Negus celebrates 500 training wins
By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk
Burnham horseman Bruce Negus celebrated his 500th training win at Addington Raceway on Sunday, courtesy of Apatchofgold in the Macca Lodge Fillies & Mares Mobile Pace (1980m).
While he enjoyed bringing up the milestone, Negus was more animated about the performance of his juvenile filly on debut.
The daughter of Racing Hill did a fair bit of work to get to the lead at the bell and she was able to show her tenacity when holding off her opposition to win by a half neck.
Negus was delighted with the win and believes the filly has a bright future.
“It was outstanding because she had to work very hard,” Negus said. “She is very green, and we made a last minute gear change, which appeared to work.
“She is very much a work in progress but I think she is an outstanding horse, she might be the best filly I have driven.
“She has a lot of talent, which is untapped as yet because she is still learning. I suspect that she will become a top filly.”
Reflecting on his career, there is one victory that stands out above the rest for Negus – Courage Under Fire’s record setting win in the Australian Derby.
“The sixth Derby with Courage Under Fire was the crowning glory of his campaign,” Negus said.
“If he had only won five of them it would never have been the achievement we wanted it to be, which was a world record of six Derbys.
“When he won the Australian Derby and set a track record, that was the greatest thrill of my career.”
Courage Under Fire proved to be a once in a lifetime horse and Negus said it was a thrill to train an animal of his quality.
“He was as exciting to train as he was to race because he was kind of like a hand grenade just waiting to go off,” Negus said.
“He had an enormous willingness, if you let his head go just a little bit he would go from jogging to high speed and wanting more, he just loved to run.”
While diminutive in size, Negus said he had unbelievable speed and he knew he had something special on his hands the first time he took the colt to the trials.
“Like a lot of horses with high speed, he found it hard to go in a straight line because he had so much speed. Once he went to the trials and he went so well, we felt we had something special,” Negus said.
The son of notable trainer Bob Negus, Bruce always had a passion for harness racing, but it wasn’t until later in life that he decided to follow his passion of racing.
“My father was a trainer and driver,” Negus said. “He helped Brent Smith and they combined to win the New Zealand Cup with Armalight.
“He won an Oaks with his very first horse called Glint, and he won a Derby with a much younger brother called Willie Win.
“He was a really accomplished trainer, he didn’t train publicly but he made a living out of getting horses going and selling them.
“I worked for 17 years in harvesting and I enjoyed it a lot but made a career change later in life and started training horses.
“I sold a lot (of horses) with a friend of mine, Martin Herbert, who has Herbert Bloodstock.
“I used to source horses here and trialled them and learnt to differentiate between a good one and a bad one.”
Eventual Group One winner Ginger Man was one of those “good ones” and his sale to Greg Brodie led to a great association between the pair, with Negus training a number of quality horses for the Australian, including Courage Under Fire and Sly Flyin.
“The first really good horse I had was Ginger Man and he ended up winning three Derbys for Barry Purdon,” Negus said.
“That is what started the connection with Greg Brodie, which led to Courage Under Fire and Sly Flyin.”
Negus has also enjoyed long-standing relationships with a couple of key owners, including Trevor Casey.
“We had Africa for Trevor Casey, but before Africa, Trevor and I had a lot of average horses but had a lot of fun with them,” Negus said.
“Africa was the turning point for Trevor’s ownership and he had terrific horses after that.”
While Negus enjoyed reaching 500 career wins on Sunday, he is looking forward to the future with a few promising horses in his barn, including Apatchofgold.