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By Graham Potter | Wednesday, June 14, 2023

The relief was palpable.

Although a Maiden win is normally just the starting point in any racehorse’s success story, Landsborough Lad’s win in a Maiden Plate over 1200m at Doomben on June 14 felt like much more than that for the David Vandyke stable … in one sense, at least, it certainly had feeling of ‘mission accomplished.’

The reason?

Firstly, the fact that Landsborough Lad had been sidelined for two years (from April 2020 to April 2022) following an horrendous injury … his measured rehabilitation through his recovery process … and all of the care that gone into managing his return to the race track … were factors that all combined to give him special standing in the stable.

Secondly, prior to this win, Landsborough Lad had raced ten times for no less than seven runner-up finishes … twice finishing second three times in a row … and two third places.

Several times before it had been a case of oh so close … but no cigar … with Landsborough Lad finishing within a length of the winner in five of those runner-up finishes. He was also twice only beaten by the narrowest of margins.

It depended on which way you looked at it … as per the glass half full, half empty example.

Had Landsborough Lad been racing well enough to suggest that first career win was imminent, or, did his apparent ‘reluctance’ to win mean that the longer he went without saluting, the less likely he was to do so?

Thankfully the answer to that question was answered in the positive at Doomben, when Landsborough Lad, who started at $4.20 – the longest starting price he has had in his career, scored an end-to-end win to finally earn his visit to the winners’ enclosure.

Fitted with blinkers for the first time, Landsborough Lad was pushed into an immediate lead by Martin Harley. The Vandyke trained runner led by two lengths mid-race, an advantage he relentlessly extended to a little over four lengths in the sweep to the home turn.

On straightening, it became a question of whether Landsborough Lad had enough left to go on and complete the job … and this time Landsborough Lad was committed and brave.

He kicked on well in the first half of the straight, maintaining a healthy advantage until the 200m, which was enough to give him a winning cushion when the best of his rivals started charging at him late over the concluding stages.

In the end, Landsborough Lad’s four length mid-race advantage had been whittled down to just 0.75 lengths at the line (the $2.35 favourite Kai Tak finished second) … but that really was an irrelevant statistic.

Just as when you finish second, the margin doesn’t matter … it is the same when you win.

The only point that mattered is that, after a long haul, Landsborough Lad was a winner!

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Photos: Graham Potter
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