Kris Lees and Dylan Gibbons have combined with Loch Eagle (+1700) proving too strong in the Group 2 The Ingham (1600m) at Randwick on Saturday, earning his ticket to the 2024 Doncaster Mile (1600m) in the process.
The writing was on the wall for this talented son of Lonhro after a luckless performance last start in The Gong (1600m) at Kembla Grange a fortnight ago, settling for a runner-up finish after sitting wide without cover for the duration.
It was going to be another tough task to overcome on Saturday, with the five-year-old gelding picking up barrier 18 prior to the gates opening, but courtesy of an excellent ride from Dylan Gibbons, Loch Eagle was navigated to a perfect stalking position.
Phearson (+3000) and Attractable (+750) were always going to ensure the 1600m contest would be run at a genuine clip, and that’s exactly what unfolded.
The former was unable to match motors with the eventual runner-up, as Attractable slipped away for what, for a moment, seemed an unassailable lead, before Loch Eagle produced a stunning turn of foot to claw back the margin in the shadows of the post.
The quinella pair of last year’s Ingham finished honest as ever, with Lion’s Roar (+500) and Kirwans Lane (+3300) finishing in third and fourth respectively.
It was all honours the winner, however, as Loch Eagle took home the majority of the $2 million prize to winning connections.
2023 The Ingham Replay – Loch Eagle | T: Kris Lees | J: Dylan Gibbons
Kris Lees was on course in the aftermath to praise his winning galloper and alluded to preparing for a different race after only gaining entry earlier in the morning.
“Great thrill,” said Lees.
“Great to win with Dylan and a really good bunch of owners.
“At 7.29am he hadn’t gained a start and he was just about to have a gallop. Was going to prepare for a race next Saturday.
“The phone call came through being third emergency and he had to overcome a wide gate.
“Early in the run I thought he was going to be posted but he got him in three deep with cover.
“It was a lovely ride, presented him at the right time and was able to get there on the line.
“It was really pleasing to see.”
Dylan Gibbons was elated with his mount and new it was only a matter of slotting in for cover to see the best version of Loch Eagle.
“The only concern from out there was if I’d get the cover,” said Gibbons.
“We had a bit of a crack and went forward.
“Thankfully I was able to jag a spot, three wide with cover. He’s an absolute warrior this horse.
“He’s slowly progressed through his grades, he’s always had a lot of ability but never had the luck.
“For him to win today and reward everyone it’s great.”