Our Lukas an elite achiever
STANDING in stall 64 at Ipswich racetrack 70 minutes after the Cup on Saturday, Our Lukas looks anything but a history-maker.
In fact he looks like a bored teenager who just wants to go home after a big day out.
It was a big day out for Our Lukas who, ridden by Stathi Katsidis, became the first horse to win the Ipswich Cup twice.
Starting $3.40 favourite, Our Lukas won the Channel 7 Ipswich Cup (2150m) by a nose from Frozone ($11) with Warrior Within ($41) a length away third.
He’s not the only one itching to go home after the Cup.
His strapper Paul Green and track work rider Melissa Leitch are waiting anything but patiently for trainer Robert Heathcote.
“It’s all right for him, we just want to get the horse out of here before the crowd leave,” Green says.
Green looks like a tough guy but still manages to carry off an outfit that includes the pinkest of pink shirts and a big rock in his left ear.
Leitch is on the phone to Heathcote who is up in the committee bar celebrating with Our Lukas’ owners.
“He said he’d be down in five minutes,” Green tells her. “That was 10 minutes ago.”
Our Lukas pokes his nose out curiously as if he’s trying to read something on the stable wall opposite his.
He paws lazily at the concrete before Leitch comes over and tousles his forelock with her right hand while she talks on the mobile with her left.
His ears flicker every now and then and his nostrils flare ever so slightly but there’s no sign he’s just run a hard 2150m race.
He still wears the pink bandage on his near side hind leg.
Green explains it’s because Our Lukas tends to hit himself when he gallops. A deep scar that hair won’t grow back over points to a serious injury to his front knee.
“He’s a tough old bugger,” Green says with admiration.
Eventually Heathcote barrels into the stable area flanked by owners John Taylor and Barry O’Toole.
“How good was that?” he says.
He said he was glad front-runner Sir Time Keeper hadn’t gone out with a big lead.
“My fear was that Stathi would have to drag the field up to the tearaway leader. But when he sat third, I thought: ‘We’re getting the run of the race here’.”
However, that confidence evaporated when Scott Seamer booted Frozone clear in the home straight.
“Two hundred out, I’ll be honest, I thought ‘we’re a shot duck here, they’re going to get us’.
“But that’s where this horse’s true quality comes out.
“He’s tough. He just keeps coming. He’s not a fast horse but he’s strong.
“He created history today, he’s a dual Ipswich Cup winner. We’ll go to Caloundra now and we know we’re going to be a genuine chance.
“He’s pulled up in good order. He’s nice and bright, he’s happy, he’s a pleasure to train.”
The trainer is quick to deflect credit to his staff, including Green and Leitch.
“Melissa is the only one that rides him work. And that’s significant. At the end of the day, she’s the one that does all the work on him,” he said.
“No jockey sits on him except race day.
“This is good too,” he says, noticing the owners patting the horse.
“This is the first time the owners have seen him run.”
A huge cry went up from the owners and their families as Wayne Wilson made the announcement that Our Lukas won the Cup.
“The drinks tasted good from the Cup last year and they’ll taste even better this year,” Heathcote said.
“It shows what a tough horse he is.”