Twenty minutes before the much-anticipated The Kosciuszko winners' draw on Friday, Goulburn trainer Tash Burleigh saddles up Delude on her home track, the horse having his own mountain to climb after a loss of form, a suspension and a change of stables.
After winning his maiden at just start number two, Delude posted some mixed results for the Danny Williams stable before being sold to Burleigh via auction. He spent most of autumn and winter in the paddock and whilst the gelding continues to be a work in progress, there are signs that Burleigh has him heading in the right direction once more.
He resumed at Nowra late last month in a class one where the first six horses were separated by just one and a half lengths, but it was Delude that caught the eye, closing off late from back in the field for fourth. Burleigh said that run gave her plenty to work with for the campaign ahead.
“I was very pleased with his first-up run. It gave me a strong indication the horse was full of confidence this time in and happy to be a racehorse,” Burleigh said.
Burleigh was prepared to take a bit of a wait and see approach to how this campaign would unfold but a class one on her home track seemed to say “pick me”.
“The race at Goulburn was the only one that really jumped out at us. There were a couple of others around, but the big roomy track at home really drew me to running here on Friday.”
Burleigh says she can't fault his work on the track since that first-up effort and hopes just sticking to his routine will deliver results in the longer term: “He’s just done trackwork since Nowra. This race is a tad shorter than I would have liked, but the horse is well and second-up this will suit him nicely going forward in his prep.”
The Goulburn trainer said despite winning only one race to date, she feels like there are good times ahead for the son of Delago Deluxe and his large contingent of owners.
“There are a great bunch of owners in him, a few first timers and a few seasoned. He was a nice cheap purchase, so we just want to go around and have some fun! There will definitely be a few of them there on Friday, they are highly excited!”
The young Goulburn trainer has picked up this season where she left off last season. She has notched two winners and two runner-up results from eight starters since the new season began.
Whilst another season like the last with a high strike rate could easily earn her the nickname 'Cash Burleigh', the trainer isn’t ‘deluding' herself about the slim chance of a The Kosciuszko "golden ticket" coming her way.
“Any country trainer would love one of the few opportunities there are to be involved. Like many other stables we have a horse prepped and ready if someone wants to share that golden ticket!”
Goulburn CEO, Robyn Fife, believes that any of the Goulburn trainers would do a The Kosciuszko ticket holder proud: “Our trainers and their gallopers are always extremely competitive wherever they step out.
"Whether it’s here at home on our big track, a Highway handicap in Sydney or any of the country carnivals that they target with their horses, the Goulburn-trained horses are always in the mix,” Ms Fife said.
“Any of The Kosciuszko winning ticket holders are more than welcome to contact Goulburn Race Club to find out more about our trainers and arrange a meet and greet with any of them.”
Goulburn’s eight-race card kicks off at 12pm on Friday with “The Kosciuszko Drawn Today” Class One Handicap timed to go at 3.40pm! Goulburn’s track is currently rated a Good 4 for the meeting.