In the richest race of the four group I contests on the final day of the fall meeting, the AUS$800,000 Sydney Cup, the Zabeel 7-year-old prevailed by a neck in a crowded finish.
Serious injuries have punctuated Gallic's career.
Two bowed tendons were nothing compared to the broken pelvis he suffered at Melbourne’s Caulfield oval a few years ago. Gallic was minutes away from being euthanized.
Owners Lloyd and Sue Williams spent a great deal of money to have him saved, seemingly for retirement.
Their son Nick, fresh from spending AUS$4 million at the Australian Easter Yearling Sale, deputized for his parents in the winner’s circle.
Lloyd Williams had stood in the same spot 20 years earlier when his Major Drive foiled a multi-million dollar plunge on Myocard.
“You just can't realize how much work and love has gone into getting this horse back,” he told reporters.
Prepared by Graeme Rogerson, Gallic, was a $170,000 yearling buy at the 2001 New Zealand Premier Sale from his breeder and Haunui Farm client, Roberts Holdings.
The Sydney Cup allowed Gallic to become Zabeel’s 36th individual group I winner. It was his second major cup in consecutive starts 33 days apart — rare for a long distance stayers in this part of the world.
The Williams family won the 2006 Victoria Derby (Aus-I) with another Zabeel son, Efficient, on Oct. 31.
It has been something of a hot streak for Zabeel. The Cambridge Stud kingpin’s highest earner, Vengeance of Rain, won the Sheema Classic (UAE-I) March 31. A second son, Fiumicino, landed the Australian Derby (Aus-I) on April 7.
Gallic narrowly secured the also 3,200-meter Adelaide Cup (Aus-II) at its first edition since being downgraded from group I. Injuries have restricted him to 22 starts over five seasons, resulting in seven wins and nine placings and earnings of $1,161,550.
Lloyd Williams said that Gallic’s Sydney Cup win was his most satisfying victory in his long association with racing. The multi-millionaire owner has part-owned two Melbourne Cup winners.
“I've been racing horses for a long period of time but this is something special indeed,” he said.
“His problems have meant we have had to train him like an English stayer with hours and hours of walking and lots of time spent down at the beach.
“It's a bit of a dream really to think he could win an Adelaide Cup and a Sydney Cup within a month after all the injuries he's had. He's my favorite horse I'd say.”
Nick Williams said the victory was due to the work put in by Rogerson and his staff, the ride by Steven Arnold and the horse’s extraordinary resilience.
Arnold settled Gallic at the rail, sixth of the 13 runners. Passing the 700-meter mark he angled out to challenge.
A wall of at least seven or eight horses topped the Randwick rise just over a furlong out. Arnold kept at Gallic and the horse belatedly responded to put his head in front near the wire.
They won the Cup by a neck from Irazu (50-1), No Wine No Song (16-1) another half-head away third.
Less than a length separated the first five. Unfortunately for the backers of the 7-4 elect, Bluetigeroo, he was at the wrong end of that sequence.
Flemington trainer Steve Richards half-joked that he'd wished that Gallic hadn’t come to Sydney.
“But I'm just so proud of my horse,” he said of Irazu. “I'm sure he’ll be an even better 5-year-old next season and this placing qualifies us for the Melbourne Cup.”