By Julieanne Horsman
Anyone just listening to the $200k TAB Anniversary Highway at Royal Randwick a fortnight ago would have been unaware Le Cavalier put in one of the best performances of the race. The only time he was mentioned in the call was when he was three-lengths last and that’s where he stayed until the final 300m. But under the guidance of Josh Parr he dug in up the straight, flying home to finish fourth just a length and a half off the winner, After All That.
“It was an enormous run,” trainer Norm Gardner said. “He drew barrier 15 and got a long way back so to see him finish where he did was a huge effort.”
The seven-year-old gelding is at his peak as he attempts to claim back-to-back Stan Sadleir Stakes at Wagga this Friday. He easily won the $35,000 country feature last year from Marquee and Chief In Command and Norm Gardner thinks he can do it again.
“He pulled up tremendously after the Highway and is going really well,” he said. “I’m happy with the draw (barrier 2) and Mathew (Cahill, jockey) should be able to settle him midfield. I’d like to see some speed up the front and he just needs a break at the right time. He doesn’t have a lot of early speed but he is a great finisher. My only concern is getting stuck and not be able to get a decent run.”
The winner of the Stan Sadleir Stakes will gain automatic entry into next week’s $70,000 Snake Gully Cup at Gundagai but even if Le Cavalier wins he won’t be going.
“It’s not a backmarker’s track, he wouldn’t get around it,” Gardner said. “If goes well on Friday he will head to a 1900m race at Canterbury then the 2000m Country Cup at Rosehill before being spelled.”
Norm Gardner bred Le Cavalier having trained his dam and her dam as well. In 51 starts he has won six times and placed a further 24, collecting $176,715 prizemoney.
“He’s an old marvel,” Gardner said. “Every prep he comes up and goes around. He doesn’t like going to the paddock so we only tip him out for two weeks or so. He’s just tremendous.”
Friday’s Wagga meeting is part of the Country Showcase Program where every race is worth a minimum of $30,000. The $35,000 feature honours Stan Sadleir who was a Murrumbidgee Turf Club Committeeman for 24 years. He received an Order of Australia for his work in racing and with war veterans and was also a talented cricketer who played against Sir Donald Bradman in the 1930s. He passed away in 2010.