There was a fair amount apprehension for trainer Kieran McDonagh ahead of Tuesday’s barrier trials, but he left Lark Hill in a buoyant mood after the final heat featuring his stable flag bearer Cockney Crew.
After a 15-month absence and a raft of niggling injury and illness concerns, the classy five-year-old made his first public appearance and he didn’t disappoint with a strong on pace winning performance.
Cockney Crew, a son of Maschino, led for jockey Peter Hall, absorbed pressure from Top Rocket and clocked 1:30.99 when winning heat 14 (1450m) by three lengths.
McDonagh, rapt with the trial, has not locked in firm plans for Cockney Crew, but won’t rule out targeting a Country cups campaign.
He was delighted and relived to have his favourite horse back in action.
“It’s been a long time,” McDonagh told The Races WA.
“Nothing major, but it always seemed to happen at the wrong time.
“If it all happened at once it would have been alright, but it was spread out with a foot abscess and a sore eye.
“Nothing major, but thank god we have got him back today (Tuesday).”
Cockney Crew flashed big potential when runner-up to Regal Power in the WA Derby (2400m) and the Melvista Stakes (2200m).
McDonagh was getting him ready for a tilt at the Railway Stakes in 2019 before his setbacks.
Validating McDonagh’s view of Cockney Crew’s trial was Hall.
“It’s great to have Hally on because he knows the horse so well,” McDonagh said.
“He said he felt great and better than he ever did.
“He looked a little bit big, but that trial should have him really right.
“Today (Tuesday) was getting him back and getting over it.
“Probably the Bunbury Cup, the South West Cup and the Pinjarra Cup is the main aim at the moment.
“Where we go before then I’m not one hundred per cent sure yet.”