Fremantle forward Hayden Ballantyne celebrated his first win as a trainer after the heavily backed Mankind hung on for a thrilling victory at Belmont on Wednesday.
Firming from his opening price of $11 to jump the $3.60 favourite, Mankind gave punters a few worrying moments in the straight, but the Denman gelding revealed his fighting qualities.
Rated perfectly in front by emerging apprentice, Jade McNaught, Mankind lifted in the dying stages to defeat Kimberley Charm by along neck with She’s Alright two lengths third.
Mankind is part-owned by several of Ballantyne’s Docker team mates including Joel Hamling, Aaron Sandilands, Alex Pearce and Brandon Matera.
“The heart is still racing and the boys are all excited,” Ballantyne told The Races WA.
“It’s fantastic to get the result.
“It’s a great win for us and I’m super excited.”
Mankind, a three-year-old, who scored his second win from nine starts, transferred to Ballantyne’s stable after he was granted a trainer’s license earlier this year.
Ballantyne is the son of Graeme Ballantyne, who scored a big upset victory when his stayer Talent Show at big odds took out the 2013 Perth Cup (2400m) at Ascot.
A half-brother to 2014 WA Derby (2400m) champion, Respondent, Mankind was previously trained by Grant and Alana Williams and raced by top owner-breeder Bob Peters.
“Thanks to Grant Williams who has helped me out a lot,” Ballantyne said.
“The old boy (Graeme) obviously helps me to train him.
“And Mr Peters for giving me the opportunity of getting a good horse to start with.
“A lot of support and I’m over the moon.”
Hayden was recruited by the Dockers with pick 21 in the 2008 National Draft and made his debut a year later in round 12 against Collingwood.
The 31-year-old has played 169 matches and was named in the All-Australian team in 2014.
Ballantyne said it was difficult to compare wins between racing and football.
“This (Racing) is more enjoyable because it’s over so quickly,” Ballantyne said.
“In a game you have a lot going on and things happen all the time.
“But this (Racing) you have a minute and a half and two minutes top and then it’s all over.
“It’s a bit more intense I think.”