Jack Bruce has worked in huge stables where winning at the stakes is just seen as another notch on the belt, but the rookie trainer quickly discovered just how tough it was to win ahead of Saturday’s Weetwood Handicap in Toowoomba .
A trusted assistant to Ciaron Maher and Bjorn Baker, Bruce cut his teeth at some of the country’s top stables, but quickly established himself in Queensland, where he is based in Deagon.
While big-race success is an integral part of working at these stables, Bruce had to start from scratch and quickly rose through the ranks to fill his 24 slots.
After a flurry of winners, Bruce is looking for his biggest prize yet on Saturday with Axe, but admits he quickly got a boost on Wednesday when he received the 19 of 19 barrier.
“I wasn’t too happy,” laughed Bruce.
“At the end of the day, it’s racing, isn’t it?”
Bruce is well through the ups and downs of the sport and while winning Saturday’s $150,000 event would be a big milestone in his career, he knows it’s just a small step in his journey. .
“He’s one of my best horses,” Bruce said.
“On the one hand, you want to do the work with the horse, but it’s in the back of your mind that the opportunities at the stakes level don’t come up that often.
“One thing I will say is that I sat in the office with Bjorn Baker and cheered the servants at Orange more vigorously than the Benchmark 78s at Rosehill or even the stakes races.
“I guess everything is different, even when you work for a bigger stable there are personal connections with a lot of horses, there is a story behind the scenes.
“It takes on a whole new level of importance when you train on your own.”
The former Michael Costa-trained sprinter was only narrowly beaten by Garibaldi in the listed gold market a month ago and Bruce said he wouldn’t overfill jockey Sam Collett’s head with too much ideas before the race.
“If he jumps well, we’ll go ahead, I would say, but I’ll give Sam a pretty liberal set of instructions that day,” he said.
“He will have to be good to win from there, but I think he has improved since that race at the Gold Coast.
“I had a good jump at Eagle Farm on Tuesday last week, which was pretty solid work.”
Originally published as Ax to give Jack Bruce his first win in Weetwood Handicap