Ramsden revives Robbie's Pantani memories

Only a miniscule percentage of horses win more than one Group 1 race and not many who have are better known for another victory.

But Pantani is.

The Robbie Laing-trained stayer was good enough to win the South Australian Derby at three and returned to Adelaide two years later to win the Adelaide Cup, when it carried G1 status.

Yet he is perhaps best known for a win in another 3200-metre event.

In 2005, the year after his Adelaide Cup success, the grey son of Pentire won the Andrew Ramsden Stakes first-up from a spell.

It was his first start since the previous spring's Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2500m) and came off the back of four official trials, including a dual-trial Cranbourne session 12 days out from the race.

"We brought him into work around about New Year's Day and I remember he had sore feet, so we just beached him for a week," Laing recalled.

"We trialled him up - I trialled him twice in the one day - and I remember I started to panic on race morning.

"He galloped 600 (metres) at four o'clock in the morning, pulled up terrific and I ended up down the Carrum beach on him at 10:30 rushing him through the water just trying to tighten him up. I thought, 'I've left my run a bit late here'.

"But anyway, first-up (at) two-mile he was too good."

On March 19, 2005 Pantani defeated Bondy and Elwood to win the first edition of the race as the Andrew Ramsden Stakes, having won the final running of the Duke Of Norfolk Stakes 12 months earlier.

He carried less weight in 2005 (56.5kg), when Noel Callow was aboard, than he did with Damien Oliver up in 2004 (57.5kg).

Laing remembered being extremely confident from early on in the 2005 Ramsden.

"I commented to my wife Rachel with a lap to go, generally first-up he was out the back, three lengths last, under the pump having a hard run, but he came down the straight with a lap to go in the Andrew Ramsden and he was jog-trotting, loving it, with his ears pricked," Laing said.

"He ran home quicker than The Vanity (3YO fillies race) that day. I think he ran 35.5 (seconds) home at the end of two-mile, so it was a big effort by the horse."

Pantani raced for another three years and only won one more race, but finished third behind Some Are Bent and Ginolad in the 2007 Grand National Hurdle at just his second jumps start.

He had a brief stint as a showjumper, but found his way back to Laing's and the 19-year-old now plays an important role as a lead horse who thrives in the beach conditions.

Laing's memories of Pantani were revived with the 2018 version of the Andrew Ramsden to be run this Saturday at Flemington, and the Cranbourne trainer is represented by roughies Darabad and Cuban Fighter.

Both come out of the 2400-metre Benchmark 78 at Sandown on May 9, in which they finished third and fourth respectively, and Laing expects them to finish close together again.

Neither deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Pantani, however.

"There won't be much between them at the finish. Darabad will be right up on speed, either in the lead or running second, during the race and other horse will probably give them 10 or 12 lengths start, but he's a determined finisher," he said.

"Pantani could win two Group 1s leading into it and these horses haven't proven themselves at Group level yet.

"He was pretty classy. Not only did he win the South Australian Derby, he won the Adelaide Cup, was fourth in an Adelaide Cup, fourth in a Queen Elizabeth and second in a St Leger.

"It hasn't been until he retired that we really appreciated him."