In-form sprinter Illustrious Lad can provide the Peter Gelagotis stable with another feature race win when he lines up in the Group 3 $150,000 Kevin Heffernan Stakes (1300m) at Sandown on Saturday.
Illustrious Lad won his second race this campaign with regular rider Anthony Darmanin in the saddle when he beat Counterattack and Southern Legend in the Group 2 $300,000 tab Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on October 29.
“I thought the horse would go really well but I was just happy that he won for all the connections and Peter for giving me the opportunity again to ride him on a big day like Derby Day,” Darmanin told AAP.
That was Darmanin’s fourth win on the five year old and his second this preparation after the pair combined for a first up Spring Carnival win in the Listed $100,000 W H Wylie Handicap (1100m) at Morphettville on September 17.
Darmanin first combined with Illustrious Lad when they won a 1250m BenchMark 90 Handicap at Morphettville Parks on April 2 and is looking forward to adding another win to their partnership.
“He won really well that day and they took him to Adelaide another two times and I won on him there as well,” Darmanin said.
“Then he’s been to Caulfield and Flemington and he’s done really well.”
“I think he’ll love Sandown and hopefully I can just wait for the last crack at them and go past them at the right time.”
Illustrious Lad has been racing on the pace at his last two starts but Darmanin said that he hadn’t discussed Saturday’s tactics with Gelagotis after the gelding drew the outside barrier in the eleven horse Kevin Heffernan Stakes field.
“From a wide gate I’m not sure what Pete wants to do yet but hopefully we can get a nice run just in behind them and I don’t think the 1300 metres is an issue,” Darmanin said.
The Gelagotis stable capped off a good Melbourne Cup week and after winning with Illustrious Lad on Derby Day, new stable recruit Malaguerra was able to win the Group 1 $1m Darley Classic (1200m) on the final day of the four day Melbourne Cup Carnival at Flemington.
Illustrious Lad is well in contention in the market order for the Kevin Heffernan Stakes and is on the second line of betting at $4.40 with Ladbrokes.com.au.
Stradbroke Handicap winner Under The Louvre heads the market order at $3.90 with the Darren Weir trained Lucky Hussler form at $4.80 ahead of Lindsay Park’s Faatinah at $7 and the well supported Super Cash at $8.