It was payback time between Cambridge trainer Graeme Lord and former jumps jockey and trainer Stephen Gillies when D'Llaro raced away with the Paramount Hire Group Highweight at Gate Pa yesterday.
D'Llaro was ridden by Gillies' son, Matt, one of the country's leading jumps jockeys, who won the Great Northern double last season at Ellerslie aboard Southern Countess and Ima Heroine. "Stephen 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 Stephen, but I just can't remember what the other winner was. We've been mates for years."
D'Llaro is the first horse Matt Gillies has ridden for Lord and the win looked inevitable a long way from home.
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 by seven lengths, 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.