After Falcon Crest ran an encouraging fifth in the Easingwold Stakes (1400m), Joshua McLeod felt a big weight had been lifted from his shoulders.
Making your debut as a trainer, can be nerve wracking, but there’s an added layer of pressure when you take on a classy, but ageing galloper.
Falcon Crest, a nine-year-old, had not raced for 644 days and was without a win since taking out the Listed Old Comrade Stakes (1600m) in 2018 for Grant and Alana Williams.
For McLeod, saddling up your first starter as a trainer, there was a fair amount of personal pride on the line.
But Falcon Crest responded and his effort to close out the Easingwold Stakes strongly has given McLeod cause for optimism.
The Musket gelding ran hard over the concluding stakes and to get within two lengths of Dig Deep was full of merit.
Buoyed by the run, McLeod thinks there could be some zest left in Falcon Crest’s mature legs.
“I thought it was a massive run,” particularly after being so long out of racing,” McLeod told The Races WA.
“And his work since has been enormous.
“His coat has come on and he is looking good.
“I think he is enjoying a change of environment and new surroundings.
“He’s adapting to my regime which involves a lot of water work.
“He’s had a history of feet issues, but my property is near the estuary and Avalon Beach.
“At the moment he’s just enjoying a pretty relaxed environment.”
Falcon Crest was the inspiration to get McLeod back into racing after a long absence.
The former jockey had close to 700 rides before retiring to work in the mining industry.
McLeod left racing in 1999, but racing never really left him.
“I was always going to come back and get stuck into racing at some stage again,” McLeod said.
“Training was always something I wanted to do.
“It felt like the right time to do it and give it a go.
“I’m young enough and fit enough and have some good backers behind me.
“When I came into Falcon Crest initially, I thought he would make a nice camp draft horse.
“But he was doing too well and looked amazing.
“With encouragement from my pop, I decided to have a go with him.”
Falcon Crest is one of ten acceptors in Saturday’s Australia Day Trophy (1500m) at Ascot.
Rated a $23 hope with Tabtouch, he carries the 62kg topweight for jockey Chris Graham has drawn barrier one.
“His work on Tuesday was the best since I’ve had him,” McLeod said.
“He will need a lot of luck, but I would love for him to produce again.
“I’m happy with him.”
Mindful that Falcon Crest is closer to the end of his career than the beginning, McLeod is reluctant to plan too far ahead.
But if he continues to show improved form there are a couple of races that have been earmarked.
“There are a couple of country cups I have in mind,” McLeod said.
“The South West Autumn Cup and Narrogin Cup are races I’m looking at.
“But he has to warrant going that way.
“The last thing I want to do is hurt the horse.”