Jungle Edge hasn’t had to pull Mick Bell back from the brink, but the wet track specialist has pushed the grieving trainer through some heavy going.
The six-year-old gelding’s unexpected third in the Group One Galaxy at Rosehill last weekend was particularly timely for Cranbourne-based Bell, as he comes to to terms with the death of his wife Bev to breast cancer six weeks earlier.
“He’s been a great horse for us, and now he’s been a tonic,” Bell said.
Encouraged by the veteran’s performance on a heavy 10 when he raced at Rosehill for the first time, Bell has asked the pride of his small stable to back up in Saturday’s Group Three Star Kingdom Stakes (1200m).
And with Rosehill again rated a heavy 10 on Friday, Bell was optimistic Jungle Edge – a $51 outsider in the Galaxy – would again thrive in conditions foreign to him back home in Victoria.
The markets agree, with Jungle Edge at $4.80 with the TAB behind Danish Twist and Impending ($4).
“All he needs is a soft track but the heavier the better because it affects the other horses,” Bell said.
He hopes the forecast for more rain is accurate given he is in no rush to head home to Devon Meadows.
“If he runs well I’m pretty sure we’ll leave him here and take him over to Randwick in a couple of weeks and if he bolted in we’d think the TJ Smith (next Saturday),” Bell said.
“That’s probably dreaming because it’s a $55,000 late entry fee.”
Jungle Edge banked $70,000 for trailing Russian Revolution and Redzel home in The Galaxy, easily the best collect of his 33-race career, and one that didn’t surprise Bell.
“Realistically he was only carrying 51 (kg), he had a good barrier and I just know the horse, I knew he would run a race,” he said.
His only regret was Bev was not there to witness Jungle Edge’s signature run.
A farrier for 40 years, Bell returned to training two years ago after taking time out to help raise their three sons.
“It’s just a shame that once we were able to kick back a little bit she got sick. It’s just a real shame,” he said.
Bell trained his first winner, Triptych, in 1987 took a break in 2002 and celebrated four months after his return when Ovahead scored at Mornington in September, 2015.
“I intend to spend the rest of my working days mucking around with a few horses,” he said.
“Hopefully the ride with Jungle Edge lasts a little longer to maybe get me into that next bracket where people will give me a horse rather than me have to buy them all.”