Logan McNeil

McNeil aiming to make 'A Good Move' on debut

Gerald Egan has earned a reputation as the apprentice master, and Logan McNeil will become the latest young recruit to fall off the Mansfield trainer’s production line when he makes his race debut tomorrow (Friday, 11 April). 

McNeil has two rides at Wangaratta for Egan, whose previous proteges include Group 1-winning hoops Nick Hall and Luke Nolen, the man who guided Black Caviar to 22 of her 25 consecutive wins.

McNeil will be following in the footsteps of his big brother Jye, a two-time Rising Stars Series champion who is fast approaching 500 wins in the saddle and recently notched his first Group 2 success aboard Fifty Stars in the Ajax Stakes. 

Jye had some sage advice for baby brother ahead of his first dance: “Relax, don’t overthink it and try to enjoy it.”

As McNeil Jnr readily conceded, that might prove easier said than done but working in his favour is the close association he has forged with his two mounts, four-year-old mare Richwaite Lady and four-year-old gelding A Good Move. 

He rides them in trackwork every day, which should help calm the nerves which are inevitably experienced by anyone on their first day in a new job – let alone a 17-year-old apprentice with a 500kg horse capable of speeds up to 60km per hour beneath him.

“It was a bit of a surprise when I got the news, but I was obviously excited when I found out,” said McNeil, who will have plenty of moral support trackside with several friends and family making the long journey to Wangaratta.  

“Both horses have already won this preparation, so they’re going pretty well and my job is just to try to steer them. 

“Of the two, I’d say Richwaite Lady (a $6 chance) is probably my best chance. She’s very consistent and is a bombproof horse, but I’ve got a good relationship with both so hopefully they can run well.”

McNeil would have made his debut some time ago, were it not for a trackwork accident last year which resulted in a broken leg and fractured ankle.

He was subsequently sidelined for five months and still has two plates and 11 screws in his leg, but the physical scars have long since healed and the mental scars were erased the first time he got back on a horse. 

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit nervous before getting back in the saddle,” McNeil revealed.  

“But as soon as I got on, those thoughts disappeared and I realised how much I’d missed riding.

“The surgeon was very happy with my recovery and so was my physio, so I knew if they were happy then I didn’t have anything to worry about. It took me a little while to get my confidence levels back to where they were before the fall, but I definitely don’t think about it any more.”

Indeed, the only thing occupying his present thoughts are how races five and eight will pan out tomorrow afternoon. 

“Hopefully I’ve got a long career ahead of me, I’ve had to be patient after my injury but I feel I’m ready now,” he said. 

“Obviously I’d love to get a win, but if it doesn’t happen on Friday then I’m sure I won’t have to wait too long.”