Lots to like about Lycurgus

Progressive three-year-old Lycurgus announced himself as a stayer on the rise with a dominant win in the Listed Galilee Series Final (2400m) at Caulfield on Saturday.

Connections look likely to now chase a VRC St Leger (2800m) victory with the son of Star Witness, who defied his pedigree to settle at the rear of the field before unleashing an explosive turn of foot when asked by jockey Daniel Moor at the top of the straight.

Trainer Danny O’Brien said Lycurgus had always displayed ability and praised stable apprentice Boris Thornton for his role in teaching the gelding to relax in his races as he stepped out over distance.

O’Brien confirmed the $200,00 St Leger at Flemington on 25 April was the likely target for the gelding, but said next month’s Group 1 South Australian Derby (2500m) was also on the radar.

“This preparation was the first time that we set our sights on making him stay and we’ve given him a solid grounding looking at races like this, the St Leger and Adelaide,” O’Brien said.

“Boris Thornton has done a lot of work on him down at Barwon Heads. He rides him every day and won on him two starts ago at Kyneton and got him to settle that day.

“That was the secret today, he was out the back doing no work, he was relaxed and he’s a horse that can really let go which he showed.

“Obviously the St Leger is right on our doorstep on Anzac Day at Flemington, so we’ll more than likely go that way.”

And while O’Brien is excited about the prospect of tackling the St Leger next start, he predicted the gelding was unlikely to measure up to some of the turf greats that feature on the honour roll of the time-honoured race.

Instead, he believes Lycurgus can continue to furnish into a stayer very much in the mould of stable veteran De Little Engine, who has collected more than $500,000 in prizemoney for connections across a 43-start career.

“At the end of the day it’s not the AJC Derby but we had De Little Engine run second in this a couple of years ago and he’s been a good solid stayer for us over a couple of seasons and that’s probably the profile of these sorts of horses,” he said.

“Off the back of today we’ve got plenty to look forward to with a horse that can let go like that at the end of a mile and a half.”

Jockey Moor said the gelding would continue to improve as he matured and settled in his races.

“He’s still got to switch off a bit better, there were a few times mid race where I thought he pulled a bit too hard but he might be right now,” Moor said.

Story by James Tzaferis, to view full Racing.com story click here

Pic by Racing Photos