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Illustrious Lad chasing another Group win

Anthony Darmanin heads to Sandown hoping to build on his near-perfect record aboard the Peter Gelagotis-trained Illustrious Lad who has already given the jockey the biggest win of his career.

“I’ve ridden him five times for four wins and a second. And the second should have been a win as well,” Darmanin said.

His only defeat on the sprinter who runs in Saturday’s Kevin Heffernan Stakes, was two starts ago at Caulfield when he finished two lengths from Keen Array when hampered by a riderless horse.

Illustrious Lad won a Group Two sprint at Flemington last start and heads to Saturday’s weight-for-age race over 1300m as one of the leading chances.

Darmanin said Gelagotis had long been a supporter of his and he first got the chance to ride Illustrious Lad in Adelaide in April.

“He won really well that day and they took him to Adelaide another two times and I won on him there as well,” he said.

“Then he’s been to Caulfield and Flemington and he’s done really well.”

Darmanin has been a trackwork rider for Melbourne Cup winning-owner Lloyd Williams for six years, while he does the bulk of his race riding in Tasmania.

His win on Illustrious Lad last Saturday week was his first at Group Two level.

“I thought the horse would go really well but I was just happy that he won for all the connections and Peter for giving me the opportunity again to ride him on a big day like Derby Day,” he said.

Saturday’s field includes Group One winners Under The Louvre, Lucky Hussler and Famous Seamus but Darmanin is hopeful in-form Illustrious Lad can take the step to weight-for-age.

“From a wide gate I’m not sure what Pete wants to do yet but hopefully we can get a nice run just in behind them and I don’t think the 1300 metres is an issue,” he said.

“I think he’ll love Sandown and hopefully I can just wait for the last crack at them and go past them at the right time.”

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