By Brad Gray
At Royal Randwick
If races were won on passion, the Gelagotis team would be premiership leaders. The Moe-based stable have it in spades and it was on full display at Royal Randwick after Levendi got the bob over Ace High in the G1 $2m Harrolds Australian Derby (2400m).
If that wasn’t enough drama, there was a protest owing to alleged interference over the final 100m.
Ace High was in front a stride before the line and after the line but Levendi stuck his head out when it counted to take out one of the most prestigious classics on the Australian racing calendar. That certainly wasn’t lost on his trainer Peter Gelagotis.
— The Championships (@ChampionshipsRR) April 7, 2018
“We’re very united stable. We are very tight knit and passionate about our sport. To be here on Championships Day in one of the feature races on the card and come away with the spoils we are going to enjoy it and savour the moment for many years to come,” he said.
“It’s very rewarding to be able to come away with another Group One. That’s the pinnacle of our sport and we all aspire to achieve that.”
Levendi, who matched the deeds of last year’s Australian Derby winner Jon Snow in collecting the Tulloch- Derby double, borrows his name from the Greek language.
“His name is so fitting. It relates to a strapping young lad or handsome gentleman. What a superstar. He’s an amazing animal,” Gelagotis gushed.
“He was travelling well, we got a bit concerned when he peeled out he moved into the race real, real good. He was really strong at the top of the run and you could see he was going to let down and be in the finish.
“Credit to Ace High he fought on strong, it was a great battle and fortunately enough for us we got the job done.”
Levendi and Ace High fighting it out
It was a “battle royale” between Levendi and Ace High as the duo paired off to fight it out and Mark Zahra admitted he had no idea if he’d won or not on the line.
“It is the moment of truth when you pull up and it’s going to be the most disheartening feeling ever or sheer joy and we didn’t know,” said Zahra.
“I was just waiting and waiting and I couldn’t get in front of him but gee he has a big heart even last week he looms up and was strong late. I could feel when we both quickened there was no one else around it was a battle royale and the Gelagotis boys will be going mad I reckon.”
Angland and David Payne lodged a protest given the tight margin but stewards didn’t take long to dismiss it.
“Very brave,” Angland said of Ace High’s effort, “Had a beautiful run through the race, rolled into at the right time, the horse behind us followed us through and got us on the line.”