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Gaylard legacy honoured at Bendigo

Spirit of Gaylard’s maiden win on has honoured the legacy of the late Rob Gaylard in fine style after the Puissance de Lune colt scored smartly at Bendigo on Sunday.

The Mitch Freedman-trained colt lived up to the expectations of punters as the $1.60 favourite and also to the cheer of many on lookers, with Gaylard a longtime friend and mentor to many in the racing industry.

Gaylard passed away in July last year, but friends and co-owners Gerry Ryan and Terry Henderson as well as John and Joan Spence set out to honour his legacy and race the horse in partnership with Gaylard’s wife Karen.

Not many however would have been as excited as Casey Bruce, who cheered on from afar, who the Gaylard’s took upon as their own daughter.

“I’m out at Living Legends and watched it on my phone, I had to get into some service because I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” Bruce explained.

“For me my heart skipped a beat and had a flutter and then I lost it when Rick (McIntosh) said there will be a few tears and I knew Karen would be inconsolable.

“It’s exciting, the horse means so much to a lot of people.”

Spirit of Gaylard was purchased for $120,000 from the 2020 Karaka sales and caught the eye with an impressive debut performance at Flemington back in May.

“I think the story goes Terry and Gerry were both bidding against each other, and both realised and thought why don’t we stop driving the price up and buy the horse together,” Bruce recalled.

“They spoke to Mum about naming the horse after Rob, but tried to keep it a little surprise as well.

“I know a few names got submitted and rejected, he was known as the silver fox at the track, so I think that was one, but as soon as I found out it was Spirit of Gaylard that was very fitting.”

While the three-year-old looks to have an exciting racetrack career ahead of him, Bruce, a former jockey who is also widely known for her Off the Track with Chautauqua is already eyeing off the flashy galloper for the show ring.

“It’s fitting that the horse has talent and I think his favourite racecourse was Flemington, so who knows if he went on a Derby path how exciting that might be,” Bruce admitted.

“And Bendigo was probably a close second to his favourite track.

“If he wasn’t a colt, I told the boys I’d have him as my next Off the Track horse.

“But I know Rob would have preferred to have had a stallion, so we will wait and see.”

Jordan Childs returns to the mounting yard on Spirit Of Gaylard (NZ) after winning the Bendigo Mazda Maiden Plate at Bendigo Racecourse on October 03, 2021 in Bendigo, Australia. (Brett Holburt/Racing Photos).

Trainer Mitch Freedman was also pleased to get the win with another of the progeny of Puissance de Lune, following in the footsteps of stablemates Southern Moon and Moonlight Maid.

While both those horses contested the VRC Derby and Oaks respectively in their three-year-old season, he’s not quite sure Spirit of Gaylard will follow the same path, looking more towards an autumn preperation.

“We put him away pretty quickly after Flemington, I think for those stayers to get a run as a two-year-old and get their bones moving and get them to work out what it’s all about is important,” Freedman said post-race.

“He’s not too hardened yet, we just want to get some racing into him and see where he takes us.”

Spirit of Gaylard’s sire Puissance de Lune also carried the Gerry Ryan silks to victory at Bendigo when he won the Bendigo Cup in track record time in 2012 when strapped by Mitch Freedman.

Spirit of Gaylard is $21 chance with Sportsbet for the Victoria Derby.

The above article was written by Ben Sporle for racing.com and can be viewed in its original form here.