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Justin Time! Stanley Lands Comeback Win in Pallarenda
Prolific winning hoop Justin Stanley made the perfect return from serious injury with victory on Heroic Angel in the fillies’ division of the Pallarenda Stakes at Cluden Park on Saturday.
Stanley teamed with Rockhampton trainer Kevin Hansen and owner Michelle Walker to land the prestigious two-year-old race on his first day back after a fall at Gatton in April.
The trio landed a similar hit and run victory with star filly Sweet Dolly on debut at Cluden last November before she went on to win in Brisbane and then the QTIS Jewel at the Gold Coast.
For Brisbane-based Stanley, who has ridden more than 100 winners in two of the past five seasons and 98 last year despite his injuries, the day couldn’t come soon enough.
Stanley said Heroic Angel, sent out a $1.55 raging favourite on Saturday, may not be as fast as Sweet Dolly, but she had a bright future.
“She won a trial impressively in Rocky and it was my aim to ride her on my first day back for Kevin,” Stanley said.
“The filly doesn’t have a lot of early speed and I was a bit worried when she got so far back, but she got a nice run through them and was very strong at the end.
“It’s been a long road back from the damage I had to my left shoulder. It required an AC joint reconstruction and I was told straight up it’d mean six months out.
“It’s been six months and three weeks so it was pretty right.
“I had my arm in a sling for eight weeks and had a lot of physio work along the way.
“I moved up to Rocky for a while to ride work for Clinton (Taylor) and Jamie (Maconachie) and get my fitness back, and I’ve ridden in 14 or 15 trials.
“But nothing is really the same as race fitness.
“It was hard for the first few months sitting on the sidelines but I’m finally back and it’s a good feeling.”
At the moment Stanley can only take two rides a meeting in his transition back, but will be able to take up to four in November.
Heroic Angel had those who took the short price taking deep breaths in the early stages of the race when she drifted back to third last.
But Stanley charted an inside course around the home turn and quickly overpowered her opposition win by 1 3/4 lengths from Roy Chillemi-trained Tycoon Cindy with Blondie’s secret a length away third.
While Heroic Angel was impressive, the Chillemi-trained Missile Thunder ($11) looks a star in the making after a stunning four-length win in the colts and geldings division of the Pallarenda.
The Smart Missile gelding settled mid-field but showed electric acceleration to beat stablemate Go Getaboy with Mission Estate a solid third in a race time of 57.79s, almost two seconds faster than the fillies time of 59.69.
Chillemi, who trains last season’s gun two-year-old Palencia, described the gelding as a potential topliner.
“He’s as good as any two-year-old I’ve turned out first time at the races,” Chillemi said.
“At home he’s been working well and his trial was good even though he’d had a bit of a virus and was not quite over it.
“It’s been a bit quiet for us so far this season. But It’s been a change over time with horses at the end of their preps going out and the young ones coming in.
“We’ve got four two-year-olds at the moment which look like they’ll be nice horses for us. It was great to get all four of them to the track today and get a win and two seconds.”
Pictured: Justin’s back. Leading Queensland jockey Justin Stanley guides Hedrio Angel (Blue colours) to a strong win in the fillies’s division of the Pallarenda Stakes on Saturday.
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