Respected New Plymouth trainer Allan Sharrock has always seen Ladies Man as a superstar in waiting, and Saturday’s Group 1 Livamol Classic (2040m) marked the big gelding’s arrival on the major stage.
The lightly raced six-year-old overpowered his elite weight-for-age opposition at Hastings, joining his half-sister Ladies First as a Group One winner.
It was the seventh win of a 22-start career for the son of Zed, who had won three races last season headed by the Group 3 Trentham Stakes (2100m). He also ran third in the Group 2 Auckland Cup (3200m) and Listed Marton Cup (2200m) and was fourth in the Group 3 Wellington Cup (3200m).
“He got up into open company last year but he was still quite an immature five-year-old,” Sharrock said. “He did a good job, but a few things went wrong along the way. I thought we might have to wait one more year with him.
“From the moment he came into work, it was obvious that he was a very different horse this year. He’s grown into a man, and he’ll probably be better again next year.
“His work on Tuesday morning was absolutely outstanding. He gave his poor old stablemate Ned (Justaskme) a hiding. Ned has run a good race today too (eighth), I’m proud of him, but Ladies Man was set for this race.”
Ladies Man became the latest in a long line of big winners at the Hawke’s Bay Spring Carnival for Sharrock, who had previously won this race with Shez Sinsational (2012). He saddled I Do (2014) and Kawi (2015 and 2016) for three consecutive wins in the race now known as the Group 1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m), while Kawi also won the 2015 edition of the Group 1 Arrowfield Stud Plate (1600m).
Ladies Man was a respected +450 third favourite for Saturday’s Livamol, and his star quality well and truly shone through. Ridden by Ryan Elliot, he settled into an effortless rhythm in midfield as Times Ticking strode forward to put pace into the race as the field turned into the back straight.
Elliot got Ladies Man rolling coming down the side of the track, and by the home turn, he had ominously moved up into fifth out wide on the track.
Ladies Man worked through his gears in the straight, lengthened stride and took control at the 150m mark. Pearl Of Alsace surged through along the inside to lodge a major challenge, with Platinum Invador launching a powerful run from near the back of the field. But Ladies Man was too big and too strong, holding them out by three-quarters of a length.
Platinum Invador got up to take second place from Pearl Of Alsace, with beaten favourite Mustang Valley close up in fourth but perhaps not as effective on Saturday’s Good4 track.
“I’m ecstatic,” Elliot said. “I have to thank Allan Sharrock and his team, as well as Michael McNab – it was his ride originally, but he’s gone to Sydney today to ride Sacred Satono.
“He travelled really strongly all the way. I didn’t want to overdo it, but he tracked into it so nicely. Coming up to the turn I thought I’d have to get going, otherwise they might outsprint me. But he toughed it out really well and still had a bit under the hood.”
Saturday’s big win may have earned Ladies Man a trip across the Tasman. He holds a nomination for the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) on November 7, for which online bookmakers the rate him an +8000 chance.
“I guess we’ve got to go now,” Sharrock said. “He’ll probably have just the one more run before the Cup, in that race on the Saturday before it that Bart Cummings used to use (the 2500m Group 3 Archer Stakes).
“He’s done enough. We’ll come up a little bit short of Bart’s famous 10,000km, but only marginally. He’s doing very well.”