By Tony Megahey
A rare Sydney trip for prolific country premiership jockey Greg Ryan, and a track record Dubbo barrier trial, is the strongest push possible for exciting prospect Larlabrook into a TAB $60,000 Highway (1000m) Handicap at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Larlabrook, trained by young Clint Lundholm, from the renowned western racing family, resumed from a spell, and early impressive wins at Tamworth and Dubbo in fast time, with a spectacular home track trial. Clint, a 200 plus race winning apprentice for his father John, and late great grandfather John Lundholm senior, waited in high anticipation as Larlabrook’s owners decided between a $30,000 race on Sunday’s prestigious Dubbo Gold Cup day, or the Highway, on an occasion that also offered maybe a once in a life-time opportunity to witness Winx race live.
“We’d also nommed for the big race day back home, and it was about what best suited his owners and the horse, but this big fella came back flying in a trial so we’re coming down for a crack,” Clint enthused.
“Look, the trial on his home track is a lot different to a full field and the level at Randwick but Greg has an opinion of him and reckons the time is right.
“There’s some big races and prize-money coming up so who knows how far they can go with what this gelding has produced so far.
“He’s a big lump of a unit with natural speed and the trial made up our minds.” Ryan rides Larlabrook at 57kg but from a precarious barrier 11 draw for the short course flyer.
Larlabrook, a stable-mate of Clint’s regional championship contender Dreadlock, resumed from a six-month spell and “spaced” five- time regional race winner Somebody, and three-time winner Jar of Hearts in a Dubbo 1020m open trial on August 28 in a record time 56.07.
“We gave him a long time off after he cast himself in the box and we weren’t happy he was 100 per cent again for confidence,” Lundholm said. “But the trial showed how far he’s progressed off those low grade wins. He put “six” on a couple of smart bush horses and the time was there.”
The multitudes of country trainers are into intensive campaigning to develop contenders for the massive $200,000 Anniversary Highway at Randwick over the Sydney Spring Carnival. Multiple Highway winners Matthew Dale with Surprise Party, and Danny Williams with She Knows have typically strong contenders for the 1000m flyer. Terry Evan’s Oakfield Time with Hugh Bowman will likely start favourite.
Meanwhile Clint, who took out his training licence in 2012 and won his home town’s features, the 2016 Dubbo City Toyota Gold Cup and Prelude, with Any Blinkin Day, has a similar sense of humour and perspective as his father and late grandfather.
“I’ve already had some that could beat them all home, and others that couldn’t beat any home,” Clint quipped. “But this big fella has us excited.”