Robbie Laing admits he didn’t know what to expect when he headed to Flemington with Lord Of The Sky.
Having his first start since running sixth on a wet track at Sandown in August, Lord Of The Sky came out victorious in the Group Three Standish Handicap (1200m) on Monday, giving Laing the perfect 59th birthday present.
Ridden by Damien Oliver, Lord Of The Sky ($16) scored by a nose from Flippant ($5) with Chamois Road ($6) 1-3/4 lengths away third.
It was Laing’s second success in the Standish which he won in 1990 with Strawberry Ranch.
Laing has always held Lord Of The Sky in the highest regard but tendon injuries in recent years have held him back.
“He went within an inch of beating Chautauqua in the TJ Smith and at his next start, drawing 18, beat all bar Flamberge in the Goodwood,” Laing said.
“It’s a bit of a mystery to me why a stud doesn’t pick him up.”
Laing was shopping Lord Of The Sky around as a stallion prospect last year but when a deal could not be completed the trainer put him back in work.
He thought his racing days were again over following his Sandown run, but extensive work on the treadmill at Monomeith Farm got the seven-year-old going again.
“I looked at him two months ago and thought I’d give him another try,” Laing said.
“Christine Reeve has been riding him through the sand dunes and the new hill at Cranbourne and we’ve been swimming him.
“It’s been a team effort.”
Laing only took up the option to run in Monday’s race when nominations were extended.
He was planning on the Kensington Stakes at Flemington on January 20, a race he still might contest, but after looking through the form decided to run on Monday.
“I was hoping he wouldn’t run last as I didn’t know what he was going to do,” Laing said.
“His trial two weeks ago was Lord Of The Sky of old where he ran blistering sectionals and won by eight under a tight hold, but pulled up and blew the house down.
“But with more work and the way he started to pull up after his gallops I was happy to have a crack.”