Gillespie with big Inter Dominion dreams

At just 28 years of age, young Queensland horsewoman Tayla Gillespie understands the opportunity that presents her over the next few weeks.

The up-and-coming local conditioner arrives at the prestigious Inter Dominion series in her own backyard with a square gaiter who has claims of being competitive throughout the series.

The Kiwi-bred Majestic Lavros has not shown his best form in recent weeks but the Prenzlau-based trainer thinks she has her trotter back to where he needs to be ahead of Friday’s opening round of heats.

Majestic Lavros and Gillespie enter ‘ID23’ ranked 15th overall for the trotting gait and have drawn two for the second of the heats from Albion Park on Friday evening.

Fellow Queensland trainer Tim Butt has reflected in recent weeks that an Inter Dominion series can be the making of a young trainer in the Australasian landscape.

While Gillespie is not counting her chickens before they hatch, she does appreciate the opportunity she has been handed by Majestic Lavros’ owner Mark Gurry.

“You dream of moments like this to even have horses like this that are good enough to be considered to go in it,” the emerging horsewoman said.

“We are really pumped.

“Mark liked the horse over in New Zealand and followed a lot of his races over there and he bought him with the Inter Dominion in Brisbane in mind this year.

“Mark looked for him for us and now he is here.”

The Gurry and Gillespie surnames have been linked for decades.

The long-time owner had horses with Tayla’s father – Shaun Gillespie – when he was training.

Shaun has stepped back from the training ranks in recent years to support his daughter in her journey.

Just as Tayla aims to be in the coming weeks, the Gurry and Gillespie team have been ultra-competitive in trotting ID series’ before, as well.

Kasyanov ran the race of his life back in 2010 when he finished a brave second in the Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final at Moonee Valley splitting the Chris Lang duo of Sundons Gift and Skyvalley.

At the time, respected harness voice Chris Barsby wrote that Kasyanov’s performance was clearly the best effort of a Queensland trotter in the 40-year history of the event.

To follow in her father’s footsteps and prepare a trotter for an ID series in their own backyard, Tayla is relishing in the opportunity ahead of her.

Shaun has been a close mentor and influence for his daughter throughout her time in the caper.

Young Queensland horsewoman Tayla Gillespie and Majestic Lavros.

“It is very exciting, it is a benefit for us that we do not have to travel for the series,” the young trainer said.

“Everybody is excited to be having it here.”

Tayla enjoyed a career-best season in 2022, preparing 36 winners, and she was recognised at the Queensland Harness Awards in Brisbane by claiming the Redcliffe Harness Racing Club Horse Of The Year gong with the consistent Johnrod.

Majestic Lavros was a nine-time winner back in New Zealand before being purchased to come to Australia for the Inter Dominion series earlier this year.

The eight-year-old gelding scored on debut in the Sunshine State in early September after two smart trials but it has not gone to plan since.

He is yet to win in his four runs since the opening victory and finished more than 40 metres behind the winner in his last two outings.

Ahead of the opening round of heats, Tayla thinks she has her ID hopeful back near his best.

Matt Elkins – who has been in the sulky in all five of his Australian efforts – has been booked for Friday’s opening heat.

“We were really excited after those two trials and that first run he had,” she said.

Majestic Lavros and Matt Elkins following their first win in Queensland.

“Unfortunately from there he ran into a bit of trouble with a virus and having a break in between.

“He had a bit of feet trouble as well that we are on top of now.

“We were disheartened and disappointed with his last run but we have had some blood work done and been scoped – he is bright and his work has been good since.

“We were really excited early and we think we have got him right again now.”

Tayla says she does have a query around how well her trotter will handle the compact nature of an ID series with the races close together.

As of Thursday morning, Majestic Lavros is rated a $15 chance with bookmakers in the opening round heat.

He is a $51 shot to claim the overall series.

Tayla prepares a team of 20 standardbreds as well as working in aged care away from the racing industry.

As well as Majestic Lavros, Gurry has also provided the team a number of other promising horses that the Gillespie team is excited about looking towards 2024.

The second and third rounds of the series will follow on December 5 and December 9 respectively, culminating with both pacing and trotting Finals on Saturday, December 16.

Young Queensland horsewoman Tayla Gillespie and Majestic Lavros.

By Jordan Gerrans