A Group Two win during the Melbourne spring carnival on Illustrious Lad has been Anthony Darmanin’s biggest success in the saddle.
The pair will be out to better that on Saturday when jockey and horse both chase their first Group One win in the Lightning Stakes at Flemington.
Darmanin has had less than a handful of rides in Group One races during his career and admits Illustrious Lad is his best chance to snare an elite-level win.
He has ridden the Peter Gelagotis-trained gelding in six races for four wins and two seconds with their biggest victory the Group Two tab.com,au (1200m).
Darmanin is excited to be aboard Illustrious Lad again in the star-studded Lightning and is looking forward to seeing how the talented sprinter measures up in the 1000m weight-for-age feature for which he is at $14.
“I trialled him a week and a half ago and he trialled very well at Cranbourne,” Darmanin said.
“I didn’t do a hell of a lot on him but he feels really good. He feels a bit bigger and stronger. Hopefully he runs up to his previous runs and I’m sure he’ll be competitive.
“Obviously weight-for-age is going to be a bit harder for him. I think his main goal is the Newmarket, but he’s very honest and I wouldn’t put it past him.”
Darmanin said he would be “lost for words” if he could land a Group One.
“And I’d just be very grateful,” he said.
“I’ve been riding for a long time and never really got great opportunities but Pete has always stuck by me when he can give me a ride, and I’d be humbled more than anything.
“Obviously every jockey would love to win a Group One.”
Darmanin is one of three jockeys, along with Matthew Allen (The Quarterback) and Regan Bayliss (Faatinah), who will be chasing their first Group One win in Saturday’s Lightning.
Damien Oliver, meanwhile, will be out to improve on his record five Lightning wins when he rides favourite Flying Artie.