The John O’Shea trained galloper Southern Lad was triumphant in the 2021 Grafton District Services Club Ramornie Handicap over 1200m on July 7. Image: Screenshot from Racing NSW website

Ramornie goes south to city galloper

Emma Pritchard|

When Southern Lad was victorious in the 2021 Grafton District Services Club Ramornie Handicap on July 7, it was the first race the six-year-old gelding had won in a long time.

542 days to be precise.

Despite his winless streak, Southern Lad was one of the popular picks in the 1200m race.

Given a peach of a ride by jockey Christian Reith, the son of Ocean Park (NZ) jumped cleanly from an inside barrier and travelled midfield before powering down the home straight and defeating the heavily backed Gold Coast galloper and wet track specialist Phobetor by just under half a length on the line.

The well-tried Fender with local hoop Ben Looker in the saddle, finished two and half lengths away in third.

Trained at Randwick by John O’Shea, Southern Lad was having his second run in the Ramornie Handicap after finishing fifth behind Signore Fox last year.

Although the current Covid-19 travel restrictions and extensive lockdown in Sydney prevented O’Shea from heading to Grafton to watch his galloper claim the premier country sprint, the prominent trainer praised Reith for his perfect ride and said the horse deserved to win.

“His recent work has been first class,” he said during a post race interview, adding he was thrilled and excited to win his first Ramornie Handicap.

“It was a very deserving win.”

Southern Lad was a $75000 purchase at the 2016 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale.

His recent win took his career earnings to just shy of $600000.

O’Shea also revealed Southern Lad will line up in his third Ramornie Handicap in 2022 as the defending champion.