Friday, June 14, 2024

Horse racing: West Coast resumes with hard-fought win in Manawatū

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West Coast winning the Manawatū Steeples at Woodville on Sunday.

Champion steeplechaser West Coast could be aimed at a third Grand National this winter, but this one will require a lot more travelling.

The wonderful jumper resumed his steeplechasing career with a hard-fought win over Izymydaad in the Manawatū Steeples at Woodville yesterday, his first jumping start since winning the Great Northern Steeples at Te Rapa last year.

In both races West Coast has carried a mammoth 73kg top weight, earned by also winning the last two Grand Nationals at Riccarton and the Wellington, Hawke’s Bay and Koral Steeplechases.

He has now won eight of his 11 starts over the bigger fences, making him a modern-day great, and trainer Mark Oulaghan says he will likely chase a third Grand National – just not in this country.

“I think his big aim this campaign will be the Australian Grand National at Ballarat in August,” he says.

“It is worth a lot of money [A$350,000] for one race and means we don’t have to keep going to the well again every start here with such big weights.” Oulaghan not only won the Steeples yesterday but the Awapuni Hurdle with Berry The Cash and the Woodville-Pahīatua Cup on the flat with Pinkerton, yet was taking it all on his stride.

“That is a big day for us, but I am sure other trainers have done something similar in the past.”

Good luck trying to find them.

Berry The Cash won the Grand National Hurdles last season and could return to Riccarton to defend that title, but Oulaghan says Pinkerton won’t be joining the stable’s jumping stars.

“He is too small,” he laughs.

The other jumping eye-catcher yesterday was 2021 Grand National Steeples winner Te Kahu.

He was a magnificent second in the maiden hurdle in his first start in over two and a half years on a day that breathed life into the sometimes struggling local jumping scene.

No lolly for Molly

The Molly Bloom camp aren’t panicking even after the NZ 1000 Guineas winner finished out of the money at Doomben on Saturday.

Molly Bloom was a sound fifth in the A$300,000 fillies race, her dazzling sprint looking dulled as she was trapped wide for much of the 2000m race.

Co-trainer Andrew Scott says Molly Bloom may not have enjoyed the track conditions, which were worse than what had been expected after race-day rain, but he and training partner Lance O’Sullivan think there is better to come.

“She didn’t have a lot go right, but we think she will improve again for the Oaks in two weeks,” says Scott.

“She might have come to the end of it the last 100m, but that could have been a combination of the run she got and the track being a bit slower than she likes.”

The run saw Molly Bloom lose favouritism for the Oaks, over 2200m at Eagle Farm on June 8, as she drifted to $5.50, while Saturday’s winner Scarlet Oak is the $3.20 new favourite.

Scarlet Oak has created a huge impression in just three runs in Australia since being purchased out of the Ken and Bev Kelso stable following a Matamata debut win in March.

Aussie trip earned

Andrew Forsman stablemates Mary Shan and Devastate may have earned side-by-side seats in Australia with their wins at Pukekohe on Saturday.

The black-type gallopers ploughed through the Heavy 10 conditions to provide their Cambridge trainer with a treble for the day and five winners in three days.

Mary Shan’s ability to handle the very wet track gives Forsman options in coming weeks in either Melbourne or Brisbane, each giving her a chance at Australian black-type before she turns 4 and that becomes a lot tougher to accrue.

“The owners of Devastate are keen to give him his chance in Australia at some stage too, and I thought he was very brave on Saturday, so he could well head there for a couple of races as well,” says Forsman.

Forsman will have last Wednesday’s Ipswich winner First Innings and filly Moonlight Magic in this Saturday’s Queensland Derby.

Michael Guerin wrote his first nationally published racing articles while still in school and started writing about horse racing and the gambling industry for the Herald as a 20-year-old in 1990. He became the Herald’s Racing Editor in 1995 and covers the world’s biggest horse racing carnivals.

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