“Cash Card” put away ‘til next winter

Australian jockey Brad McLean and Graeme Lord's star, D'Llaro, on the way to Great Northern glory today.

Graeme Lord’s star, D’Llaro, and Brad McLean jumping their way to Great Northern Hurdles glory at Ellerslie last Saturday.

Graeme Lord got his biggest payout from his “cash card” last Saturday and now he’s not going to use it again until next winter.

The “cash card” is D’Llaro, who left a smart field of hurdlers in his wake as he raced away to a three and a quarter-length win in the $125,000 Schweppes Great Northern Hurdles at Ellerslie.

In winning with D’Llaro, Lord created his own slice of racing history. It’s hard to find another person in the record books who can lay claim to having enjoyed success as a rider, trainer, owner and breeder in the Great Northern Hurdles.

“He’s the only horse I’ve got in work,” said the Cambridge trainer who won successive Great Northern Hurdles as the rider of Vincere (1987-88). “He’s my cash card. He’s made it a lot easier for me.

Graeme Lord etched his name in Great Northern Hurdles history

Graeme Lord etched his name in Great Northern Hurdles history

“He’s won over $210,000 now and there’s no reason he can’t come back next winter and win more. He could have a go at the Northern again next year.”

D’Llaro gave a fine display when leading for most of the 4190-metre journey in the hands of visiting Australian jockey Brad McLean.

“He only made a couple of mistakes — at the one down the back, about the fifth fence, then at the one at the top of the straight. Apart from that he jumped beautifully,” said Lord.

“He nicked himself at the back of the tendon area and had to have a couple of stitches, but it was nothing serious.

“He’s out for a well-earned rest now. He’s done his job and he’ll be back next year.”

Lord heaped credit on the riding performance of McLean, who followed instructions to the letter.

“I told him don’t fight him, just get him into his rhythm and he’ll be all right,” said Lord. “Matt Gillies had a talk to Brad about him, too. Matt rode him perfectly when he won the Kenny Browne Hurdles and Brad did the same in the Northern.

“I knew he’d go well and when I saw Brad still sitting on him coming to the turn I knew he’d be hard to catch.”

Lord first met McLean at last month’s Grand National meeting, Lord attending the Jumps Jockeys Reunion and McLean on hand to ride Bunkered in the Grand National Steeplechase for John Wheeler.

“If Wheels hadn’t bought him (McLean) over for Bunkered I’d never have got him for D’Llaro,” said Lord. “It was fate.

“When Matt (Gillies) was committed to Shamahl (8th) I had to find a new rider and that’s when I got Brad. I’d talked to him about D’Llaro at Riccarton and he’d watched the videos of his last couple of races so he knew about him, too.”

Part-owner Kim Hughes and D'Llaro after the Great Northern Hurdles triumph.

Part-owner Kim Hughes and D’Llaro after the Great Northern Hurdles triumph.

Lord feels sorry for Gillies missing out on the winning ride, especially as he was the one who started the Great Northern Hurdles ball rolling with D’Llaro.

“Matt rode him for me at Te Rapa (last May when sixth) and he got off and said he’d love to ride him in a ‘chase – he’d go all day,” recalled Lord. “I told him he’s not going ‘chasing yet so why not go for the Northern. The distance is like a steeplechase race.

“Right from that day onwards I set him for the Northern. It’s great when a plan comes good.”

Making the occasion even more memorable for Lord was the fact his brother, Murray (a former successful jockey), was over from the Gold Coast and was on course to cheer D’Llaro on to victory.

“Murray came over last week to see Mum (in Palmerston North) and at Ellerslie he got to catch up with Steve Pateman and Richard Cully who he knew from being in Aussie,” said Lord. “He got a thrill out of the win and so did Mum.”

Lord races D’Llaro with the estate of his late father, Ivan, and two of his friends, respected Cambridge farrier Kim Hughes and another former jumps jockey, John McGifford.

“It was a big day for all of us,” said Lord. “The video of his win got played a lot on Saturday night at home with us all there.”

Lord bred D’Llaro by D’Cash from the Random Chance mare Random Quest, who won two sprint races for Roger Lang, the first in November 1995 at Te Rapa with Jock Caddigan aboard and the other three starts later at Hastings with Noel Harris in the saddle.

Lord acquired Random Quest when he bought Lang’s property and bred six foals from her with five getting to the races for total earnings of $466,308.

Nufsed, Random Quest’s first foal, won eight races and $92,945, while the second foal, Verago, won four races (including one in Hong Kong) and over $162,113 in prizemoney. D’Llaro has now headed Verago off as Random Quest’s biggest stakes-earner with $211,250, while Exotic, Random Quest’s last foal, has just five starts for two fifths.

“When I got Random Quest nobody else wanted her,” said Lord. “Old Random Quest has been great to me. Like they say, never look a gift horse in the mouth.”