Le Grange's Windfall from cheap horse
Trainer’s biggest joy from treble is $8,700 bargain and Singapore’s first Justify winner
An elated Ricardo Le Grange said he felt “blessed” after Windfall and Longevity opened their accounts on Nov 18, before Taling Pling closed out a prolific day for the South African with a treble.
Save for Taling Pling ($19) – a recent transfer from Michael Clements and raced by Thai outfit Falcon Racing Stable – the big haul kept up a dream run for one of Le Grange’s staunchest supporters these days, Sandy and Karen Javier.
On Singapore Gold Cup day on Nov 11, Bestsller, their flagship horse, and Ace Of Diamonds got the ball rolling for the Filipino connections before Windfall ($85) and Longevity ($25) followed suit on Nov 18.
“I’m just blessed to train those winners for Sandy and Karen. They are fantastic people to train for,” said Le Grange.
“Big thank you to them and their racing manager Jun Almeida as well. May the good run continue.”
In the old days, powerhouse outfits led by Fred Crabbia and Tmen Stable’s Mark Yong formed the backbone of Le Grange’s stable, a legacy passed down from his previous boss Patrick Shaw.
But a noticeable shift towards a Philippine ownership base started in 2019 with the likes of Rocket Star, Malibu Beach and Leatherhead for the Mendoza family.
More owners from the Philippines have since come on board, with the Javiers arguably the driving force.
As much as Le Grange was pleased as punch with the cerise and blue star colours’ purple patch, there was one winner who tickled him pink a little more – Windfall.
Not only was he the first progeny of the US’ 13th Triple Crown winner Justify to win at Kranji, but one of the cheapest to have gone under the hammer and gone on to win.
Le Grange said he was shocked to be the sole bidder for the only Justify foal at the Magic Millions 2YOs In Training Sale on the Gold Coast in October 2022.
With the auctioneer unable to roust up much interest at the sales ring, he quickly knocked the gelding down for a mere A$10,000 (S$8,700) to Le Grange, acting on behalf of the Javiers.
Normally, to bring home a son of Justify at such bargain-basement price would be a steal. But, it still planted the seed of doubt in Le Grange’s mind.
“I couldn’t believe I got a Justify for only A$10,000,” he recalled.
“His breeze-ups and conformation were good, but I couldn’t understand why I was the only bidder and I got him. People thought I was crazy, but today, I was proven right, I’m glad I bought him.”
Le Grange said the overall scepticism, even from the owners, was not dispelled until he fell in by 3/4 length from Lim’s Jinba (A’Isisuhairi Kasim) in the $75,000 Restricted Maiden (1,200m).
“When I put him in a $75,000 race, the owner asked me if he’d be good enough,” said Le Grange.
“I told him he had done nothing wrong, so why not give it a try.
“I’m very thrilled he won. He’s like the lucky card from the pack.”
Interestingly, he bought Longevity at the same sales 31 lots later, but the son of Akeed Mofeed put a much bigger hole in his pocket.
The irony of an A$130,000 horse winning a $20,000 Maiden versus a horse who cost 13 times less and has already recouped his price tag in a $70,000 race, albeit at his eighth start, was not lost on him.
But regardless, the thrill of having the eye for two winners in the making mattered more to him.
“It’s the same satisfaction, but different,” he said.
“Longevity was looking for the trip (1,600m). There are not many options for Restricted Maidens, only up to 1,400m.
“They took him on, but he fought back and it was a gutsy win. He got a beautiful ride from Vlad (Duric).”
The Australian jockey, who won two races on Bestseller, can see a future for Longevity.
“Coming off Restricted Maidens to a maiden race, it was like he was dropping in grade,” he said.
“I thought that as he’s a big solid staying type, I would just let him bowl along.
“He was there to get beaten, but to his credit, he kept fighting.
“Shout-out to the owners, I’ve had a good run with them. They have stuck solid with Ricky and (assistant trainer) Jacci Detert.”
Le Grange also praised his apprentice Rozlan Nazam for his 10-out-of-10 handling of Windfall.
“Rozlan listened to instructions and won the race at the start. He gave the horse a great ride,” he said.