Track Record Holder Set For 'Grand' Return

ALL eyes will be on powerhouse sprinter La Grand Quality when he makes his eagerly awaited racetrack return at Maitland on Thursday afternoon.

Adam Dobbin

3 June 2020

ALL eyes will be on powerhouse sprinter La Grand Quality when he makes his eagerly awaited racetrack return at Maitland on Thursday afternoon.

Off the scene since March when finishing out of the money in the Maitland Cup won by Mottza, trainer Darryl Thomas has declared La Grand Quality raring to go for Thursday’s 400 metre 4/5th grade assignment.

“He’s as good as I can have him without racing,” Thomas said.

“It’s a big day. I’m pretty nervous to be honest. It’s just good to have him back racing, I’ve ticked every box imaginable to make sure he’s cherry-ripe to return.

“Peter Yore went over him on Wednesday morning and was happy so it’s all systems go. But win, lose or draw I’ll be at the vets Friday morning getting him looked over; the main thing will be how he pulls up from the run.”

Winner at 11 of his 17 starts, including victory in January’s Group 2 Warragul Cup, Thomas has signalled that a return to Victoria is on the cards for the son of El Grand Senor providing he comes out of Thursday’s assignment as hoped.

“The aim is to go to the Bendigo Cup at the end of the month,” Thomas said.

“I’m not sure that’s his perfect track but we’ll head that way all being well. The main thing out of tomorrow is that the stopper (tendon) he’s had problems with doesn’t flare up again. They’re a bugger of an injury because they never really leave and are hard to treat.”

Boasting the Maitland 450 metre track record at a sublime 24.56, La Grand Quality has won both his Maitland 400 metre appearances, including a sizzling personal best time of 22.04.

Set to go around an unbackable favourite, La Grand Quality will be joined by kennelmate Whitfield at Maitland on Thursday, the unbeaten son of Fernando Bale primed for a forward showing in race nine.

“He’s absolutely flying,” Thomas said.

“I trialled him up the straight last week and he went a tenth quicker than La Grand Quality which ain’t an easy thing to do!

“This might sound silly but I’m thinking of taking him to Melbourne for the Bendigo Cup as well. I don’t know whether he’d get a run but the experience away from home in that opposition will do him a lot of good and toughen him up a bit.”

Victorious at his two Maitland appearances in 22.04 (400m) and 25.00 (450m), Whitfield is a member of the hugely talented Fernando Bale x Miss All Class litter doing wonderful things around the tracks.

Sadly for Thomas however, a tragic racing incident last month at The Gardens resulted in the demise of the very exciting Coniglio.

“It was a really hard day for everyone,” Thomas said.

“The Gardens have been great helping staff work through it. I really do need to give them a rap for the way they handled it.

“Potentially he was the best of the ones I have in the litter. He started a fair way behind the other boys but was improving every start. It’s heartbreaking what happened.”