Trainer Peter Gelagotis has revealed that the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington on February 18th will figure as the Autumn Carnival launch pad for talented sprinter Illustrious Lad.
Illustrious Lad had his best campaign to date through the recent Spring Carnival; failing to finish worse than second through four black type starts and undoubtedly at his best when he delivered a smart field a near-two length defeat in the Group 2 Salinger Stakes (1200m) on the Flemington straight, on Derby Day.
Gelagotis has been thrilled with the benefit taken by the I Am Invincible gelding throughout his time away from the track and revealed that he will return in the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes 2017, with a view towards contesting the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) three weeks later.
“He’s coming along beautifully,” Gelagotis told Racing Ahead.
“He’s trialling next Monday in preparation for the Lightning Stakes at this point – that seems to be the way that we’ll go with him.
“Three weeks later he’ll go into the Newmarket and his preparation will be assessed from there, whether we move onto Sydney with him.”
Gelagotis saddled multiple Group 1 winner Malaguerra to a convincing first-up win in the Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) on Friday and believes that Illustrious Lad is capable of emulating the efforts of his stable mate this season.
“We have a couple of form analysts which do the form for us and they rate Illustrious Lad very highly,” he said.
“If you factor in the last Spring Carnival and what they both achieved, he profiles very similar to Malaguerra. Malaguerra has come back and gone up a notch and Illustrious Lad will have to do the same.
“It will be interesting to see what transpires in the next month with him.”
Illustrious Lad returned to racing for a smart win in the Listed WH Wylie Handicap (1100m) at Morphettville on September 17th and ran second to Keen Array in the Listed Caulfield Village Stakes (1200m) a fortnight prior to winning the Salinger Stakes.
Last seen finishing second to Lucky Hussler in the Group 3 Kevin Heffernan Stakes (1300m) on November 12th, Illustrious Lad is likely to contest a jump-out later this week ahead of his Lightning Stakes return.