That’s our lad


Moe horse trainer Peter Gelagotis has had his first taste of Derby Day success after Illustrious Lad won the 1200 metre Group 2 Stakes at Flemington on Saturday.

The five year-old bay gelding, ridden by Anthony Darmanin, paid $14 for the win after defeating second-placed Counterattack by 1.25 lengths to take the $300,000 prize money.

The win means Illustrious Lad has finished first or second in each of its previous five starts.

Gelagotis said the victory represented a career highlight.

“They’re personal goals that you aspire to achieve and given the opposition it’s great to be able to walk away and say that you’ve done it,” he said.

“You need the horse to take you there (to victory) and we’re fortunate that Illustrious Lad has that ability to be presented in those races.

“We were quietly confident that the horse had the ability to be a contender and we based that on his previous run.”

Gelagotis is now considering where Illustrious Lad will race next, but he is not without options.

“There’s a race like the Winterbottom (Stakes) in Perth that could be a target, there’s a Group 3 race in a fortnight’s time that’s weight for age over 1300 (metres) at Sandown,” he said.

“They’re slightly less prize money than yesterday, but weight for age makes it appealing.

“He’s never raced at weight for age before.”

He attributed the win to Illustrious Lad’s mental toughness.

“It’s a testament to his mental fortitude; there’s an amazingly strong will to achieve,” Gelagotis said.

“He doesn’t know how to not try – it’s a great trait to have in anyone, whether it’s a human or animal.”

Gelagotis will return to Flemington on Saturday when another of his horses, Malaguerra, competes in the million dollar Darley Classic.

“Excluding the three year olds, we’ve got two of the upper-echelon sprinters in Australia in Malaguerra and Illustrious Lad who’s climbing the ladder at a rate of knots,” he said.

“It’s exciting times for anybody who has the opportunity to work with this calibre of horse.

“They’re few and far between and they possess an amazing will to achieve and win and it’s great to be part of it.”