KOROIT hobby trainer James McNamara is weighing up a start for emerging stayer Hornets’ Nest at Flemington on Melbourne Cup day after the gelding yesterday gave him his biggest win.
McNamara, who mixes horse training with working in a Koroit milk bar with his wife Lisa, was ecstatic after Hornets’ Nest held off a blistering finish from hot favourite Puissance De Lune in the feature race at Warrnambool.
The 0.4-length victory in the $50,000 Nifty’s Fabulous Fifty Handicap (2200m) brought a big roar from the group of local owners.
McNamara described the triumph as the biggest in his limited training career, which has seen him prepare just four gallopers.
“Brilliant, fantastic,” he beamed. “I said to Lisa before we came ‘no one is picking him but I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins’.”
McNamara took on the five-year-old after Anthony Freedman ran out of patience with the temperamental stayer.
Since joining McNamara, Hornets’ Nest has won four races in five weeks, starting with his maiden at Warrnambool on September 10, a 0-62 rating handicap over 1600 metres at Ararat and the Coleraine Cup.
Yesterday’s $30,000 first prize almost doubled Hornets’ Nest’s earnings to more than $68,000.
“He’s come a long way,” McNamara said.
“He’s done well.
“We bought him for a jumping future.”
But he said those plans had been shelved.
He said his new stable star had thrived since joining him, doing all of his work on the beach at Killarney.
McNamara said he was considering a start in a $100,000 2800-metre race at Flemington on Melbourne Cup day.
Winning jockey Jason Benbow was thrilled to produce a front-running winning ride in a race named in honour of champion jockey Neville Wilson.
Benbow said Wilson had been an inspiration to all jockeys.
“As a director of the jockeys association, I know the amount of work he puts in on behalf of the jockeys as the president of the association,” he said.
Benbow and Hornets’ Nest ($13) jumped to the front at the start of the race and were never headed after kicking clear at the 200m mark.
The Darren Weir-trained Puissance De Lune ($1.20 favourite), which dropped out to last at the 1100-metre mark, launched a spirited burst from the top of the straight but came up short. Outsider Lakedro ($21) was a further 3.7 lengths away third.