Lyon-hearted hoop guides Bianco Vilano to Country Championships final

Jason Lyon is interviewed after guiding the Ron Stubbs-trained Bianco Vilano in the $150,000 Southern Districts Racing Association (SDRA) qualifier.

Jason Lyon delivered for Albury trainer Ron Stubbs on his home track on Saturday, with a masterful ride helping Bianco Vilano to victory in the $150,000 Southern Districts Racing Association (SDRA) Country Championships qualifier.

Lyon found a spot five and six back and two off the rail in the 1400m event, but turning for home, there was a wall of horses in front of the pair. 

The heavens opened for a moment, and Lyon pounced, with Bianco Vilano ($9.50) powering to a strong 1.85 lengths victory from the Donna Scott-trained Our Last Cash (Simon Miller, $7), while in third and 2.17 lengths back was the Peter Morgan-trained Burrandana (Billy Owen, $10). 

Coincidently, it was Lyon’s first day back from suspension when he rode at Albury, and he was always confident he was on the right horse in the running. 

“I went into the race really confident, and I thought I’d ride the horse back a bit and he got up on the bridle at the 1000m, and I had to ease him back a bit and had to follow Kym Davison’s horse (Jack’s All Magic), and it was following Donna Scott’s horse (Our Last Cash),” Lyon said. 

“I was travelling coming into the corner, and well Our Last Cash pushed out Tap ‘N’ Run, and that allowed me to sneak up on the inside, and once I got the gap, I knew it was all over.” 

Stubbs started three in the qualifier, with Baledon (Will Price, $31) finishing fourth and Tap N’ Run (Josh Cartwright, $9) finishing sixth, and Lyon said he always wanted to be one Bianco Vilano, 

“I’ve sat on all three horses and Stubbsy asked me a few months ago, ‘have you got a ride’, and I said, ‘not yet’” Lyon said, 

“He indicated he would have three or four in, but I left that decision up to him and it worked out for me because I wanted to ride Bianco Vilano, as Nick Souquet had been riding him and he said to me he is the horse I wanted to be on.

“Once I sat on him and trialled him, I knew he was the one. He had no blinkers on that day, and he ran third and gave me a nice feel and just floated throughout the trial.”

Lyon worked the four-year-old Foxwedge gelding in the lead-up to Saturday’s victory, and he believes the galloper’s best is yet to come ahead of the $500,000 Country Championships final at Royal Randwick on April 1.

“I galloped him on the Tuesday, and he felt good, and he was feeling that good that he jumped half way across the road after the gallop,” Lyon laughed. 

“I worked him again on the Thursday, and he just towed me up the straight and I said to Stubbsy, ‘this horse is low-level flying’, and he came back, and he was playing around and feeling that good that he kicked out at a sign; he is still a big baby.

“He is just a big raw bugger. He’s not the full product yet. He is a big, gangly thing, and in the mounting yard, he was jumping around and even behind the start, he was neighing out near the rail.

“I’ve not had many horses neighing out behind the barriers before, and I don’t know if it is because he had a few mates in the race, but you could tell, he is just a big baby and he is still learning his craft and he had a lot of upside.”

Bianco Vilano will join Our Last Cash in the $500,000 Country Championships final at Royal Randwick on April 1, with both gallopers now $21 in the future markets.

Breakthrough win for Lyon

While all the talk on Saturday was around Bianco Vilano’s eye-catching win in the rich country-only qualifier, it was a special moment and breakthrough victory for Lyon. 

Born and raised in Whyalla in South Australia, Lyon had his first ride in Balaklava for prominent South Australian trainer Leon Macdonald in 1999.

After spending a decade in South Australia, Lyon was trackwork rider for Michael Moroney in Melbourne before a stint in Queensland, winning Group and Listed races on his way to 759 career victories.

A well-travelled hoop, Lyon has won races in every one of Australia’s state and territories except for the ACT, and along the way, he has endured his fair share of injuries, including a broken leg in 2018 before suffering a bulging disk, but he has been in Albury for just under 12 months and he is loving life and riding again.   

“I was just ready for a move, and it’s been great,” Lyon said. 

“I’ve ridden a few winners at the carnival. I won on Mnementh for Mitch Beer at Rosehill, but this is my biggest win so far, and it’s good, because I am getting support from local trainers.

“I ride a bit of track work over the border for Craig Widdison, and then at Wangaratta on a Friday for Ben Brisbourne and Craig Weeding, and things are ticking along good.”