Wagga trainer celebrates first winner

Darrell Burnet leads Idle Fancy and Blaike McDougall around the parade ring prior to the 1180 Class One handicap at Gundagai-Adelong race Club on Friday.

The Gundagai-Adelong Race Club will forever be close to the heart of Darrell Burnet, who prepared his first winner there on Friday. 

The Wagga trainer had Idle Fancy going around in the final event on the New Year’s Day card, the 1180m Class One Handicap, and the four-year-old didn’t disappoint, cantering in for an easy 3.1 lengths win. 

The Krupt gelding was ridden a treat by Blaike McDougall, and left Burnet and his large group of followers ecstatic after the breakthrough win. 

“It was a great feeling, it panned out exactly how we wanted.” Burnet said. 

“I’ve taken a couple to the races that have been thereabouts and it was great to crack a win and it was great he won quite easily.”

Burnet was especially happy that he could win the race for Idle Fancy’s former trainer and owner, Merv Norman. 

“Idle Fancy’s previous trainer, Merv Normam, is quite unwell at the moment, and it was good for him to win,” Burnet said.  

“He had a major heart attack earlier in the year but he was rapt when I called him after the race and told him it won; he bred the horse and was really happy.” 

Burnet had Idle Fancy nominated for multiple races at Gundagai, and was sweating on his galloper running out the 1180m, which he did easily in the end. 

“We had him in the 1000m race, and there were a few that looked like they would be going forward and there was a chance he could get run of his legs, whereas in the 1180m, I knew he would get a good cart around and it was just a matter of him running out the distance.”

In what makes the win so much more rewarding for Burnet, Idle Fancy has been a real work in progress, having been embargoed by stewards on multiple occasions due to his gate manners, most recently at Corowa on December 17.

“I thought he would go okay at Corowa, and he lost the jockey in the barriers and that was his third embargo he has had on him, and his first one for me,” Burnet said.

“We gave him another trial at Corowa and (Brad Clarke) was on board and with his experience, he guided him around nicely for second and got the embargo lifted.”

It was this trial result that had Burnet confident of a strong showing at Gundagai. 

“Off his trial on Monday, Clarkey was on board and he is an SDRA retired jockey, so he is quite heavy but considering everything, he still ran a good second and we knew he would be a chance,” Burnet said. 

The 24-year-old trainer said Idle Fancy would win more races, and he believes he has found out the secret to keeping him well behaved.

“He has a few tricks, I don’t think it’s naughtiness, but he just needs to be kept busy,” Burnet said.  

“We need to keep him in a routine, and not give him the chance to get fresh and get above himself, and with the trial (at Corowa), we have worked it out.

“With the delay at the start of the race at Gundagai, he had every chance to play up, but he behaved really well and won really well.”

The Mornington product, who is good friends with Dylan Dunn, was also a picnic jockey and even won a race, before turning his attention to training and studying in Wagga. 

“I grew up in Mornington next to the race course down there and I got a job with a local trainer when I was 15,” Burnet said. 

“Growing up, I went to school with Dylan Dunn and we started riding track work together, and Dylan went for his apprenticeship and I went and got my picnic jockey’s licence.

“I won one race, and slaughtered a bunch more and sort of retired, and I was at a bit of a crossroads and could have worked my way as a foreman and assistant trainer in Mornington, but I instead came to CSU to study a Bachelor of Equine Science.”

It was this decision to study in Wagga that led Burnet to working with leading Southern Districts Racing Association trainers before choosing to carve out his own career. 

“I came to Wagga to study and my mate hooked me up with Gary Colvin, then I went to Uni, got a degree and it was a natural progression to start training,” Burnet said. 

“Then Gary was looking for someone to break in a few horses, then Donna Scott was looking for someone to break in a few more horses, and its grown from there.

“I am taking care of 16, and of those 16, there are three race horses and the rest are pre trainers and breakers.”

Burnet leases his stables of Colvin, and praised the facilities he has available to him when preparing his horses. 

“I lease stables of Gary Colvin just over the levee bank and I’m just off the track, but we back onto the nature reserve too,” Burnet said. 

“We swim them and go down the river and it is set up as a nice little establishment.”

Burnet didn’t envision returning to Victoria anytime soon, suggesting it only made sense to stay in Wagga. 

“It makes sense to stay here with all the initiatives Racing NSW have on, plus there is lots of racing and there is a lot of passionate people who love racing and for someone like myself, it just makes sense to be around this area,” Burnet said. 

Burnet will hope to train his second winner at Wagga on Thursday when Unsugared contests race four, the 1600m Maiden Handicap.