There was no Melbourne winner more heartfelt, nor more loudly cheered on Saturday afternoon than the front running Burning Front when he provided trainer Darren Weir with his third winner of a lucrative day at Moonee Valley.
And not just because he was a well-backed $1.60 favourite who never gave his supporters a moment’s worry as he shouldered 60 kilograms to give Brad Rawiller an easy win in the Ranvet Vobis Gold Star race.
No, Burning Front gave teenager Lachlan Lovatt – the son of the gelding’s senior part owner, Justin – every reason to marvel at how good life can feel as he looked down from the committee room where his father and a number of friends were hosting a lunch for him.
The 14-year-old schoolboy has just endured the most harrowing five months of his life in the Royal Children’s Hospital, having undergone chemotherapy and other painful treatment for leukaemia, a condition he was diagnosed with on August 20 last year.
But, his father explained, he has recently been given the all clear, so the lunch and the cheering and whooping for Burning Front, were all part of the thanksgiving and celebration for the fact that his condition has improved.
“He’s just got the all clear, so we have just thrown the chemotherapy key away. We have just got to ride the rest of the treatment out now,” Lovatt senior said.
“We had a tribute lunch in the committee room. We were lucky that Burning Front was running on the same day. We looked at planning it that way, but horses are very unpredictable. The fact that he’s up there with all his mates and his horse has just won is a bit of a fairytale.”
Lachlan’s father bred the winner, as he owns the sire, Primus, and the dam, She’s A Knockout.
He has another horse in training with Mick Kent at Cranbourne called Supergrass – but, Lovatt senior quickly explained, his stable name is “Lachy” – a tribute to his son’s fighting spirit and the love of racing that sustained him during his treatment.