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Seven-year-old gelding Riva De Lago will be aiming to break a 15-month winning drought on Saturday in the Listed Lough Neagh Stakes (1350m) at Doomben and new trainer Rob Heathcote believes he’s in with a chance.
Riva De Lago has played a game of musical chairs when it comes to trainers in the last couple of years. He was originally in the care of Con Karakatsanis from 2010 to 2012 but a disappointing winter campaign in Brisbane saw the gelding transferred to Chris Waller.
The pair worked well together at the beginning, finishing third in the Listed Razor Sharp Quality Handicap (1200m) as well as winning the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes (1400m) in 2013. However it went downhill after that with Riva De Lago finishing end of the field in eight of his nine following starts.
He was then sent to Brisbane for a summer carnival campaign with Heathcote, which has got off to a better start than many expected.
Riva De Lago was a $41 outside shot to win the Group 3 George Moore Stakes (1200m) at Ladbrokes.com.au a fortnight ago. While he didn’t manage to win or place, the gelding finished just two lengths behind winner Big Money in fifth place.
Heathcote was pleased with the result. Riva De Lago made a mockery of his starting price despite not having much luck in the race and the trainer is confident the gelding will do better in the 2014 Lough Neagh Stakes, seeing as he’s better suited to the distance, will jump well from barrier three, and is down in weights at 57.5kg.
“Riva De Lago was one of a couple who didn’t have a lot of luck in the race,” Heathcote told Sky Racing.
“I think he will be better suited at the 1350 metres and he gets in well at the weights.
“I have been very pleased with Riva De Lago since he came to me. It would be nice to say you had improved one on Chris but maybe it is just a change of scenery.”
The gelding is once again an outside chance in the Lough Neagh betting market at Ladbrokes.com.au, though he has seen his price shorten from $26 into $21.
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