Laing and Veyron reign supreme

Just as her father did so many times in Australia, Linda Laing made the Australians sit up and take notice big time when she pulled off a great training feat to win the Gr.2 Pro-Ride Warwick Stakes at Warwick Farm today with her pride and joy Veyron.

Laing’s father, Royce Dowling, became well-known to the Australians following several success raids on Australian riches over the years, including a Brisbane Cup win with Veyron’s grandam, Limitless, and a third in the Melbourne Cup with Mercator.

Laing trained in partnership with her father until he retired and now she is getting the accolades she thoroughly deserves. Her patient handling and astute placing of Veyron has resulted in the son of Thorn Park winning half his 30 starts, including five Group One events.

Though today’s event wasn’t a Group One, it was still an unforgettable thrill for Laing to break through for Group Two success in Australia. And she couldn’t resist the temptation to have a dig at the Aussies under-rating Veyron when interviewed by media personality Richie Callendar, who was clearly shocked by the win and asked if she was surprised.

“I thought he was a certainty,” she fired back at Callendar. “Last preparation he had a blood blister under his foot and you didn’t see the best of him.”

Laing was referring to an aborted Sydney autum campaign, which saw Veyron only have one start in Sydney, in the Gr.1 George Ryder Stakes at Rosehill on April 6. He produced a big effort for a handy eighth, less than two lengths from Sydney pin-up three-year-old Pierro, but the Aussie media refused to accept what a good horse he is.

Veyron came up against a star-studded field today, including several superstars resuming, and he hardly got a mention in the pre-race amble. It was all Rain Affair, Streama, Beaten Up and company, but in the end they all had to play second string to the horse affectionately known as Jethro.

Ridden for the first time by Christian Reith, Veyron soon worked into fourth on the fence as Rain Affair flew the gates and charged straight to a clear lead. And entering the final 300 metres the commentator was concentrating on Rain Affair and the challenge coming from Streama, but it was Veyron, switched to the outside, who soon emerged as the big threat.

Sure Rain Affair and Streama fought back strongly, particularly the latter, but no horse was going to hold out Veyron and the big chestnut lunged hard to grab the honours in a desperate finish with Streama. Rain Affair lost no admirers with his third and Beaten Up was a solid fourth.

Typical of the Aussie media, the talk was soon on the eyecatching runs of the minor placegetters overshadowing the victory of the Kiwi. Sure there will be improvers from the Aussie horses, but notice should be taken of the comments of Reith, who was standing in for Rogan Norvall.

“He was a bit out of his comfort zone early, but he’s a tough, seasoned horse and he kept going,” said Reith of Veyron. “He dug deep and did get a bit tired the last bit. He’ll improve with that.”

Veyron couldn’t exactly be called a seasoned horse, having raced only once since last April, and there is no doubt there is improvement in the topliner.

Laing had purposely used an open sprint at Ruakaka last month as a lead-up for Veyron’s latest campaign, despite the horse having to carry a massive 64.5kg. Veyron finished fifth in the 1400-metre event and Laing topped him off for the trip with exhibition gallops, the latest being at Te Rapa last Saturday.

Anyone watching Veyron galloped between races at Te Aroha then Te Rapa should have realised Laing had the big boy poised to give the Aussie galloper a shake. And there’s more shaking to come.

Veyron will start next in the Gr.2 $A175,000 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on September 7 then return to the same track for the Gr.1 $A350,000 George Main Stakes (1600m) a fortnight later. Norvall, who wasn’t able to take today’s ride because of a visa hold-up, will be back in the saddle for both races.