Queanbeyan trainer Joe Cleary says War Jet winning at the Magic Millions meeting would not only be the richest win of his career, but it could open a few doors by raising his profile – although his wife Sharlene might prefer a quiet lunch.
Cleary said $5.50-second-favourite War Jet was "the best horse in the race" for the $250,000 Magic Millions Country Cup (1200 metres) on the Gold Coast on Saturday, which is part of Australia's richest race day.
The colourful Queanbeyan trainer has been building his profile over the last year on the back of guiding the Gerry Norman-owned Landlocked to four straight country cup wins last year.
That success has already landed him an unraced three-year-old through a new owner, who approached him on the Gold Coast this week during the Magic Millions sales, but that increased profile comes at a cost.
"Your name's out there [if you win] so even if I don't buy one [at the sales] you might pick up a horse or two to train," Cleary said.
"I'm walking into pubs and clubs up here and people know who you are. In previous years they don't have a clue, you just go and have dinner with your wife and kids, and now they're coming up saying, 'Are you Joe Cleary?'
"My missus is such a quiet lady and she says, 'We can't go anywhere' – this is what happens when you get a couple of decent horses, people know who you are."
He picked out the Country Cup as an ideal race for War Jet four months ago for two reasons – he liked the prizemoney and he felt the race regulations suited the son of War Pass.
The five-year-old gelding arrived on the Gold Coast on December 30 and did trackwork on Tuesday with Nick Olive's Single Gaze, which is a $31 shot in the $2 million Magic Millions Three-year-old Guineas (1400m).
Cleary said War Jet was "still on the up" and he's targeting the listed National Sprint (1400m) on Canberra's Black Opal Stakes Day in March.
The War Pass gelding has won six of his 14 starts, including an emotional win in the Tony Campbell Cup (1400m) in September, along with two placings.
"If you go through the form he's definitely the best horse in the race," Cleary said.
"A few of the owners were a bit hesitant about bringing the horse all this way. They thought it would be a stronger race than what it is, hence the fact he's got 58 kilos. I'm going to the race super confident and let's hope we bring the cash home."
Meanwhile, Canberra's Thoroughbred Park will host an eight-race meet on Friday, with the first race jumping at 1.10pm.