Colin McGillivray saved his best for his home track when his five-year-old mare Em For Miranda saluted at Seymour on Thursday.
It was the Seymour trainer’s first win and while it was not exactly a lifetime in the making it has been a long time coming.
McGillivray has been around racing for years, an enthusiast, an owner and occasional breeder.
But it wasn’t until he retired two years ago that he dedicated himself to becoming a trainer.
‘‘This win was fantastic, so exciting, I guess the first of anything always is,’’ McGillivray said.
‘‘The horse has been very lightly raced, this was the sixth start in her first preparation,’’ he said.
‘‘We actually bought her mother for $3500 while she was in foal and since she has been born she has never spent a night away from home,’’ he said.
‘‘In fact we all had a good laugh after her start at Wangaratta — it was a six-hour round trip — and it was the longest she had ever been away.’’
When Em For Miranda jumped for her first race she finished second — at 70/1.
Last week she started 6/4 favourite and looked like it as the field came down the straight.
McGillivray said she had four placings in her first five starts before her breakthrough win, and described her as ‘‘a very honest horse’’.
‘‘When I started my first horse was an experienced runner which I thought was a good idea — always work with someone who knows a hell of a lot more about what you are doing than you do,’’ he said.
‘‘And the horse did, I learnt a lot.’’
Which all came together on Thursday when Jamie Mott held off challenges from every angle to win by a half neck, with third a long neck further behind.
Mott said he had watched the horse’s previous start and he thought she looked a little bit one-paced.
He said that run was over 1600m.
‘‘So I thought if I could I would be out early and have her roll on just in case she didn’t show a turn of foot,’’ Mott said.
‘‘But she surprised me, she really jogged into the straight and it was a nice win in the end.
‘‘She probably did switch off a bit over the last 50m or so, but she may have also got a bit tired, I did make a long, searching run on her so she was entitled to knock up in that last little bit.
‘‘But 100 per cent I got a kick out of giving the owners their first winner; they seem like really nice people.’’
McGillivray has a pretty high opinion of Mott right now as well.
‘‘This win has been a couple of years in the making and I am absolutely thrilled,’’ he said.
‘‘My ambition was to train a winner; obviously I’m even more thrilled to have trained my first one at Seymour.
‘‘She has been around the mark and from that first 70/1 start she has quietly worked the odds down to this start as favourite.
‘‘And even though she was working overtime coming down the straight, I could see she was going to win.
‘‘She hasn’t had any luck in the draw either, always starting from an outside gate — today it was 10 — forcing her to always be running wide.’’
McGillivray (pictured with Em for Miranda after the race) doesn’t have any grand ambitions, he just loves what he does.
His wife Carol is also a part owner of the horse (and strapper), as is her sister Kate McIntosh.
McGillivray has one horse in work, one being brought on and a younger one ready to be broken in.
‘‘That’s what I work on, three horses,’’ he said.
‘‘Em For Miranda (a granddaughter of the legendary Danehill) will keep going on this preparation; and I reckon she will be good out to 2000m, so I will be looking for another race, somewhere between 1600m and there.’’
There was one last bonus for that first win; McGillivray also qualified for a trip to the winning owner’s room.
That’s been a while coming too.
It was a big day for firsts at the Seymour races.
In the third on the card, the $25000 Goulburn Murray Credit Union over 1200m, Albury trainer Graham Hulm’s Supplyzing won first up from a spell.
It was the four-year-old gelding’s fourth start; unplaced in its previous runs, it paid a whopping $61 on the TAB.