Errol Cain insists every win is a Family Triumph

By Duane Ranger (courtesy of Redcliffe Paceway)

Humble since 1951, Errol Cain, says Thursday’s race seven winner – Royal Winkle – was a ‘Cain family’ victory, and probably wouldn’t have happened had his family not been involved.

“The race-book says I’m the trainer, but our stable is a real family affair. My wife Debra and especially my daughter Alex, who is the backbone of the stable, and of course Leonard who does the driving. Alex does mostly all the work at home. On Thursday (April 4) Debra and I had our own respective jobs to tend to so Alex took him to the races and looked after him throughout the day.”

“Leonard works for Shane Graham but it’s always good to have Leonard help out when he can. I’ve still got my driving licence because of my kids. They have kept me involved, and Debra and I are very proud of their achievements. They are both exceptional with horses, but Alex still wants to venture into journalism full-time one day” Cain said.

The Calvert-based horseman and traffic control employee, said he was also proud how his son had developed into an astute driver, one of Queensland’s best.

“I only drive these days when Leonard can’t. We discussed the win after the race and it was amazing how he showed the patience to drive his own race without being flustered at all and not be caught up in the early pace battle and it certainly paid off big time.

Calvert couple, Errol and Debra Cain, who work a team of 14 with their daughter Alex at Calvert.

“He said the favourite went very quick early and he knew the field would come back to him, and that’s why he sat patiently biding his time in the death seat.”

“He certainly got it right because the gelding raced away to win easily. Leonard watches a lot of race replays and knows almost every horse. His wins don’t come by chance.” 72-year-old Cain said.

“Alex must also take credit. The horse has had a few niggles and she has worked with him to work them out” he added.

“Easy” was an understatement. The 5-year-old son of Royal Lincoln left them to it at the 200 metres bolting away to score by an increasing 12.5m. Not a bad effort for a $16 fourth-favourite.

Cain said “Royal Winkle” wasn’t always the easiest horse to work with, having a bit of a mind of his own at times.

“Alex has put a lot of work into the gelding along with Leonard and their trial and error with him has proven to be a success. He’s a lightly tried 5-year-old who has only had 19 starts and been in the money seven times. With age and more maturity, we are hoping he will develop into a nice horse” Cain said.

Cain explained that Royal Winkle was the fifth and last foal out of the 1999 Armbro Operative one-win mare, Switch Box Susan, who was previously named Youlooksolovely – the first two, both fillies, never raced.

“Sadly, she died after having a respiratory issue mid pregnancy in 2019 while carrying an unborn Pet Rock foal and couldn’t be saved by the vets. We actually got the mare off now Queensland Racing steward, Lisa Bahr and her family when we liked the first one we had “Oliver Winkle”.

He said the Bahrs had previously bred two unraced filly foals prior to the 2012 Art Official 1:51.5 pacer, Oliver Winkle, who won 19 races and $110,622 in earnings.

“We leased Oliver Winkle off the Bahr family until we brought him later in his career and I trained and drove him too. He would be one of the best I’ve trained. Town Royal has to be the other of mention. The only other living foal we bred from the mare – Royal Winkle – is probably the best I’ve bred” Cain said.

“But her 2015 Terror To Love colt could have been something else, had he not broken his leg in a paddock accident. He could really go, but when I went back to get more Terror To Love semen they weren’t sending any more over at the time due to costs.

“Instead, we went to another former Group One winning sire in Lincoln Royal with both stallions being recommended by Ken Mackay of Premier Pedigrees in New Zealand, whom we first approached for advice when my wife bred Littlelioneljames,” he added.

Cain, who works a combined team of 14 with his daughter at Calvert, bred and owns Royal Winkle with his wife and daughter. He has now had three wins from 19 starts and has also placed four times since making his winning debut at ‘The Triangle’ on October 6, 2022, at odds of $1.45.

Cain’s other training success in 2024 was also at Redcliffe, when Cain Junior drove Littlelioneljames to win the ninth race on February 29.

The Cain family owned, bred and trained, Royal Winkle, returns to the winner’s enclosure shortly after winning race seven at Redcliffe Paceway on Thursday (April 4). DAN COSTELLO PHOTO. Below: Littlelioneljames notches up Errol Cain’s first win of the season at ‘The Triangle’ on February 29.
Photo Finish

His familiar black, and pink sashed colours, have been going around since 1977, but statistics since 1982-83 season show Cain as the driver of 296 winners from 2,068 starts. He’s also placed 733 times and banked $868,839. His best season was 2018-2019 when he conditioned 13 winners.

His 27-year-old daughter, Alex has trained 43 winners in her own white, black diamond and red sleeved colours (her grandfather’s colours) since the 2015-2016 season, while 24-year-old, Leonard has also trained three winners in his own black and pink American silks since the 2019-2020 season. In the sulky Cain junior has been a machine winning 645 races ($5.06 million) since 2016-2017. That also includes two Groups Twos, five Group Threes, and four Listed events.

Cain Senior has driven 258 winners ($540,875) since records were taken, but was an astute driver before handing the reins over to his son.

“I’ve never even placed in a Group race but did train and drive the very good Interdominion pacer Town Royal before she retired in 1988. I think she was the best horse I have sat behind. I also trained I Am Sam to place in the Group One Australian Pacing Gold 2yo Final back home at Moonee Valley in 2005” Cain said.

Cain is a Victorian-native. He was born and educated in Heywood – four hours West of Melbourne. His father Leonard Thomas Cain (the same name as his son) had horses, but died when Cain was just nine.

“Mum carried on from where Dad left off, and she had a nice mare before she was sold, who ended up producing a great horse named Greenwald (1965 Green Lawn gelding), who won a lot of races. In fact, Greenwald Paceway in Mount Gambia is named after him” a proud Cain said.

Errol Cain taking a well earned rest after working his team of horses.

When he left Heywood and District School in the mid-1960s Cain worked in at the local pulp mill, all the while keeping an eye on the trots.

“I used to give the Whelan family a hand at nearby Lawrence. In fact, it was Bill and his family who taught me the intricacies of the sport and I became great lifelong friends with their son Kelvin (Skeeta) and we still catch up when he’s up this way. Then in 1977 there was a great family opportunity which brought me north to Queensland” said Cain.

That’s when his sister Rhonda, and her husband Dr Pat Aldons, gave Cain the chance to train a team of standardbreds from their Logan Village property.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to relocate to the sunshine state and train a nice team of horses for our Queensland family. Wow that was nearly 50 years ago. I remember they bought and owned the very good race mare Town Royal, who boasted a very powerful sprint.”

“She raced in the 1987 Inter Dominion in Christchurch, running third in a heat in the year when My Lightning Blue and Jim O’Sullivan won it. It was an honour to train and drive such a good one like her” Cain said.

He said it was right up there with his first driving success behind Beau Scott in 1975.

“I trained my first winner in 1977 but drove a few before then. I remember we came up to Tweed Heads a few years before the permanent shift and that horse has always stuck with me. I’ve got a lot of happy memories from Tweed Heads.”

“Town Royal held records there and Our Welkinson still holds the track record there. He was a lovely horse we imported from New Zealand. Both he and Cotton Hall, who my sister trained, won at the last ever meeting at Tweed Heads” Cain said.

Littlelioneljames shortly after notching up Errol Cain’s first win of 2024 at Redcliffe Paceway on February 29. His wife, Debra, and two children – Alex and Leonard – are also pictured. DAN COSTELLO PHOTO.

“Gee I miss that track. There were a lot of happy memories there. It’s a shame the country tracks have almost all gone in Queensland,” he added.

The Cains moved to their larger 80-acre property that they train from currently at Calvert just under three years ago. Calvert is a rural town in the Ipswich region just outside of Rosewood. In 2016 it had a population of 313.

Cain’s top-10 stake-earners (as a trainer) since 1982 have been:

1) Oliver Winkle 19 wins and $107,102; 2) Littlelioneljames 12 and $93,540; 3) Spring Grove Left 22 and $83,220; 4) I Am Sam four and $57,632; 5) Viking’s Memory 22 and $50,527; 6) Town Royal 11 and $44,519; 7) Modern Thought seven and $37,892; 8) Our Wilkinson 13 wins and $32,346; 9) Most Happy Sam 9 wins and $27,611; 10) Abbe Lu 13 wins and $21,150.

Photo Finish
Royal Winkle notches up win number three from start number 19 in race seven at Redcliffe Paceway on Thursday (April 4). The Errol Cain-trained and Leonard Cain-driven 5yo Lincoln Royal gelding won by an increasing 12.5 metres.

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