John Thompson sets sights on Epona Stakes with Le Lude

John Thompson is hoping Le Lude’s overdue win in the Aspiration Quality is a portent of things to come, not only for the mare, but for the stable.

The top trainer has been through a challenging period with his two best horses, Group 1 winner Dreamforce and multiple stakeswinner Sweet Deal, both retiring in the spring while his rising star Xtremetime was fatally injured in a race fall.

The loss of the trio left a big void in his small team and to add salt to the wound, while he has produced half a dozen winners from his past 50 runners, he has also had 17 minor placegetters and seven fourths.

“Dreamforce and Sweet Deal were retired and then I lost what I thought was my most promising horse (Xtremetime) when Brenton (Avdulla) fell,” Thompson said.

“That shattered me, I’ve got to say. I took a while to get over that.

“But that’s our job, to find quality horses and that’s what I’ll be trying to do going forward.

“It has been a frustrating run and my horses have been running well but it has been seconds, thirds and fourths.”

Thompson’s luck finally turned at Randwick on Saturday when Le Lude made a mess of her rivals to race away with the Group 3 Aspiration Quality (1600m), defeating Polly Grey by 4-1/4 lengths with Divine Diosa third.

It was just reward for the mare, who posted a valuable black-type placing when third to Expat in the Group 2 Millie Fox Stakes last month before going to the next level at Randwick.

“She has been so honest for the last couple of years (and) very unlucky in a couple of Listed races,” Thompson said.

“We got the black-type last start, but she had come on from then and we were quietly confident (on Saturday)

“It’s a well-deserved win. She is a lovely mare and she has still got a bright future.”

Thompson indicated Le Lude’s next target would be the Group 2 Epona Stakes (1900m) at Rosehill on Golden Slipper day.

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