West Coast all class in Hawke’s Bay Steeplechase victory

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  • July 05, 2023
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Race favourite West Coast displayed all of his undoubted class over the fences when he made the AHD-Animal Health Hawke’s Bay Steeplechase (4800m) a one-horse affair in the final stages, winning under a hold by more than 16 lengths.

Rider Shaun Fannin bided his time in mid-field throughout as local runner Shackleton’s Edge set up the pace with stablemate Argyll, Izymydaad and Donardo in close attendance.

Fannin commenced his move on the Mark Oulaghan-trained runner with 1200m to run and steadily made up ground to be camped behind the pace before looming large on the outer turning for home.

With rider Buddy Lammas having parted company with Izymydaad at the fence in the home straight a lap earlier, runners were directed away from the last obstacle, paving the way for West Coast to race clear ahead of Tittletattle, who steadily closed on the leaders after being tailed off in the early running and a brave Argyll who stuck on gamely.

Oulaghan, who prepared West Cost to win the race in 2022, was pleased to see the way his charge settled during the running after advising Fannin he would like to see the horse ridden with a sit.

“We’re delighted with that result and it was good to see that he was so strong at the finish,” Oulaghan said.

“I had said to Shaun just to see if he could settle him and play a waiting game and he did the job perfectly.

“He’s a very versatile horse who is good on all track conditions and as we look forward with him, you want to see them finishing off like he did.”

Oulaghan will now assess how West Coast recovers from his exertions but has a pair of upcoming features in his sights.

“As long as he does well from here then I think we will go to Trentham for the Wellington Steeplechase (5500m) next,” he said.

“Safely through that then the Grand National Steeplechase (6300m) at Riccarton would be the next challenge.”

The Wellington Steeplechase is one of the feature events at Trentham on 15 July while the 148th Grand National Steeplechase will be contested at Riccarton on 12 August, a race that West Coast also took out in 2022.

The victory provided Fannin with a feature race double having won the Te Whangai Romneys Hawke’s Bay Hurdles (3100m) aboard the Kevin Myers-trained Happy Star earlier in the day.

The seven-year-old son of Fabulous never put a foot wrong as he dictated proceedings from in front throughout.

Fannin steadily increased the tempo with 1000m to run as Happy Star used his noted pace on the flat to streak away in he run home, winning under a hold by six lengths from stablemate Mizzena, who shaded The Mighty Spar for second with a strong run from well back on the home turn.

Fannin was full of praise for the performance.

“He gave me some ride in front as he has a very high cruising speed,” Fannin said.

“He jumps very well so it was effortless really.

“He’s a very intelligent horse and pretty much guides you with the speed he wants to go along at, gets in a nice rhythm and is a very easy ride.

“This is my home track and I had never won this race before, so it is nice to tick his off for sentimental reasons.

Happy Star, who has won six races on the flat and been placed third in both the Listed Anzac Mile (1600m) and Listed Rotorua Cup (2200m) during his current campaign, has now won four of his five starts over hurdles including the 2022 Grand National Hurdles (4200m) at Riccarton. –

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