By Tony Megahey
Western Districts rising star Larlabrook returns to Royal Randwick on Saturday an even more formidable sprinter, according to young trainer Clint Lundholm and the finest country ally possible in Greg Ryan.
Larlabrook ($5 on TAB fixed odds) resumes from a let-up in the $60,000 TAB Highway Handicap (1100m) and is weighted to win again, after leading all the way for the champion regional rider in a TAB Highway at headquarters on September 16.
“Greg gives me a hand regularly and always rides him; he said he’s progressed super, but between us, we decided the best option was to claim off the 59 kilos,” explained Lundholm. “He’s only had the four starts and already was getting 61 kilos in open company up here.
"But aside, Greg would have been coming all the way down for one ride when he’ll have a full book and plenty of winning chances at Narromine on Saturday. So we decided to book young Blaike McDougall, who gets the maximum 3 kilos off and it brings him in really well.
“Greg has ridden him all career but Blaike is a nice confident kid riding well and we're happy to have him on.”
Larlabrook carried 57kg winning in a desperately close photo at Randwick when Ryan thought he’d been beaten by Danny Williams's She Knows ($5 into $4.60), an opponent again on Saturday. However, the concern for Clint and young Blaike is barrier 11 in a capacity field.
And the presence of dual runners from the multiple series-winning stable of Goulburn’s Danny Williams that won last week’s TAB Anniversary Consolation with hot prospect Don’t Give a Damn.
“Yep sure is, but we just haven’t had any luck with the barriers since he started racing. He drew the outside down there last time and the only time he was beaten at Tamworth was the widest gate.
“But that’s racing; we’ll work out a plan with Blaike when I get a chance to look into the form and the speed map. But these races are always tough to win wherever you draw.”
Lundholm is hoping that Larlabrook will eventually “get” the 1400m of the Dubbo leg of the Country Championships in 2018.
“The plan is to try and stretch him out to 1400m for that big race. He hasn’t been past 1100m so it a case of race by race as he matures, and he’ll eventually let us know.” Favourite is the impressive Muswellbrook debut winner for the Paul Messara stable, Rekindled Force ($5 into $3.40).