Sometimes it’s the small wins that count as much as the big ones.
Darren McAuliffe has trained bigger winners, a host of WA group and listed victories sit high on his list of achievements, but Military Ruler’s Belmont success on Saturday was tinged with extra satisfaction.
Showcasing McAuliffe’s expert horsemanship skills, his faith, when others had lost hope and his persistence, when many had given up, Military Ruler made a spectacular return to the winner’s stall.
Having his first start in nine months and ending a losing spell of 1071 days, Military Ruler overcame all obstacles and breathed new life into his ageing seven-year-old legs with a sparkling 1 ¼ length victory.
Amid a big throng of delighted owners, supporters and a gathering group of well-intentioned backslappers, stood a relieved and satisfied McAuliffe, who modestly downplayed his role in the emotional win.
“A lot of work has gone into it,” McAuliffe said.
“He’s got average feet, we’ve retired him on a couple of occasions.
“There is a lot of people to thank and I will get most of the credit, but no, it’s all the staff and application to little details.
“That’s the result and if you don’t dot the i’s and cross the t’s then you don’t get these type of results.
“It is very fulfilling.”
Military Ruler, a son of Universal Ruler, launched his career in 2014 and won his first race at his second start when he defeated Keysbrook at Belmont.
His overall record now stands at six wins and 10 placings from 34 starts with $315,800 in prizemoney and $40,000 in Westspeed bonuses.
The gelding has raced in three stakes races with his best result a third to Stocks in the Listed Farnley Stakes (1400m) in 2016.
Despite a relatively modest record McAuliffe says Military Ruler holds a special place in his heart.
“He does,” McAuliffe said.
“He was one of the first Universal Ruler’s born and actually might be the first.
“He is just a lovely horse with a big motor.
“If it wasn’t for his physical disabilities he would be a lot better.”
It took a lot of love, nurturing and caring to turn Military Ruler around and return him to the winner’s list after a long and extended losing spell.
But McAuliffe is confident with the same amount of attention it won’t be three years before he is wearing the satisfied glow of another coveted victory.
“What I’ve done with him I know where we are at this prep,” McAuliffe said.
“I’ve just been able to train him as I need to this prep.
“We will see how he pulls up, but I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve nowadays.
“I’m very, very happy and it’s very rewarding.”