Dragon Leap was a close-up fourth in the A$1million Memsie Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday. Photo / Supplied.

Horse racing: Dragon Leap is surging ahead on comeback trail

29 Aug, 2022

The relief of Dragon Leap showing he can be competitive in an Australian group 1 has been replaced by excitement and anticipation for what comes next for the team behind the comeback galloper.

Dragon Leap was a close-up fourth in the A$1million Memsie Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday, thrilling co-trainer Lance O’Sullivan who admits the race was a throw at the stumps and “sixth or seventh” would still have been pass mark.

Dragon Leap was aided by a handy draw in a largely on-pace race won by the leader but still beat home some very serious horses and earned A$45,000 for his fourth, twice as much as he would have earned finishing second to Imperatriz in the Foxbridge Plate had he stayed home.

That means he has now paid for his spring campaign and O’Sullivan and training partner Andrew Scott can target even more suitable A$1million races in the next six weeks.

“To run that well in a big weight-for-age group 1 in Australia shows he has still got it,” says O’Sullivan.

“It is not that we doubted that but he has had so many niggly issues in the last two years you still want them to prove they are back.

“He pushed Imperatriz close at Ruakaka before he went to Aussie and her win on Saturday coupled with his fourth suggest he is right back where we want him.”

Dragon Leap wasn’t well suited by the weight-for-age conditions on Saturday with his lack of winning form in the frustrating last two years leaving him on a low rating for a horse of his ability but that will hopefully be a good thing for his next two targets.

His trainers are hoping to get him into the A$1million Sir Rupert Clarke at Caulfield on September 17 and the A$1million Toorak also at Caulfield on October 8, both handicap races so Dragon Leap in which will be asked to carry close to the lowest weight.

“Being handicaps they are ideal targets and he has come through last Saturday really well, the girls looking after him over there say he was full of himself this morning (Monday) which is not like him,” says O’Sullivan.

“So he has two really good targets and has done enough on Saturday to confirm he won’t be coming home this spring.”

That doesn’t mean their Wexford Stables will be without major race players at home with Dark Destroyer a chance to go to Hastings for the Triple Crown starting next week while O’Sullivan is excited to get the untapped Karman Line back to the races.

Talented enough to finish a luckless third in the Karaka Mile last January, Karman Line will return to racing soon with a low rating of 69.

That means she will need to win a race to sneak into black type fields like the Couplands Mile at Riccarton, which the stable nominated her for yesterday as one potential spring opportunity.

“She is a very nice mare and we would obviously like to aim her at black type races this spring if she stays here but there are also be options for her in Australia,” said O’Sullivan.

One stable star who won’t be out and about this spring is Vodafone Derby winner Asterix, who hasn’t raced since winning the classic at Ellerslie on March 5.

“He has had some hoof issues and is on the water walker at Margaret Park so the spring is basically done for him and we will target the autumn,” says O’Sullivan.