On Friday, champion jockey Danny Beasley added another string to his bow, winning his first race as a trainer when Tropical Breeze triumphed in the $50,00 Super Maiden (1000m) at Wagga.
Registered as a trainer/jockey, Beasley was also in the saddle as the three-year-old breezed to a nearly two-length win.
The 14-time Group 1 winning jockey said it was a special moment, made all the better because it happened on his home track and where it all started.
“I was really hoping that’s how it would play out,” Beasley told NSW Country and Picnic Racing.
“I wanted to get my first winner at Wagga and on the home track; it’s where I grew up, so it worked out really well.”
Beasley had started the Denman filly – owned by good friend Mark Newnham – at Wagga on December 22, where she finished sixth in a 1065m $50,000 Super Maiden, and he went back to Wagga confident she was a winning chance.
“She had worked really well going into her first run,” Beasley said.
“She tried well, but she hadn’t really been under much pressure because she had done everything easily.
“She went into that first race against Craig Widdison’s horse, and it went out quick and ran a track record, and it took her right out of her comfort zone.
“She came up a bit short, and that can be expected, but she came out of the run super, trained well, and showed me that she’s got a bit of toughness about her.
“She’s not big, but she’s got guts and heart, and as the next two weeks went on, she showed me that she was ready to race again.
“Then the Super Maiden came up a bit weaker than the two weeks prior, and we drew great, and I went there quietly confident.”
Beasley, who loves riding for other trainers, wasn’t sure he loved riding for himself, with the veteran jockey describing a new type of pressure he wasn’t used to.
“I don’t enjoy it,” Beasley laughed when asked what it was like to ride for himself.
“I’ve been riding for 30 years, and I don’t know how many races I’ve ridden in, but at the standard that I rode at, you get to the point that nothing really fazes you, whether it’s a Group 1 at Singapore or Randwick or a Maiden at Wagga.
“It was different this time; I don’t know if it was nerves, but anxiety.
“I have high expectations when I ride, and training won’t be different, and I guess there was that little bit of pressure I put on myself.
“Plus, I’ve made a career as a jockey, and everyone knows what you can do, but when your name is in the race book with a ‘T’ beside it, everyone is looking at you and thinking. ‘He can ride, but can he train?’ and a lot have tried and failed, and there are some good ones, and I want to be one of those good ones.”
The 48-year-old, who only arrived back in Australia in late 2022 following a successful stint in Singapore, hasn’t missed a beat since returning, booting home more than 80 winners.
Beasley has commenced 2023/34 in fine style, riding 38 winners, including 33 in the country, placing him at seventh on the NSW Country Jockey’s premiership.
The veteran jockey is enjoying himself in the saddle, and he won’t be rushing toward a full-time transition to training.
“When I first came back, it was an open book, and I didn’t know how I would go,” Beasley said.
“I hoped to come back and be competitive and was happy to ride around home and settle back in, but the phone has been ringing, and I was managing myself, and I’ve got to the point I couldn’t do it any longer, so I got myself a manager, and it has been great.
“The year went well beyond my wildest dreams and what I expected, so there is no end date to my riding, and I’m still really enjoying it.”
Beasley conceded that training was the eventual goal and that he would take his time with manageable numbers before looking to get any bigger.”
“The more serious I get about training, that’s when I will have to stop the riding,” Beasley said.
“I’m not quite ready; I’ll see how the next 12 months go before making any decisions.
“At the moment, (Racing NSW) let me have five in work, which is a manageable amount.
“I’ve only ever had three in work at one time, and it keeps me busy, especially if you ride a couple of days a week.
“I am lucky I can lean on Tim Donnelly and his staff because my horses are stabled there, and if I’m away for an afternoon, they can throw the feed in and put them on the walker.
“I would like to always have five, but we’ll work toward that.”
Beasley, who’s remained humble throughout his glittering career, was simply pleased to be doing what he loves so close to home.
“It’s amazing this game,” Beasley said.
“I am indebted to the industry. I’ve got a lot out of it, and it’s good to be able to pay it back and support local racing.”