Tim loves his sport and watching 'Tobefair' do so well as a fine racehorse!

Tobefair in winning action Tim Parry has played a lot of sport in Pembrokeshire but is perhaps best known in local rugby for his days at Llangwm and Haverfordwest, alongside his representing the county at youth level – but whilst he has retained his love of the oval-ball game he has developed a new sporting interest. 

 Tim with Tobefair and groomHe had enjoyed a few bets on horse racing alongside his old pal George Thomas but is now the proud part-owner of an excellent race-horse as he has joined forces with Michael Cole and others based at the Cresselly Arms in Cresswell Quay to cheer on their horse ‘Tobefair’ to lots of success and great excitement at courses around the country.

“We just wanted to have a focus for attending race meetings for a good social day out and it has certainly been achieved but we have had the added bonus of watching our lovely horse do so well it has become something of a fairytale for us all.”


Family matters

Tim was raised in Robeston Wathen, with his parents Dicky and Gill, who owned the Dyrham Service Station which he now runs after his dad sadly passed away following a long battle with Motor Neurone Disease.

“Dad was a big character and hard-working businessman who loved his sport and supported many clubs and charities - and my mother Gill also played a key role in the garage, whilst my brother Charlie is a successful solicitor in Cardiff.”

As soon as Tim could walk he was off with Dad every Saturday to watch whatever sport Narberth were playing.

“I also enjoyed motocross and had my first bike at five, practising with my pal Andrew Feetham, and I also did a lot of fishing and won a few competitions at Llys y Fran Reservoir under the guidance of my grandfather Dai Richards.

“I've now got a fantastically supportive fiancée in Kai and an 18 month son called Oakes. I am always busy at the garage, where we are currently busy with renovations, and where the family have proudly traded in various forms for well over 100 years.”

Tim and the rest of the syndicate

Early start – and school’s sporting success at Tasker Milward

Tim started out at Narberth playing all junior sports like rugby, football  and cricket in a village which had some good young sportsmen like Wayne Howells, who being a bit older helped toughen us up during the hours spent on the various pitches we created  in backyards.

“Then it was on to Tasker Milward School, Haverfordwest, and a spell at Scarrowscant football team as the boys in my year all played there. We had a fantastic cricket team at school under the guidance of the passionate Mr Huw Nicklin and we became Welsh champions. In fact, in the five years we were together didn't lose against any other school in Wales, We made it to the semi-finals of the British Championships before losing to Cheltenham College with a team that included George Thomas, Darren John, Iain Williams, Ross Martin, Danny Field and Darren Brick.

“Rugby-wise at school I was in the First XV that beat our big rivals Sir Thomas Picton for the first time in nine seasons so I'd never seen our teachers Richard ‘Stag’ Jones and the late Hue ‘Canoe’ Jones so happy!
“While playing in a school 1st XV game I suffered a facial injury that ended my modelling career and my ‘friends’ still say is the reason I speak like a Darlek!”

On to youth rugby – and a Welsh final with county youth

Tim and dad DickieTim played club cricket at Narberth, Haverfordwest and Llangwm, playing in two Ormond Youth finals whilst at Haverfordwest, winning one of them. 

At 16, when youngsters could start to play youth rugby Narberth struggled to get a team so all his pals persuaded him to join Llangwm: he received a warm welcome and went on to captain the youth team, which made the cup final during one season with huge crowd support and in a game he admits still hurts Tim and Co did everything but win.

“I played for the County Youth a year ahead of my time and then in a Welsh Final on the Gnoll (Neath) against a Llanelli team that included Craig Quinnell (all 6ft 6ins and 19st even then) but Carl Clash (Fishguard) sorted him out!”

Senior start, with a good minder in ‘Thorns’!

“I made my senior debut in 1993 and was awarded player of the season, which I was very proud of. 
“Rugby was still the old rugby then and I was on the small side so I needed a bodyguard in the front row - and Chris ‘Thorns’ Thomas was always looking out for me along with Keith Locke and the late Jonny James. 

“I took over the club captaincy in 1996/97 from Lee Davies, who got injured in the first game of the season, and really enjoyed those years making friends for life with a Llangwm club I'm very proud to have represented.

Playing good stuff with The Blues . . .

If you'd have asked Tim between 1993-97 was there any chance he’d play for Haverfordwest one day he would have laughed and said no chance . . . but that all changed as The Blues were assembling a formidable squad that included Wales rugby union and league international Jonathan Griffiths, Andrew Morgan, Andrew Thicker, Lee Anson, Paul Morris and Steve Barnett to add to an already hardened unit under the guidance of coach Randall Evans.

He’d been asked to train at Narberth but couldn't see a way past club stalwart Steve Gerrard in his hooker’s position there, so when Haverfordwest came calling, and after a chat with a couple of friends and family he decided to give it a go and they went onto silverware and climbed the leagues.

Tim and co had  a couple of good Pembrokeshire cup semi-final battles against a top Tenby team, at the time high up in the national leagues, but lost agonisingly to a last-gasp Gavin Scotcher penalty in one of them.

Ask him about opposing players and he would say that he really enjoyed the hooking duels against the likes of Evan Davies (Fishguard) and Gareth ‘Nuts’ Phillips (Milford Haven).

“And I will never forget the warm welcome I received from Paul 'Spooner' Williams during a heated game at Pembroke,” admitted Tim with a chuckle, “but we have remained pals to this day so it is funny how it all works out!”

Andy Pannell, Michael Cole and Tim Parry

. . . And having a great time coaching a cracking youth team

“After struggling to recover from three knee operations and probably seeing a rare bit of sense I decided it was time to call it a day, so I helped out with a bit of team management for a time - but I'd always said I'd like to coach the youth one day (it was my favourite time in rugby probably due to the social scene) so I did my badges and gave it a go.

“I was blessed to take on a team with the likes of Sam Parry, Rob Evans (now both full internationals), twins Carwyn and Llewellin Jones (both full time pro's), plus Dan Birch, Oli Reyland, Ashley Sutton, Jonny Howard, Adam and Matt Clark among an incredibly talented team. Our aim was to break the dominance of Whitland and Crymych at that level which we did by winning the league.

First team management also enjoyable

“My good friend Jonny Llewellin persuaded me to come on board in a bit of multi-roll with the 1st XV and with the previously mentioned youth team joining the likes of Steve Williams, Gareth Green, Lewis Wood, Jon Whitticombe and Gareth Phillips – and we had a Great couple of seasons winning the league and eventually the Pembrokeshire Cup.

“I have great respect for all the unseen thankless hard work put in by the likes of Graham Dalton and Delyth Summons that still keeps the club ticking.

“My view on Rugby post-covid is that below the championship level it should go back to local (Pembrokeshire) leagues, which has probably been needed for a number of years now.

“A crew of us went to Australia with the Lions in 2001 and what a three weeks that was, with characters like my roommate Karl 'Hoss' Potter, Wayne Davies, Richard Brazell, Matthew Lewis, Jamie ‘Pimms’ Picton, Mark and Paul Busch.

Tim with Haverfordwest (5th, front row)

Other sports activities

“These days I enjoy keeping fit at the wonderful new fitness facility S7, owned by my old pal Chris O'Sullivan.

“I enjoy the odd game of golf but table tennis is my favourite and I'm quite hot at the moment.  Just ask Matthew D’Ivry (Merlins Bridge) he can't get passed me and is filling my wallet nicely.

“On Saturdays in the winter it's either off to watch the Blues play rugby or up The Racecourse or the Bridge Meadow to watch Merlins Bridge or/Haverfordwest County play football.”

Chance start as a part-owner in a racehorse

For some while Tim had pursued an interest in National Hunt racing, mainly due to the fact his mate George Thomas was a fanatic and made the social pilgrimage to the Cheltenham Festival every year.

They have had a number of trainers and connections who call in regularly at their service station, one of them of them being Michael Cole, who he knew owned horses in the past; and he kept saying that if Michael ever fancied getting a syndicate together to let him know, as he knew between them they could rustle up the members to make it cost effective. 

As it turns out a few weeks later Mike went up the line with trainer Lucy Jones, who was looking for horses, and the breeder asked Mike if he wanted one - but Mike said he couldn't afford it.  Then the breeder said if Michael would look after a few foals on his farm for him he could have one - and the rest is history!

“He came back to our shop and said, “I've got a horse and if we want to get him in training let’s get a syndicate together.” 

“I got my friend Jon Tennick and brother Charlie on board, and Mike had a few regulars from the 'Cresswell Quay pub' 

So ‘Tobefair’ started his journey and later wins seven on the trot!

“For all of us we only ever got involved in the hope he'd give us some good social days out, and if you'd said he'll win one race in his career I think we'd have been happy, as we were certainly all aware of the challenges involved in national hunt racing.

“Firstly under the guidance of Lucy Jones and then onto Debbie and Paul Hamer, it was steady progress initially, finishing midfield on his first few starts, then one day at Worcester he stormed home to win. 

“We couldn't believe it and were over the moon, and so happy for the horse: add to that some got him at odds of 25-1 so it was a pretty good day. We still can't quite believe what came next...... incredibly he went onto win his next six races, making it a seven-timer and becoming the most improved handicap hurdler of all time.”

Mixing with Royalty as Princess Anne chats to him!

“He gained entry to the Pertemps Grade Two hurdle final at the famous Cheltenham Festival in March 2016 and he was one of the most talked about horses in the build-up, due to his humble beginnings, and of course his small time syndicate of Pembrokeshire owners was now literally rubbing shoulders with Royalty and racing’s elite. 

“Princess Anne approached me in the paddock and asked me if that was Tobefair colours (I had a scarf on!) 
“Yes Ma’am,” I replied, and we had a lovely chat about the horse and Pembrokeshire. All the TV crews wanted the story!  A 52 seater and numerous mini buses travelled up to support and a crowd of over 65,000 in attendance - so what a day it was.
‘Tobefair’ didn't run particularly well but got home safely - he seemed to use up a lot of nervous energy in the parade ring and Paul put this down to the crowd because he didn't have earplugs in and hadn't experienced anything like that before!)”

Amazing Pertemps 2nd place - and two more wins after that

The following year ‘Tobefair’ gained entry to the same race again but unfortunately he had to be pulled out due to a leg knock but when he returned the next season he once again qualified for the Pertemps final at the festival: he ran the almost perfect race and incredibly finished 2nd, beaten by a neck.

“He won another two races at Cheltenham the following season and his rating was high for handicapping so that we felt he deserved a go in the Grade1 feature race 'Stayers Hurdle' - and once again he proved his quality finishing a gallant 5th place ahead of superstar and favourite 'Paisley Park' 

“He's now 11 years old and this season he's had a couple of runs in handicaps but with his high rating he's had to carry top weight in testing conditions. Still he's run his race and pleased everyone so it's onto the festival and another go at the Stayers’ Hurdle, where they'll all carry similar weight on March 18th.

“Last year the festival had a lot of bad press for going ahead with covid on the horizon, but the government deemed it fit, along with Champions’ League football and pop concerts. We were in attendance and felt safe during a fantastic day out cheering on our boy – and it was great to see ‘Lisnager Oscar’ with Pembrokeshire connections win the race, trained by Becky Curtis, so we helped them celebrate afterwards and it seemed half of Pembrokeshire was in attendance!

“Whatever happens in the future our main wish is that ‘Tobefair’ gets home safely because he's given us some fantastic days out and we're so grateful to be part of his story.