The price was right on Tact Denzel
By Garrick Knight
Steve Lock really didn’t want to take on Tact Denzel late last year. Until he heard the magic word.
“They’ve got to be priced right for me, and that is free,” he quipped after the seven-year-old finally cleared maidens at Gore on Sunday.
“I wasn’t that interested because he’d been through a few stables.
“He beat my horse Shindal when they qualified at the Balfour trials and that’s really the only reason I agreed to take him.
“Bill McDonald had him then, and he sacked him, then I think Rory (McIlwrick) bought him and got sick of him.
“After that Brian Norman got him then Matt Saunders had him and he didn’t hang around there for long at all. One start, I think.
“And that’s when I got him.
“He was free and he had beaten Shindal so I figured there must have been some ability in there somewhere.”
There hasn’t been any magic turnaround for Lock – Tact Denzel had placed just twice for him in 28 runs before Sunday’s win in the hands of McIlwrick.
“He had been a wee bit of a pain in the butt on the lead so the last couple of weeks I’ve put him in the cart to gallop and it seems to have woken him up.
“Rory said that today he was a lot better and more enthusiastic whereas usually he would be trying to scrub him up a lap out.”
Lock doesn’t expect Tact Denzel to suddenly start winning with regularity after clearing maidens.
“He’s just an ordinary horse; the two times he ran second, things went his way and he got a reasonably handy trip.
“And that was the key today – he stepped and got handy in the trail, which was half the battle.
“They didn’t go any great time, but he still went faster than the other ones.”
The win was the third for the Lock/McIlwrick combination since the latter returned to driving late last season after the best part of a year away from race day driving.
“I was short a driver one day and I text Rory and asked him if he would be interested.
“He was working for Phil Williamson and happy just doing that but I twisted his arm and I think he’s glad I did.
“He said to me, you know, if you hadn’t contacted me, I still wouldn’t be driving. He’s in a good space and was happy with his lot.
“But I know he’s loving being back out there driving again.
“What I love about Rory is none of the horses come back in with a welt mark.”
Lock is the first to admit he’s never had the best winning strike-rate as a trainer because he only gets other trainer’s giveaways, but he’s had five winners this year and is arguably in ‘career best’ form.
He admits to being just as excited by the run of stable newcomer Honour Scroll, who ran home well for sixth.
“I think I took more enjoyment out of her run than Tact Denzel’s win.
“I’m excited by what she could do this season.”