By Tony Megahey
Prolific regional trainer Max Crockett has won the Gilgandra Cup and Town Plate on multiple occasions and he offers a unique insight into his long and profitable association with leading jockey Mathew Cahill heading into Sunday’s great day in the Golden West.
The 73-year old Mudgee trainer combines with Cahill on performed Lancelot in the $35,000 Gilgandra Sporting Club Cup (1600m), and ex Les Bridge sprinter Richard the First in the $25,000 Gilgandra Newspapers 1100m Town Plate. 50-year-old Cahill has ridden more than 2200 winners during his career and Crockett is full of praise for him.
“If Mathew Cahill had stayed in Sydney apprenticed to Jack Denham he would have won as many Group races as Hugh Bowman by now; that’s how good he rides,” Crockett said.
“He’s got magic hands, I call him ‘cotton fingers’ and he’s a complete horseman.
“Ol’ cranky Jack was up there with TJ Smith and Bart Cummings as a trainer when I was breaking in horses for them. Jack rang Mathew’s mother and begged her to get him to stay in Sydney.
“Jack was real tough on riders but a great judge of them too but Mathew was a young country kid homesick and he missed family.
“I’m close to them still, and I can’t remember just how many winners he’s ridden for me in the premiership years and looking at his rides on Sunday, he’s the jockey to follow.
“My two will be competitive without being over confident.”
Cahill has won five races on Lancelot, a dual winner at Gilgandra. The 11- race winning veteran has earned top weight of 61kg.
Richard the First won several metropolitan races for Bridge before moving on to an unsuccessful campaign in Queensland. He was then transferred to Crockett.
Max has trained winners on every city track. He previously broke in “around 7000” yearlings for Cummings, Smith, Denham, Neville Begg, the Inghams and Gooree Stud. He has cut back to training just four horses after a severe back accident and leaves the pre-training to his son, Cameron, forging a highly successful career.
“I’ve seen Richard the First’s city wins for Les who is a life-time mate,” Crockett said.
“He’s got a good turn of foot, goes well fresh, and while he’s obviously not as good as those Sydney seasons, he’s done well for me here since he came back from Queensland.
“He was going well enough to give him a couple of runs in Sydney but he’s back in the right grade now. From the inside draw, Mathew will give him every possible chance but it’s a tough race, always is at carnival time.”
Lancelot can be guaranteed to also race on pace in the Cup.
“Gilgandra is a short run home, so you’ve got to be on pace. This old horse had excuses at Orange; he jarred up on a firm track. While 1600m is his limit, he has won twice at Gilgandra on pace.
“It’s not as tough a run on a tighter track than some of the others in the region, so you can kick on the turn and pinch it.”
Gilgandra officials have catered for a typical bumper holiday crowd and races have been put back to an earlier start 11.15am to accommodate the forecast high temperature.