Lonhro's strapper after first city win

Grant Allard, the man who strapped 11-time Group One winner Lonhro, will be chasing his first city win as a trainer with Saddler Jack at Canterbury on Wednesday.

Saddler Jack will line up in Handicap (1550m) with 17-year-old apprentice Jake Hull to have his first-ever city ride.
The seven-year-old gelding, who has only been in Allard’s care for this preparation, was a runaway 7-1/2 length winner on Takeover Target Stakes day at Gosford last Wednesday in a 1600m Benchmark 65.

Hull took the initiative on Saddler Jack that day and let the gelding open up a huge lead – and the chasers never got near him.

Allard said he went into the Gosford race confident, but not to the extent that he expected a victory like he witnessed.

“I thought he could win, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t think in my wildest dreams he would win by seven and a half,” Allard said.

“But the horse was on his home track, he was fifth-up with two runs already under his belt over the mile and I’d never seen him look better.”

Allard said Saddler Jack had come out of the race in great order and connections decided on Wednesday’s Canterbury race in preference to a Benchmark 65 over 1600m at Wyong on Thursday.

The 33-year-old worked for seven and a half years with trainer John Hawkes at Crown Lodge where he strapped Lonhro throughout his illustrious career, and also Group One winner Viscount.

He took out his trainer’s licence in 2008 and said it would be “very special” if Saddler Jack could land him and Hull their first city win.

“(The Canterbury race) looked a suitable race, when they win like that last start and are in peak form you’ve got to strike while the iron is hot,” he said.

“I just wish he had drawn a fraction better (than barrier 11). That’s going to make it a touch difficult but the horse is 110 per cent.”

Hull is apprenticed to Allard who said the young rider was a big part of his team and deserved the chance to stick with Saddler Jack after being with him in all five starts this preparation.

“I’ve only had him this preparation but from day one since I’ve had him Jake has ridden him every day,” Allard said.

“He’s had five runs for me and Jake’s been aboard every time, he knows him really well and you could see that at Gosford last start. I would’ve been concerned the other day if it was any other rider on him.

“He’s had plenty of race rides now, he’s ridden about 17 winners and I’m happy to give him the chance.”