OFF the track, Muswellbrook trainer Stephen Gleeson says “things are looking up” three years into his remission from testicular cancer.
And thanks to the aptly-named Don’t Tease Me, the 40-year-old has even more to celebrate on it, after scoring an overdue Sydney Saturday winner.
Don't Tease Me held on in a bold front-running effort to win the 1100-metre benchmark 80 handicap at Rosehill on Saturday, half a length ahead of the previously unbeaten, Jason Deamer-trained Bon Amis.
The six-year-old gelding had twice been pipped on the post in Sydney, but got the job done this time around.
“He’s been heartbreakingly close,” Gleeson said on Sunday. “Last prep he went to Warwick Farm and he led everywhere bar the winning post. We thought he’d won, it was that close.
“The prep before that he went to Randwick on a bottomless track, and he doesn’t normally like wet tracks, and he led again bar the shadows of the post. Thank God he hung on yesterday because he’s given us nightmares.”
Don’t Tease Me delivered Gleeson a Doomben Saturday victory in 2015 but the most recent win was his first at the same level in Sydney. It was a satisfying success for Gleeson, who believed the 3.5-kilogram claim of apprentice Rachel Hunt would give his $20 chance a hope of upsetting Bon Amis ($2.30 favourite)
“He normally leads most horses, and especially with the low weight, with the claim, we thought this was our big chance,” he said. “We thought if we can try and rate him out front, let him run along a bit and see if he can get them off the bridle, get a kick with no weight, and for once it worked out well.
“[Bon Amis] is certainly a handy horse that will win better races by the look of it. There was a lot of depth in the race yesterday and our bloke had never won past 1050 metres either so we needed every bit of that claim to pull it off.”
The breakthrough win came after Gleeson enjoyed positive news on his health.
“I’ve been three years now in remission and I spoke to the doctors last week at the Mater,” he said. “The doctor is really happy. With my sort of cancer, the doctor said, touch wood, that if it was going to come back, it would have come back by now.
“The signs are very good, but they monitor you for five years. At this stage, things are looking up.”
Gleeson has been training in his own right for about 13 years and was an apprentice jockey to his father, Jim. His grandfather, Roger Gleeson, was also a successful trainer and won the 1972 Newcastle Cup with Glimpse-O-Gold.
Don’t Tease Me was bred by Stephen’s brother, Jason, and his wife, Melanie, who are also part-owners in the horse along with Jim.
Meanwhile, Hunter owners were mourning on Sunday the loss of two horses.
The Kris Lees-trained Rustic Melody collapsed and died, while Australian Bloodstock’s former Caulfield and Melbourne Cup favourite Admire Deus was euthanised after multiple surgeries on suspensory ligament damage suffered last month.