Aaron Bullock fulfils Boxing Day dream at Tumut

Aaron Bullock gives the big Tumut Boxing Day crowd a cheeky salute as he crosses the finishing line and lands a winning double on the Craig Weeding-trained Bethpage.

Aaron Bullock made his long-waited homecoming on Monday, with the leading country hoop making his Tumut debut at the always-popular Boxing Day meeting. 

Riding in front of a 1500-plus crowd, Bullock not once, but twice had the crowd cheering him to the finishing line as he won aboard the Kerry Weir-trained Crocodile Cod in the 1200m Benchmark 58 Handicap before securing his winning-double on the Craig Weeding-trained Bethpage in the 1000m Benchmark 50 Handicap. 

“It was very satisfying,” Bullock told the Tumut and Adelong Times after his victory on Bethpage.

“You can get numb to riding winners when you are riding nearly every day, but it is something special to do it for the first time on my home track. 

“The crowd here was very loud, and I’d say it helps being a home town boy, but I’m absolutely thrilled. 

“Riding at Tumut was one of those things I wanted to tick off the bucket list, and to get my first winner here, and then my second, well it just makes it more satisfying and to do it for Weiry, I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity.

“I grew up here looking through the fence and watching the races and all I dreamt about was being a jockey, and I’ve fulfilled that dream to date, and I feel I’m only getting better at it.”

Crocodile Cod’s victory was no doubt the most popular one on the non-TAB Tumut program, with the Tumut galloper sitting closer than expected before finishing strongly over the six furlongs.  

“To be honest with you, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the crowd go off that loudly before, even at some of those bigger TAB meetings,” Bullock laughed. 

“To hear the crowd just go off like that when I hit the front from about 50 (metres) from home, it was a good feeling and I’m still getting tingles as we talk about it.

“I know winning at Tumut might not mean as much to most other jockeys, but it meant the world to me.”

Bullock didn’t have any instructions, but he went into the race with a plan after walking the track in the days leading up to Monday’s meeting. 

“All I had to do was get this horse to land closer and travel him and Weiry has been around a while, and he knows we are here to do a job and he’s done his job when he hands the reins over, so there were never many instructions,” Bullock said. 

“I just said to him when I got on, ‘I will have him close enough’, and he was obviously the best horse in the race, and I knew he was going to be tough to the line and when I did land close enough, I knew he was going to be hard to beat.”

In the most dominant victory of the day, Bullock and Bethpage never looked like losing in the 1000m sprint, with the event rounding out the Tumut program.   

“Craig left it to me, and he has just bought the horse, but she felt really good throughout the run,” Bullock said.

“I cruised up off a good tempo and I kicked on from there and won easily and I’d say the horse is a fair bit better than a non-TAB horse.”

Bullock was no doubt the toast of Tumut on Monday, and the locals loved interacting with their leading country jockey, who was both approachable and down to earth when chatting with anyone who offered him the time of day. 

The 32-year-old, who made the trip to Tumut with his partner and fellow jockey Amelia Denby, only had Tuesday to celebrate, as he is back in action at Gosford on Wednesday and Coffs Harbour on Thursday.