Craig Williams guides Blandford Lad to victory at Flemington  Photo: Bruno Cannatelli

Blandford Lad back in the winner’s circle

NZ Racing Desk
19 March 2022

Six-year-old gelding Blandford Lad notched his sixth win from 37 career starts when coming from off the pace to land the Kennedy Grand Handicap Classic (2500m) at Flemington on Saturday.

The son of Savabeel was sent out a $31 chance after entering the race with some indifferent form but relished the genuine tempo with Craig Williams presenting Blandford Lad late in the piece to get over the top of Steel Skies and Through Irish Eyes.

Moe trainer Peter Gelagotis was not totally surprised to see the New Zealand-bred salute.

“On one side of the fence I’m very surprised, on the other side I’ve always thought that he had Saturday class ability. I’ve resorted to the fact that he’s just a wet-tracker,” Gelagotis said.

“He had a hurdle school last Friday because that’s where he’s going. His last four or five runs have been a bit below par and going through the motions, whether that has switched him on and he thought ‘I’m going to have a crack today’ and he’s shown what he can do when he does try.

“Congratulations to Craig (Williams). It was a great ride. He was patient and gave him his opportunity.

“When he loomed up at the 200 (metres), I thought ‘hello, he’s going to win this’ and I was yelling and cheering and he got up and won.

“Congratulations to the ownership group.”

November 2020 was the last time Blandford Lad had been in the winner’s circle and winning rider Craig Williams believed he had learned from two previous rides on the gelding, including an eighth placing over the course and distance in December.

“I did learn something about him that day and spoke to Pete about what I’d do differently. He’s a lovely horse to ride but does take a lot of riding. Onwards and upwards for that horse and he’ll get a lot of confidence out of today’s win,” Williams said.

“Credit to Peter Gelagotis, he’s an owner in the horse. He’s jumped him in between his last race and they’ve got no illusions about the horse’s ability, but today we saw him at his best.”

Among the ownership are breeders Graham and Helen-Gaye Bax of Blandford Lodge in Matamata, who retained equity in the full brother to star mare Lucia Valentina after he was passed in for $250,000 at Karaka as a yearling.

He has now amassed A$339,425 in prizemoney.

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