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07/07/02 Roughie Gives Rookie Trainer First Winner
Former apprentice jockey and current rookie trainer George Christodoulou experienced his greatest thrill in racing and provided one of Flemington’s biggest recent upsets when Levendiz powered home for a thrilling win in the Mitty’s Handicap (1200m) at Melbourne’s premier track yesterday.

Starting on course at $71 and paying more than $96 on SuperTAB, Levendiz who was unlucky at Sandown last start caused a boilover result.

Christodoulou, who bred and owns the colt with his wife, formerly trained at Pakenham before a move was required a couple of years ago.

"I did have my horses at Pakenham but I had to shift when the stables they were in were sold and the new owners didn’t want any renters in there," Christodoulou recalled. "So we’re now based at Yarra Glen."

Levendiz, a son of the Victorian based stallion Lacryma Cristi, started at huge odds despite quite a good run behind Keldance at Sandown late last month.

"He was terribly unlucky last start, he should have bolted in," Christodoulou recalled. "He missed the start and hit his head on the gates and then was a mile back, giving the eventual winner about twelve lengths on the home turn."

"At the finish he was only two lengths from the winner, so it was a really, really good run," he added.

Levendiz is one of four horses in the Yarra Glen stables, but until Saturday was the only one currently in training.

Christodoulou said the excessive costs of training a horse had prevented him from having his other three horses in preparation for the racetrack.

"I’d decided that Levendiz was probably the best of the four and we was put in work to hopefully win some races and get some money coming in," the excited trainer explained.

Levendiz, who before Saturday had placed in two of his eight starts, gave Christodoulou his first winner as a trainer yesterday.

In an ironic twist it was however not the first winner as an owner for the former short time apprentice jockey. He’d owned a few winners, the best was trained by Bart Cummings. As if scripted for a fairytale the previous race was captured by the "Cups King."

Levendiz, a three-year-old colt, got home in a thrilling finish with Peter Mertens throwing everything at him to nab the Terry O’Sullivan trained Malu right on the post. Blue Wina was only a handful of centimetres away in third place.

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