Jethro ready for the Aussies

Royce Dowling enjoyed his share of success across the Tasman as a trainer and now his daughter, Linda Laing, is about to attack the tough Sydney scene.

Laing and her stable star, Veyron (affectionately known as Jethro), flew to Sydney last night and Veyron’s regular rider, Rogan Norvall, is set to join them today.

Laing has had experience of Australian trips, but all previous ones have been when training in partnership with her father. She went into partnership soon after her father produced Veyron’s grand-dam Limitless to win the 1981 Group I Brisbane Cup.

Over the years Laing and Dowling enjoyed major race success with New Zealand Cup winners Mercator (third in the 1993 Melbourne Cup), Double Take (Bendigo and Werribee Cups) and Soldier Blue (CJC Gold Cup). Soldier Blue was raced by Veyron’s owners, Alistaire and Isabel Barker, as was close relative Overkaast, who was runner-up in the NZ Oaks and Avondale Cup and third in the Zabeel Classic for Dowling and Laing.

With five Group One wins under his belt, Veyron now gets his opportunity to show the Australians his quality. First-up will be a bid on the Group I $A400,000 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on Saturday then, all going well, he’ll head to the Group I $A2 million Doncaster Handicap (1600m) at Randwick on April 20.

The trip will also be a memorable one for Norvall, who will be in the cauldron of Sydney racing for the first time.

Laing is pleased to have Norvall continue his association with Veyron. “I left the decision completely up to Isobel and Alistaire and I’m glad they’ve decided to take Rogey,” said Laing. “He knows the horse so well and he’ll be out there doing his best for us.”

Veyron goes into the George Ryder Stakes with a last-start second to Ocean Park in the Group I Lindauer NZ Stakes at Ellerslie on March 9 and Laing says he has thrived since the race.

“He’s put a heap of weight on even though he’s been doing the work,” said Laing on the eve of their departure. “I put him on the scales the other day and he was 544 kilos. Last year he was 518 when he won the Waikato Draught Sprint and he was 528 when he won the Zabeel Classic (last Boxing Day). Mind you he is a bit bigger and stronger now.”

Veyron got galloped on badly when second to Nashville in the Haunui Farm Group One WFA Classic two starts ago and has had a fibreglass cast tacked to the foot to help the shoe stay on.

“We’ve taken the fibreglass off the foot and he’s grown a heap of foot,” said Laing. “The shoe can stay on itself now.”
Veyron will be based at Bjorn Baker’s Warwick Farm stables during his Sydney campaign.