McNeil masterclass sees Lad salute

The skill of Melbourne Cup winning jockey Jye McNeil was on display in a staying race once again when partnering the Blandford Lad (NZ) (Savabeel) to victory in the Global Turf BM78 Handicap (2600m) at the Ballarat stand-alone meeting on Saturday.

After racing back in the field for much of the contest, McNeil opted to make a move with 600m left to run, blending in nicely to the turn before kicking for home on the enigmatic five-year-old.

The son of Savabeel staved off Reflect The Stars (Starspangledbanner) and Red Alto (High Chaparral) to notch his fifth win from 23 starts for trainer Peter Gelagotis.

“I really liked his run at Geelong last start. It had a lot of merit, he didn’t have a lot of luck to get that clear galloping room. He showed today, with clear galloping room, how he can really find the line and stay,” Gelagotis said.

“I’ve had a nice opinion of this bloke but he’s always thrown me curveballs. But, you know what, he’s a deserved victor and I’ve always believed in him.

“Big congratulations to Jye. It was a super ride and he’s such a pleasant person to have on your team and he’s out there always punching hard and doing his best for the Gelagotis team. I won’t hide the fact that I love the guy, like he’s my own son.

“Congratulations to the ownership group and we’ve won a Saturday race with him finally.”

Among the ownership are breeders Graham and Helen-Gaye Bax of Blandford Lodge in Matamata, who retained equity in the full brother to star mare Lucia Valentina (NZ) after he was passed in for $250,000 at Karaka as a yearling.

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