It’s Deja vu for trainer Kieran McDonagh. He’s travelled this path previously with Cockney Crew, but this time he detects there’s a change
Following a brilliant 8 ½ length trial win at Lark Hill on Monday, McDonagh is hopeful the best remains ahead for the Maschino gelding.
Since setting the bar high as a three-year-old in a couple of cracking races, Cockney Crew has been hindered by niggling injury issues.
The complaints were never of a serious nature, but untimely and ultimately frustrating for McDonagh to map out a program.
Two years ago, Cockney Crew ran consecutive second placings behind Regal Power in the Melvista Stakes (2200m) and WA Derby (2400m).
Since then, Regal Power went on to score a Group 1 victory in the Railway Stakes (1600m) and claimed the rich All-Star Mile at Caulfield.
Cockney Crew’s 2019 Railway Stakes bid ended abruptly after a foot abscess and last year an eye complaint ruled him out of the $1 million contest.
Cockney Crew’s trial demolition came almost two months to the day when he folded up and faded to a distant last to Bad Wolf over 1600m.
McDonagh put down that disappointing performance to a virus that had affected his stables.
It’s for that reason he views Cockney Crew’s latest trial as crucial and an important confidence-builder.
“If he didn’t perform there was genuine talk of retirement,” McDonagh said.
“He pulled up brilliantly from the trial and his heart rate was low.
“Jade (McNaught) rode him and said he powered to the line.
“Jade’s ridden him before and knows him well, that’s why I was happy to hear her feedback.
“He’s been working so well at home and I was hoping he would be able to it at the trials as well.
“I’ve just noticed things at home that suggested he had the glint back in his eye and he’s feeling happy within himself.
“I honestly can say that it’s the best I’ve ever had him.
“I just hope I can get a clear run at it with injuries.
“They haven’t been bad, but have come at the wrong time.”
Cockney Crew has been entered for the Railway Stakes on November 20, but McDonagh says how and if he gets there is up for discussion.
He hasn’t ruled stretching the six-year-old out to the Perth Cup (2400m).
“I’ll sit down with the owners to see what they want to do,” McDonagh said.
“The way he went in the trial has renewed the confidence.
“I’m not sure if he will be suited to a Railway and I wouldn’t mind a race like the Perth Cup (2400m).
“And you know he can run the trip after the Derby.
“I just hope we can get to see the best of him.”