TAB Melbourne Cup winning trainer David Geall has a trio of chances in his bid for his 100th career win at Sandown Park on Thursday night.
Geall began training in 1995 but it wasn’t until January 1999 when Maldon Man broke his maiden that he chalked up his first winner at Sandown Park. Last Sunday afternoon, Hill Top Jack brought up win number 99.
“I didn’t think it was that many,” he said after being informed of the impending milestone.
“That’s alright for a small team. For half of those years we’ve only had a dozen race dogs, the other half I was working at Ford so we only would have had two or three dogs.”
A win on Thursday night would continue a remarkable resurgence for his Lara kennel. Led by stars Up Hill Jill and My Redeemer in 2018, David Geall racked up 134 winners for the year including 23 city races. However, despite maintaining his outstanding strike rate (28.5% compared to 26.8%), 2020 yielded just 70 winners just one of which were at city level.
In fact, Geall went 18 months with just one city win.
“A lot of them just didn’t run 500m,” he explained.
“A lot of them were pretty nippy but they had to run in the country. We didn’t deliberately shy away (from the city) – we just had a lot of nice, quick dogs that could only run 400m.
“And because we breed a high percentage of our racing kennel, if a litter doesn’t come up and run in the city, it can leave a bit of a hole. But we’re better prepared for that now, so hopefully that doesn’t happen again.”
It’s been a different story in 2021. Less than four months into the new year, Geall has already led home 57 winners – including 15 in April alone – including eight in town.
Leading the resurgence is Ferdinand Boy. A winner of his last six starts including both the Shepparton and Ballarat Cups, Ferdinand Boy is yet to race over 500m but did have his first look at Sandown Park last Saturday, trialling 29.53 and carving out slick splits of 4.99 and 18.66.
“I was happy with his trial. He got a little lost through the first turn – he’s only raced on one bend tracks so I think the first turn came up on him a little quick. He got a little tired towards the end and he had a good drink after the trial but he’s jumping out of his skin now.
“I thought I’d give him a hit out over 500m and see how he went – he needs to be racing in town. We’ll probably go for the Warrnambool Cup and then set him for the Harrison-Dawson in May.”
Geall’s thoughts on Thursday night’s runners:
Race 2 – Bounce Back: “It’s maybe a one off (stepping up to 715m). We’ve always wanted to see what he can do on the lure. He’s been hitting the line a bit harder over 600m than he used to, so we’ll see. (Aston Ulysses) He goes good, but if we get out in front of him and I think we will, who knows. He’s got box 1 and he loves the fence.”
Race 3 – Hill Top Jack: “He’s drawn the squeeze, but if can get out quick – and he can do on occasion – he can run a good race. He got in a bit of strife on Sunday but he wasn’t far away (from leading).
Race 9 – Koblenz: “He’s our best chance. Very similar dog to Ferdinand Boy, just a matter of him stepping out. He’s usually reliable, I was surprised he missed it at Sandown last week. He mistimed it and when he landed he was all awkward. I’ve never seen him do that – he might have been a bit too fired up – but I expect him to bounce back.”
*After his winning double at Horsham on Tuesday night, Geall now has 980 career winners.
WATCH: David Geall’s 83rd Sandown winner was one to remember – the TAB Melbourne Cup with My Redeemer. David now stands ‘Boris’ at stud and his progeny are starting to make their own mark on the track
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