By Ray Hickson
There’s a sense of business as usual coupled with the excitement of saddling up her first runner as Annabel Neasham kicks off her training career at Scone on Tuesday.
She was the popular head of Ciaron Maher’s Sydney operation for a couple of years and, though it’s a quick turnaround of less than two weeks since establishing her own Warwick Farm base, Neasham said she’d love Commanding Missile to give her the perfect start.
The three-year-old races in the Aquis Farm colours and is the early $3.60 favourite with TAB in the Segenhoe Handicap (1100m).
“Someone said to me 'everything must be a bit easier now you’re doing it yourself' but I put everything into working at Ciaron’s,’’ Neasham said.
“It’s exciting, of course it is. In terms of day to day it doesn’t feel any different but when you see your own name in the race guide it’s a bit surreal.
“This horse came into Ciaron’s stable but was always going to come with me, it was easier to put him in his name while my license was finalised.
“You’d love to start with a winner. He’s a nice horse, he’s just quite quirky. He isn’t the most straightforward of horses but he has plenty of ability.”
Commanding Missile has technically had five trainers now he’s under Neasham’s name – he trialled at Bathurst in February for Mack Griffith, moved to Joe Pride but for how long is unclear as he then trialled in July for Anthony Cummings.
He stepped out at the Rosehill trials on August 4, where he finished a closing third in a 900m heat, under the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace name but obviously was under Neasham’s care there.
She had nominated the gelding for Wednesday’s Kensington meeting but feels the Scone race, where Brodie Loy takes the ride, is the ideal starting point given his personality.
“I think it will suit the horse, he’s a horse that wants to get a bit of confidence,’’ Neasham said.
“It’s a nice big track and will give him time to balance up and it will be a nice experience which is important to him.
“It’ll map quite nicely for him, I think it’s nice to go to a slightly weaker maiden and hopefully we can progress him to town. He works like a horse that might be quite smart.
“I expect him to run well, it’s hard to go there and expect to win. He is a horse that is talented but he’s quite raw and quite green and will come on a lot for the run.’’
Neasham said by later in the week she expects to have around 20 horses in work but the majority are recently turned two-year-olds so her actual runners will be limited in the short term.
It’s no coincidence that her first runner is for Aquis, who are in the ownership of the likes of Anders and Prague prepared by Neasham for Maher and Eustace in Sydney, pledged support for the 29-year-old when she announced her move into training back in early July.
Commanding Missile runs third in a Rosehill trial on August 4
“I’m so lucky having worked for Ciaron, I’ve worked for some good people over the years, he gave me a lot of opportunity and allows you to think for yourself which makes you learn and grow quicker,’’ she said.
“The two seasons I did in Sydney for him have given me a good platform to kick start my own career.
“Most of the horses I have in the stable are young horses, we will be trying to get some of the precocious types to the races before Christmas.
“In the meantime we’re trying to find tried horses as well so we have horses running and can keep a profile up while we are waiting for the babies to come through.’’
Jack Bruce, former assistant trainer for Bjorn Baker and more recently racing manager for Chris Waller, has taken over Neasham’s role with the Maher/Eustace stable.