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Horse Person of the Month for June Presented by New Holland: Troy Garnett

June 13, 2024

Troy Garnett’s life has always been about happy walks.

Growing up in horse racing-rich Barbados, it didn’t take long for the wide-eyed kid to find his way to the country’s premier Thoroughbred racetrack.

“I lived a stone’s throw from the Garrison Savannah, so on weekends I would be at the track,” recalled Garnett, of the historic Bridgetown oval. “When I was out of school during the summers, I would be at the track.

“It was five minutes away, so I would get up early in the mornings and go there. For most people, getting up early is tough, but for me, knowing I would see the horses made it easy to wake up. The horses helped me be a morning person from a very young age.”

They also made him yearn for a life in racing.

Garnett wore a wide smile each time he made the short trek to Garrison Savannah.

He positively beamed when he received a job offer to work with Thoroughbreds.

“I would help the horse people at Garrison Savannah. It gave me the experience of working with the horses and handling them. I would cool out the horses, graze them and groom them.”

Eventually, Garnett pondered the thought of pursuing a riding career.

That idea, however, was quickly shot down.

“I wanted to be a jockey, but my mom was having no part of that,” said Garnett with a laugh. “She told me that I had to go into the army or learn a trade. I didn’t go the route of the army, so I went out and learned a trade.

“I was a professional press operator in the printing industry. But the thing with horses is that no matter what you do, they draw you back in.”

And that is exactly what happened to Garnett.

That chapter of his racing life started when he went to work, full-time, 19 years ago for high-profile Barbados-based trainer Victor Cheeseman.

Garnett tended to a couple of horses for the conditioner, an experience that would open an unexpected door.

“One of my good friends was working in the racing industry in Winnipeg. He helped get me over there. At the end of May 2008, I left for Canada.”

Garnett found work with a notable Manitoba horseman.

“In the winter of 2008, I was working for the late [owner-breeder] Phil Kives at his K5 Stable. One day, a person at the farm saw the dedication I had working in the cold and said, ‘You would do very well in Toronto.’ She had connections at Woodbine and told me I should head out there.”

Her words stuck with Garnett.

After some deliberation and weighing of the pros and cons, he decided to head east, specifically, to Canada’s biggest racetrack.

In March of 2009, Garnett decided to take a walk through the expansive Woodbine backstretch.

While it wasn’t by design, he ended up at trainer Kevin Attard’s barn.

Troy Garnett
Troy Garnett

“One day, I found myself walking through Kevin’s barn. A person, who is also from Barbados, was working there and told me that Kevin was looking for a hotwalker. It just seemed like it was a good fit. And it was. I have been working for Kevin since that day.”

Attard, a multiple graded stakes-winning conditioner, who counts a 2022 King’s Plate win with Moira as one of his many impressive triumphs, is glad Garnett happened by his barn just over 15 years ago.

“Troy truly loves the horses. He is one of the most hard-working and dedicated horse people in our industry. He comes into the barn with a smile on his face every day. We are lucky to have him on our team.”

Garnett is grateful to be part of that team.

“It could have been easily where I went back to Barbados, but I came with a purpose and a good work ethic. It is fulfilling that it worked out for me.

“It’s awesome. To see Kevin rise to where he is now is a testament to the hard work he puts in. I came to Kevin at the right time. I needed to learn the right way and he has taught me so much. You can learn something new every day and he has always been there for me. He trusts you and that means a lot.”

There is no place Garnett would rather be.

“Kevin has been good to me and that is why I am loyal to him. He is there to help you and has never turned a blind eye to me.”

Currently, Garnett has six horses under his direct care.

Does he have a favourite?

“They all are. I treat each one the same way. They are like your children.”

A sentiment that extends to each horse in the barn.

“My morning starts at three o’clock. I feed breakfast to each horse in the barn before I start my day. It’s touching to see them every morning. They depend on you. They know you are there – it is like they have a sixth sense. They are happy to see you and I am happy to see them. I speak to them, pat them and make sure they are doing well.”

It is, as expected, a happy walk around the barn, the one that Garnett has made for 15 years and counting.

“I love what I do. The day I don’t feel that I will walk away. But I don’t see that day coming.”

Not when the lifelong journey always leads to his happy place.

Chris Lomon, Woodbine

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