McLean's time to shine after Mackinnon upset

5 min read
Trap For Fools (Poet's Voice {GB}) gave trainer Jarrod McLean his first Group 1 after his upset victory in the Seppelt Mackinnon S.

Jarrod McLean, so often the man behind Darren Weir's biggest successes over the past five years, got his own moment in the spotlight with Trap For Fools' (Poet's Voice {GB}) stirring win in the final Group 1 of the Melbourne spring, the Seppelt Mackinnon S.

McLean has been Weir's Warrnambool lieutenant during an era where Weir has rewritten record books at every turn. But while Weir has won 35 Group 1s, McLean, who runs a small stable of his own horses, had yet to taste glory at the elite level.

That all changed on Saturday after a superb on-the-pace ride by John Allen on the $26 outsider.

Challenged by Irish Derby winner Latrobe (Ire) (Camelot {GB}) over the final furlong, the former Western Australian, who a fortnight ago was adjudged not good enough to contest a G1 Cox Plate, dug deep to score the most significant win for his trainer.

And as Weir has invariably paid tribute to McLean after his big wins, McLean returned the favour after Trap For Fools' success.

"I've learnt so much off him over the last couple of years and I think I help him as much as he helps me." - Jarrod McLean paying tribute to Darren Weir

"Since I've been with Weiry I think we've had 22 Group 1 winners so it's been an unbelievable three-and-a-half years," McLean said. "I've learnt so much off him (Weir) over the last couple of years and I think I help him as much as he helps me."

"Weiry is a great man, he likes people to do well around him and I'm just rapt to be a small part of it."

"Today is a dream come true, absolutely."

Jarrod McLean with his first G1 winner, Trap For Fools

Success to be shared among family

But while Weir's shadow always looms large, for McLean, it was also a significant success for his tight-knit family.

His brother Brad and twin sister Erin, along with his partner Krystal play a huge role in keeping McLean's own stable going while he manages Weir's substantial Warrnambool operation.

It has been that very tight unit of people that have helped McLean through some difficult times, including a six-month suspension in 2013 which threatened to end his career.

Trap For Fools connections

McLean worked in a pizza shop to support his family during that time and when he did return to training he found many of his clients had moved on, leaving just that tight knit group of friends and family to support his career ambitions.

But soon after Weir came calling and McLean's career and reputation have taken a massive upturn, culminating in Saturday's success.

Trap follows Cougar's path east

That Trap For Fools, a prolific winner in Western Australia, ended up with McLean is a story in itself. Lindsay Smith had sent McLean a tough old stayer named Cougar Express (Danehill Express) as a jumps horse the year prior.

It was a successful relationship and Smith, looking to find races for Trap For Fools to still win having raced through his classes in Perth, sent him to McLean.

Trap For Fools returns after his win in the G1 Mackinnon S.

A campaign which started with an unlucky sixth in an open handicap at Moonee Valley in June culminated with a stunning Group 1 win in Flemington in November.

The key to the success may have been, ironically, the Moonee Valley Racing's Club snub of his horse in the Cox Plate.

Plate snub proved a bonus

Instead McLean sent the horse around in the 2500m Moonee Valley Gold Cup, where he was only narrowly beaten by Ventura Storm (Ire) (Zoffany {Ire}). As fate would have it, if he had have won that race, then Trap For Fools would have probably been in the Melbourne Cup and not the Mackinnon.

But the toughness of that run served him well, as Allan, who last week captured the Victoria Derby on Mackinnon S. placegetter Extra Brut (Domesday), rated him perfectly in front .

"It's the best I've seen him kick. He sustained the gallop to the line, it was a great ride by Johnny." - Jarrod McLean

"I was hopeful (today) because we knew he was the leader in the race so it was just a matter of Johnny getting his clock right and cranking him up at the right time," McLean said.

"It's the best I've seen him kick. He sustained the gallop to the line, it was a great ride by Johnny."

Jockey, John Allen

Allen admitted afterwards he thought he was 'toast' when Latrobe strode up to him at the furlong, but he had enough in the locker to get him home.

Allen's own rags to riches story, as the Irish jumps jockey turned Group 1 performer, was documented after his win last week and in many ways mirrors McLean's own rise.

The key character in both stories is Weir, whose influence on Australian racing grows with every success.

"It’s a massive thrill for him and he thoroughly deserves it," Weir said of McLean. "I'm just rapt for him and hopefully it brings a lot more clients his way."