Australian trainer Jeremy Gask will return home later this year after completing a successful decade-long stint in England.
The 43-year-old moved from Adelaide in 2007 having saddled over 250 winners in the South Australian Metropolitan Premiership, and has almost 200 victories to his name as a UK trainer.
He is closing in a deal to set up base on the NSW Central Coast where he aims to build up a stable good enough to compete in the big Sydney and Melbourne metropolitan meetings from 2018 after a difficult last 12 months.
Gask had looked set to remain in England for the long haul after relocating to a new training facility at Danebury in Hampshire last year but the move was beset with bad luck when a virus swept through the yard, resulting in the stable sending out just 17 winners in 2016.
Gask also had some of his most promising horses sold and although he’s saddled 12 winners in the last two weeks, he said the time was now right to take his young family back home.
“We moved to Danebury at the start of last year and we were hoping to build the numbers,” Gask told AAP.
“If you had asked me six months ago I wouldn’t have entertained the thought of leaving but they say when you know, you know.
“The virus really curtailed us and it was at a crucial time where we needed to build numbers.
“Horses were being sold and not replaced and that coincided with some conversations back in Australia about training back out there.”
Powerful stables like Coolmore and Godolphin have made it more difficult than ever for smaller stables to compete in the big races and Gask said that frustration has also taken its toll.
“It is a challenge for the small to medium trainer,” he said.
“Owners have to sell for the right offers. It’s not a complaint, just an observation.
“I want to be able to compete and I am lucky enough to have that opportunity when I go back.
“We won’t be starting from where we left off, we’ll have to rebuild but we’ll have the support of some great people back there.”
Although Group One success has eluded Gask he will leave with an abundance of happy memories, many courtesy of sprint star Medicean Man, a four-time Dubai winner.
The 11-year-old came closest to breaking the G1 duck when he was touched off in a photo-finish for the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot two years ago and will bow out in the same race in June with more than $1.2 million in prize money to his name.
“In that King’s Stand, I experienced the highest of the highs and then the lowest of the lows within the space of a minute,” Gask said.
“It will be a great for him to go out at Ascot and it’s some consolation knowing that I won’t be leaving him behind for someone else.
“I’ll leave with a bit of unfinished business in not being able to crack that Group One or be as consistent in the big races as I would have liked. But it’s been a wonderful time.
“If I’d stayed in Australia I would never had runners in Ireland, Dubai, Qatar, Germany and France.”