By Hayley Wildes
Owning a racehorse can be like living life on a roller-coaster.
Just ask Pakenham’s Troy Wilson.
One day you’re winning races and on top of the world, the next you find yourself – and your horses – in a rut.
But chasing the thrill of high-flying wins is what keeps you coming back for more.
Wilson’s journey with horse racing began a couple of decades ago when he met his future wife, Madeleine.
“I met my wife Madeleine about 20 years ago playing football back at Nyora,” he said.
“She was riding trackwork down at Stony Creek and from there we got married and bought a retired horse.
“We ended up bringing it back into work, got it back to racing and it ended up winning at the Woolamai Picnic Races with a couple of local boys and Pakenham trainer Brian Rowe.
“We got the buzz and from then on in I’ve been involved with horses for about the last 20 years.”
While his involvement has been constant over that time, the wins – specifically Group 1 wins – have been far from consistent.
Back in 2007, Wilson came agonisingly close to a Group 1 win when Cancanelle came second in the Oaks at Morphettville in Adelaide.
“Cancanelle got to a Group 1 in Adelaide and ran second and we obviously thought that was the bee’s knees, how good is this?” Wilson said.
Little did he know it would be another 12 years before he finally snagged his first ever Group 1 win.
Wilson’s dream of winning a Group 1 race was realised when Kenedna, of which he is one of 10 owners, crossed the line first in the Coolmore Legacy Stakes at Royal Randwick in April.
It was a moment he will never forget as Kenedna, who had the long odds of 30-1, just overcame Dixie Blossoms.
“It was the same day as Winx retired, so for Winx to win and for us to win a race on that day – especially with a group of friends and my wife – I was never lucky enough to play in a footy grand final, but I tell you what, it was like winning gold, it was just an amazing feeling,” Wilson said.
While it took him about 20 years to claim his first Group 1 win, Wilson’s second came just five weeks later.
On 18 May, Kenedna claimed the 2019 Doomben Cup in Queensland.
“We thought going into that race she was spot on, but winning any Group 1 is hard – winning a race at Pakenham is hard enough!” Wilson said.
“Going into Doomben we were quite confident, but her odds kept going out, they were backing other horses and you start to sort of doubt of yourself, but in the run, she travelled brilliantly.
“John Allen – the Irish jockey who is flying at the moment – he just put her in a great spot and we were lucky enough to go back-to-back Group 1s.”
Being involved with a horse of Kenedna’s calibre has been a dream come true for Wilson.
“You’re just blessed and, to be honest, it’s all I think about,” he said with a laugh.
“I’ve got to do deal with work every day, but seriously, if it doesn’t cross your mind 10 times a day just thinking about how she’s going to go this week.
“Every day you’re just waiting to hear that she’s woken up well, she’s training well, because you basically just want to wrap her in cotton wool.
“She’s not the biggest horse going around, but she’s got a heart like Phar Lap – she’s just a ripper.”
It hasn’t always been easy for Kenedna, who came second at the Oaks in Morphettville in 2017, much like Cancanelle 10 years earlier.
“Kenedna actually lost the Group 1 Oaks, the same as Cancanelle, she ran second to a horse called Egg Tart,” he said.
“We were over there as favourites thinking we’re finally going to win the race and we got just got pipped by basically a pimple, it was so close – we thought we were never going to get a Group 1.”
Wilson’s passion for horse racing is obvious and he’s travelled the world watching some of the greatest horses ever.
“I was lucky enough to go to Royal Ascot [in England] to watch Black Caviar,” he said.
“We were on a tour and obviously everyone was there for the same reason.
“The Tuesday before the race, we went to a function and Peter Moody actually said to the owners that if we hadn’t have come halfway across the world, she wouldn’t be running on Saturday – she wasn’t right.
“But they took a chance and obviously she survived and got the win.”
Winning is something that Wilson has suddenly become accustomed to and with Kenedna racing on Saturday in the Group 2 O’Shea Stakes in Brisbane, he’ll be hoping to continue his 2019 winning ways.