Jarrod McLean says a long-range plan payed off when Perth-owner galloper Cougar Express won the $250,000 Grand National Hurdle (4200m) in Melbourne on Sunday.
The eight-year-old, ridden by Shane Jackson, finished powerfully over the final 400m and defeated Self Sense by 12 lengths with Bit Of A Lad running third.
“It’s been a process, but I was hoping to plot a path to the Grand National Hurdle and we were hoping he would measure up,” McLean told Tabradio.
“Along the way it’s a process and you want to see them jump well and get their confidence up with the miles in their legs.
“I thought we were a good winning chance and I’m just grateful it was able to come to fruition yesterday.”
Cougar Express won seven races and was placed 11 times from 43 races in Perth before transferring to McLean’s stables.
His highlights included the Bunbury Cup (2200m) and Kalgoorlie Cup (2300m) for previous trainer, Lindsey Smith.
Under McLean the well-travelled Cougar Express won the Oakbank Cup (2150m) and broke his jumping maiden at the Warrnambool carnival earlier in May.
McLean said he was in awe of Cougar Express.
“He is an incredible horse,” McLean said.
“It’s a real credit to the trainers who have had him before me because for an eight-year-old he is very sound and loves doing what he is doing.
“He loves working and you can’t seem to work him harder enough.
“There is no reason why he won’t keep racing for another couple of seasons.”
McLean said Cougar Express will concentrate on racing over the flat for the remainder of the year.
“As far as jumping this prep its job done, “McLean said.
“We have the Jericho Cup at Warrnambool on the 2nd of December, a 3800m flat race that’s worth big money.
“He has no points for that yet to guarantee a start, but we might just plot a course towards that.”