chance to visit him. After his time there we would like to bring him home to a nice paddock on one of the farms."

O'Leary also paid tribute to Mark Oulaghan who did all the early work on Who Shot Thebarman.

"Mark was key, he did the early work to prepare him for his career later on."