The excitement continues for Peter Gelagotis with the Victorian trainer still on a high from having a runner at the Dubai World Cup meeting ahead of his bid for a Derby win in Sydney.
The Gelagotis-trained Illustrious Lad finished fifth, the best of three Australian-trained runners in the Al Quoz Sprint on Saturday after the entourage watched Levendi stake his 2018 Australian Derby claims with victory in the Group Two Tulloch Stakes.
Gelagotis is now in Sydney for the build-up to Saturday’s 2400m-Classic in which Levendi will start from barrier three as one of the leading chances.
The trainer has had two runners in the race before, Big Col who ran 11th in 2009 and Hvasstan, sixth in 2013.
“The opportunities to run in these races are few and far between with our numbers,” Gelagotis said.
“Ten years ago I’d be going to the races and watching Group One races and now we are at the coal face.
“There’s a lot of trainers out there who don’t get that opportunity so I reflect on those opportunities and persevere.”
Levendi is by Pierro whose sire line goes back to grand producer of stayers Zabeel while his dam Lipari is out of Tully Thunder, winner of the Australasian Oaks in 2002 and a close second to subsequent Melbourne Cup runner-up She’s Archie in the South Australian Oaks.
“His bloodlines suggest he can run the distance,” Gelagotis said.
“”In his earlier runs he’s shown a good turn of foot over short distances and I think all those things combined equate to a good horse that can sustain an 800 metre gallop under pressure.
“He won a race as a two-year-old which is a bonus.”
Last year’s Tulloch Stakes winner, Jon Snow, went on to win the Derby for New Zealand trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman who have four runners this year, Vin De Dance, Weather With You, Mission Hill and Mongolian Marshal.
Vin De Dance won the NZ Derby in which Mission Hill was sixth while Weather With You and Mongolian Marshal were third and fourth respectively in the Tulloch Stakes.