El Vencedor causes massive upset in Bonecrusher Stakes

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  • March 11, 2024
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Kevin Robertson, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

An inch perfect front running ride by Irishman Joe Doyle paved the way for outsider El Vencedor to upset the applecart in the Gr.1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie.

Despite a consistent form-line with a win and three placings along with a last-start fourth in the Gr.1 Otaki-Māori Weight For Age Classic (1600m), the five-year-old son of Shocking was overlooked by punters as he closed at $21 on the Fixed Odds market.

All the smart money was on class four-year-old mare Legarto ($1.20) who had taken out the Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at her last start. Those investments looked well placed early in the piece as Ryan Elliot settled her beautifully in third as she stalked El Vencedor and Doyle, who set up a tidy pace in front.

Approaching the home corner, it was evident that El Vencedor was travelling sweetly in his first start beyond 1600m, however Legarto had him in her sights as she switched off the rail and set out to bridge the three-length margin the leader had established with 300m to run.

Despite making ground steadily, Legarto couldn’t pull back El Vencedor who kicked strongly for Doyle and powered to the line to win by half a length with Ladies Man finishing resolutely for third, albeit four lengths in arrears of the first two.

Trainer Stephen Marsh, who had two races earlier taken out the Gr.1 Sistema Stakes (1200m) with Velocious, was a little lost for words as he contemplated what his charge had just achieved.

“Legarto is such a great mare and you never take her cheaply, but I loved the way he got to the front under a bit of pressure then got a couple of cheap sectionals,” Marsh said.

“He was galloping beautifully in front and coming into the straight I saw Legarto come off the bridle just as we were starting to climb into it.

“I thought geez we could be a chance here, and he kicked well and galloped nice and true which was beautiful to see.

“He has got better and better with each run, and this is great for his breeders and owners Mark Freeman and David Price as they own the mare, and it is just awesome all around.

“Two Group Ones in a day is just surreal.”

Doyle wore a massive smile as he accepted congratulations for his performance on the brave winner.

“That is just fantastic, and this is a race with a lot of history,” he said.

“Stephen’s horse (El Vencedor) was so tenacious, and I’m absolutely thrilled.

“We agreed before the race that the only chance we had was if we could get relaxed in front, so I let him slide forward and when we hit the rise, I let him fill his lungs and he was as tough as anything and got me home.”

Freeman and Price bred the gelding from their O’Reilly mare Strictly Maternal and he is the younger brother of their Gr.2 Brisbane Cup (2200m) winner Chocante, while he is also a half-brother to Hong Kong Derby winner Sky Darci.

The win took his career earnings beyond the $636,000 mark with seven wins and thirteen placings from 31 starts.

Runner-up Legarto also significantly boosted her career earnings with the runner-up cheque of $83,250, added to a whopping $500,000 bonus as the inaugural winner of the $650,000 summer series that was introduced this year by Entain Australia and New Zealand in association with New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing.

The series ran across four races between January and March, rewarding the series winner with a $500,000 bonus for accumulating the most points from contesting either the Gr.1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham on January 20, or $1 million Aotearoa Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie on January 27.

Having finished runner-up in the Aotearoa Classic before taking out the third leg of the series, the Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa last month, Legarto went into the decider as a clear series leader with 20.5 points and her runner-up finish saw her collect the lion’s share of a much sought after prize.

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