Lord celebrates after returning favour

It may have taken many years, but Cambridge trainer Graeme Lord finally got to return a favour to his old mate Stephen (“Gonzo”) Gillies at Tauranga today.

Gillies, a successful jumps jockey before turning his attention to training with good results, put Lord on a couple of winning rides when the latter was a top jumps hoop based at Awapuni.

Now all these years later Lord returned the favour via Gillies’ son, Matt, when he entrusted the talented young horseman with the ride on D’Llaro in the Paramount Hire Group Highweight. And the result was celebrations all round as D’Llaro cleared out to win by seven lengths.

“Gonzo put me on a couple of winners and now I’ve been able to pay him back by giving his son a winning ride,” said Lord. “I remember winning on Yorksmith for him, but I just can’t remember what the other winner was. We’ve been mates for years.”

Matt Gillies is one of the country’s leading jumps jockeys, as he showed last season when winning the Great Northern double at Ellerslie aboard Southern Countess and Ima Heroine, and D’Llaro is the first time he has ridden for Lord.

Gillies took D’Llaro straight to the front in the 2100-metre event and the horse was travelling well coming to the home turn, while all the rivals were under pressure. It was only Marvon Downs who made a spirited bid after D’Llaro in the run home, but Lord’s stable star drew ahead, while Marvon Downs held second easily by six and a half lengths from Tricky.

D’Llaro is raced by Lord, along with a couple of long-time friends, Cambridge farrier Kim Hughes and former jumps jockey and ex-Hawke’s Bay Racing Chief Executive Officer John McGifford.

He has now won four races for the group and two of those wins have been in his current campaign. He scored at Rotorua on June 25 when ridden by regular jockey Lynsey Satherley.

“He’s a dead-set wet tracker and the wetter the better for him,” said Lord. “This is the first time this winter he’s struck a Heavy 11 track. He just gets out there and keeps going when others get tired.”

Lord is likely to start D’Llaro next at the Counties meeting in a Rating 75 race and the horse will be reunited with Satherley.

“He could then go to the Pakuranga Hunt Club meeting,” said Lord. “We’ll try and go wherever the tracks are heaviest.”