MICHAEL Byers has spent the last 43 years training racehorses.
Now he's had enough.
"I've finished,'' Byers, 64, from Taree, said.
"I've been training for 43 years. Now I want to have a life.''
Monday June 7 - Wingham Cup day - was his last on the track as a trainer. Now there'll be no more early morning trackwork sessions, no more driving to tracks all over NSW. Nothing. Nada.
"It happens to a lot of trainers at my age. You just get to a point when you know it's time to do something else,'' he explained.
"This is a seven day a week job. I haven't had a proper day off in more than four years.''
He's hoping to pick up some part-time work around town. However, longer term Byers and his wife, Yves, want to travel around Australia.
"Yves will probably work for another three or so years. Then we'll buy a Winnebago or a caravan and we'll choof off somewhere,'' he said.
Exactly where is still in the planning stage.
"But look, I wouldn't mind living on a couple of acres. We'll have a look around when we're travelling, but nothing is definite yet,'' he said.
Byers' interest in training was first piqued when he attended a horse riding school when living in Sydney four decades ago. He eventually started working at stables at Randwick Racecourse as a strapper, then a foreman before gaining his licence in 1979. Mountain Echo provided him with his first winner in the city.
"I stayed in Sydney for 12 or 13 years,'' he said.
However, training in the country where the class of racing wasn't as strong appealed to Byers.
"I also liked the idea of living near the coast for the fishing, so that's why I made the move here,'' he added.
Byers said he's trained 'hundreds of winners' on country, provincial and city tracks.
"I trained a winner on every track in Sydney,'' he said.
Sheza Gypsy, winner of the Mid North Coast Country Championship Heat in 2017, was a good-un, he said.
"I won a lot of money with her in a relatively short time,'' he said.
However, no others really stand out from the rest nor is there one race win that he rates as a standout from the pack.
Byers has also worked with some of the best jockeys in the country.
"Darren Beadman rode three winners for me in Sydney. Corey Brown, Glen Boss, Robert Thompson... there's been plenty. I was speaking to Corey at the Wingham Cup the other day - he rode a winner for me in Sydney,'' Byers said.
Byers admits he'll miss the horses.
"But not the industry,'' he quickly added.
"This is the right time to get out. I just don't want to do it anymore.''