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 New Zealand Gallops News 
Saturday, February 18 2017

Veteran stayer El Soldado has done it again, repeating his 2016 Auckland Cup heroics with a determined front-running win in the Gr. 2 Go Racing Syndications Avondale Cup at Ellerslie this afternoon.

The Colombia gelding hadn’t won a race since his 120-to-one shock in the Auckland Cup last March, and he went to the start of today’s $100,000 race as a $69 outsider.

But rider Samantha Collett seized the initiative when there was a lack of early pace in the 2400-metre event, taking the lead with a lap to go.

After enjoying an easy run down the back straight, El Soldado began to quicken approaching the home turn and stole a march on his rivals, bringing memories of last March flooding back.

Megablast and Mister Impatience finished strongly in the straight and gave desperate chase, but El Soldado fought them off and held on by a neck.

“I’m happy with that, that’s amazing,” owner-trainer-breeder Phillip Devcich said. “Sam rode a great race. He just keeps going, that’s the way he runs.

“His work had definitely improved in the last couple of weeks, so I was hoping he’d go well. The Auckland Cup is definitely his target again. I think he might be a bit better this time than he was last year, especially after that win today.”

El Soldado has now had 74 starts for eight wins, 13 placings and just over $600,000 in prize-money.

“He’s such a tough old horse,” Collett said. “I was frustrated by the lack of pace, so i decided to go forward. I knew my horse was capable.

“They left me alone down the back straight, I was able to get away with some easy sectionals, and then he put a break on them. They tried to run him down but he’s tough and he was always going to see the distance out.”

The connections of Mister Impatience were delighted with the fast-finishing return to form by last year’s Wellington Cup winner and are looking forward to the extra 800 metres of the Gr. 1 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup on March 11.

“That was a huge run going into the Auckland Cup,” rider Sam Spratt said.

El Soldado is now rated a $21 chance for that event, with Chenille holding $7 favouritism despite finishing only seventh today. Mister Impatience has moved into $9, sharing second favouritism with Pentathlon. Fanatic and Five To Midnight are at $10, with Jacksstar, Savaria and Megablast all rated $12 chances.


Posted by: AT 05:50 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email