Setback for Great Northern winner

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

Australian jockey Brad McLean and D’Llaro on the way to Great Northern Hurdle glory last year.

A minor injury is hindering the prospects of D’Llaro defending his Great Northern Hurdle crown.

All had been going well for D’Llaro until after the second of his two flat races when seventh at Pukekohe earlier this month.

“I was rapt in his first-up run (for fourth at Tauranga) and he went well at Pukekohe, but the following day he was a bit short in his action,” said trainer, part-owner and co-breeder Graeme Lord.

“A splint came up and I’ve had to back off him. A 10-year-old with a splint! It’s hard to believe.

“He had one ago five years ago and it was only minor. This one is in a different place below the knee.

“It’s put me behind the eight-ball. I had planned to run him in the Waikato Hurdles this weekend but that’s out.”

Twelve months ago Lord purposely bypassed the Waikato Hurdles with D’Llaro because he thought he wasn’t good enough.

“Then he went a good race at Hawera (for second) and went on to win the Kenny Browne Hurdle at Ellerslie,” said Lord. “Hopefully he’ll be right to run in the Kenny Browne again this year.

“I’ve just got to wait on him to tell me when he’s ready. It’s annoying because he’s ready. The great thing with him is that he doesn’t take much to keep him fit. He’s does it himself.”

Lord believes the splint may have been “brewing” before his Pukekohe run.

“He had a school in between the two flat races and he was unbelievable,” said Lord. “I couldn’t be happier with him. He just needs to get over the splint.”

After winning last year’s K S Browne Hurdle at Ellerslie, D’Llaro went on to win a highweight at Te Aroha two starts later and was a runner-up over hurdles twice on that same track before he led for much of the way to win the Great Northern Hurdle in the hands of visiting Australian jockey Brad McLean.