Leaderboard shines in jumping role at Warrnambool

Leaderboard winning during the Warrnambool May Carnival. Photo: Bruno Cannatelli

Leaderboard has found a new avenue for success in a jumping role out of Te Akau Racing’s Cranbourne stable, and his latest victory on Sunday has set him up for a shot at three of Australia’s feature jumps races.

A former victor in the Listed New Zealand St Leger (2600m) and Group 3 Wellington Cup (3200m), Leaderboard had been out of the winner’s circle since his win in the latter last January, but that all changed when he headed across the Tasman to further his career as a jumper.

The son of Street Cry produced an exciting first for trainer Mark Walker when winning a maiden hurdle during the prestigious Warrnambool May Carnival, and lost no admirers when finishing second in the Australian Hurdle (3900m) to Port Guillaume earlier this month.

Returning to Warrnambool to tackle his first steeplechase event on Sunday, Leaderboard was rated an overwhelming favourite at $1.90 and expat-Kiwi jockey Aaron Kuru controlled the race from the outset with a faultless showing in the 3450m contest, pulling away at the post for a 3.5-length victory.

“It was a brilliant display of jumping and a lovely ride of Aaron’s,” Walker said.

“He’s really taken to the jumping caper and absolutely loves it. He can jump off a short stride, a long stride, he’s very nimble, and really has huge potential.

“It’s great for Fortuna Racing, John and Jessica Galvin and their owners, they have a great understanding of racing and it’s lovely to train Leaderboard in Australia, and for him to have now won his first steeplechase assignment.”

The nine-year-old will have his opportunity to test that promise in the Thackeray Steeplechase (3450m) on July 7, before contesting both the Australian Grand National Hurdle (4200m) at Sandown and Australian Grand National Steeplechase (4500m) at Ballarat in August.

“They are three really big assignments ahead of him, but we do think he is a top-class jumper,” Walker said.

Leaderboard was purchased as a maiden winner in Europe out of the Tattersalls Horses in Training Sale, and he has earned majority of his $422,000 in prizemoney for the Fortuna Leaderboard Syndicate, managed by John Galvin.

“I’ve been watching jumping races for most of my life and seen some pretty good jumpers in that time, but this boy is really showing to have the goods,” Galvin said.

“We’ve had Leaderboard for six years and he’s probably only been a bit in and out with his form because he hasn’t been able to run in races that are long enough for him.

“He showed us when winning the Wellington Cup and St Leger, and third in the New Zealand Cup, what he could do over ground, and now he’s excelling in the jumping game.

“I’ll be there for his next start in the Thackery. It’s a bit of a mission, three and a half hours on the train to Warrnambool, but it’s a great venue and I heard the commentator say that the meeting in July is always a sell-out, as well.”

Te Akau Racing stablemate Prismatic also put in a strong performance for second behind runaway leader Fabalot in the open hurdle over 3200m at Warrnambool, in the hands of Kuru.

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