Trainer Peter Gelagotis hopes to make international headlines later this month when his six-year-old gelding Illustrious Lad races in the Al Quoz Sprint over 1200 metres – a $1.3 million race in Dubai.
The Moe-based group one trainer was invited to enter the thoroughbred in the all expenses paid trip earlier this year after personal circumstances prevented the colourful local racing identity from entering in last year’s race.
With some of the best sprinters from across the globe to feature in the group one race on Meydan Racecourse, Dubai, Geleagotis said it was his job to get Illustrious Lad over to the UAE in one piece and to compete at his best.
It could be the third group one win for the Gelagotis stables after taking out the 2015 Underwood Stakes at Caulfield with Mourinho and the Darley Classic at Flemington on Emirates Stakes Day a year later with Malaguerra.
Most notably, Illustrious Lad is known as a black type, group two winner, having won a handful of stakes races with several listed wins, his best performance on Derby Day at Flemington where he won the TAB Stakes in 2016.
“It’s a big thrill for the stables to be able to represent your country and also your local community,” Gelagotis, whose father moved to Moe in 1977 as a horse trainer and owner, said.
“It’s not something that happens every day of the week and these opportunities don’t come often.
“If he runs and he gets his right opportunity I truly believe he is a horse that could figure on his best performance.”
Purchased as a yearling by the syndicate and managed by Anthony Panozzo, Gelagotis said it would be the horse’s first time in the air – and racing on the international stage.
“He’ll get flown over on a cargo plane, it’s a 14-hour trip,” Gelagotis said.
“He’s used to travelling interstate so the air travel is pretty cruisey and I think he’ll be fine.”
Victorian Anthony Darmain, who is one of Lloyd Williams’ main track riders, will ride Illustrious Lad in the March 31 race.
The race will feature thoroughbreds from all parts of the globe including America, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia, and a number of UAE-trained horses as well.
“The club itself just wants representatives from different countries to make it a world race,” Gelagotis said.
“It’s a wish of the ownership group and I suppose it’s my job to get him over of there in one piece and get him to compete as well as he can.”
“His best wins have been when he settles in his races and given his ride opportunity, he loves plenty of galloping room and has a very powerful finish and that’s what we hope he’ll do.”
There are two other Australian-based horses racing in the Al Quoz Sprint, including Sydney-trained Music Magnate and David Hayes-trained Faatinah.