Gelagotis sets sights on Group One races

As the trainer of a small stable, Peter Gelagotis is hoping to be a big player in the feature sprints during the upcoming Melbourne and Sydney carnivals.

Gelagotis collected the Group Two Australia Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on Friday night with Malaguerra and has the up-and-coming Illustrious Lad earmarked for a Flemington Group One return.

The trainer will keep his two sprinters on separate paths in Melbourne before a possible trip to Sydney.

Malaguerra will have his next start in the Group One C F Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on February 11 after which a decision will be made whether to press on to the Futurity Stakes (1400m) two weeks later or to freshen and tackle the TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick.

“It will be the Orr and then a freshen-up into the TJ Smith or maybe on to the Futurity and then a spell and bring him back for the spring,” Gelagotis told Melbourne radio RSN927.

“He didn’t have a long break (after the spring) and we don’t want to gas him.”

Gelagotis says Illustrious Lad is likely to begin his autumn campaign in the Lightning Stakes (1000m) on February 18 before progressing to the Newmarket Handicap (1200m).

He favours the Lightning Stakes with its three week break rather than the Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield a week later.

Gelagotis says Illustrious Lad is an improving galloper as Malaguerra was 12 months earlier.

Malaguerra won twice during the 2015 Melbourne Cup carnival then returned the following autumn to win at Group One level in Brisbane for Lee and Anthony Freedman before Gelagotis took over and won the Darley Classic.

Illustrious Lad showed his potential winning the Linlithgow Stakes at Flemington on October 29 before running second to Lucky Hussler at Sandown on November 12.

“Illustrious Lad profiles very similar to Malaguerra,” Gelagotis said.

“Malaguerra has come back and gone up a notch so Illustrious Lad now has to do the same.”

Gelagotis was happy with the return of Mourinho who was unplaced in the Australia Stakes, his first run since finishing third in the Peter Young Stakes last February.

Mourinho is again being aimed at the Peter Young, a race he won in 2015.

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