Southern Lad breaks drought in Ramornie

Southern Lad and Christian Reith after the pair greeted the judge first in the 2021 Ramornie Handicap. Photo: Trackside Photography.

Prior to Wednesday, the John O’Shea trained Southern Lad hadn’t won a race since January 11, 2020 – or for 542 days. 

In that time, the ultra-consistent galloper had finished in the money in multiple Group and Listed events and was always seemingly knocking on the door for a big victory.

That all changed for the six-year-old at Clarence River Jockey Club on Wednesday when winning the time-honoured Ramornie Handicap. 

It took a gem of a ride by Christian Reith, with the pair letting down nicely on the home straight and running over Phobetor (Michael Costa and Jag Guthmann-Chester) in second, while Fender (Brett Cavanough and Ben Looker) was a further two lengths away in third in the 1200m event worth a tidy $200,000.

O’Shea praised Reith for the ‘perfect’ ride, and he explained his galloper was always going to put in a big run based on his most recent work.

“He needs that kind of ride, and it was perfect,” O’Shea said.

“The Mark Newnham horse (Blazing Miss) wasn’t taking him anywhere, so it was really good to get a gun run like that.

“We were keen to stay one-off, so we weren’t dictated to and when he got a bit of clear air, he was going to be hard to hold out because his work on Saturday was first class.”

The Sydney trainer was tickled pink to see his galloper breakthrough for career win six at start 32, and he admitted at the 800m, he was confident of finishing off strongly and getting the win.

“With that other horse being three-deep I was hoping it would tell late and it did,” he said.

“Southern Lad deserved that win. He’d had a few stakes placings and has run just behind horses like Masked Crusader and Classique Legend.”

Wednesday was another big day for the Grafton club, with the Ramornie Handicap only headlining a top-notch day of country racing. 

In the $80,000 Grafton Guineas, Gold Coast trainer Les Kelly combined with Ben Thompson as Tamilaide won the 1600m event for the three-year-old.

The Adelaide gelding that is out of Tamieka started a well-tried $3 favourite and woin accordingly, proving too good for Too Good To Be Tru (Damien lane and Andrew Gibbons) and Oakfield Arrow (Kristen Buchanan and Alysha Collett).