West Coast takes testing Trentham feature

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  • July 18, 2023
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A perfectly judged ride by Shaun Fannin helped pave the way for West Coast to add another feature steeplechasing event to his blossoming career record when the pair took out the Grant Plumbing Wellington Steeplechase (5500m) at Trentham.

In an exciting display of jumping set up by tearaway pacemaker Izymydaad, Fannin and second favourite West Coast ($2.50) sat back in the field of six as they covered all the moves of topweight and race favourite The Cossack ($2).

With 1000m to run Izymydaad started to come back to field after leading by more than 100m during the middle stages as Donardo, Argyll and the favoured pair began to hunt him down.

In what proved to be the pivotal moment of the race Argyll fell at the second last fence, checking stablemate The Cossack which allowed West Coast to get a crucial break on his rival as Fannin urged him into contention.

Izymydaad and West Coast cleared the last together with the latter proving too strong in the shadows of the post to record his sixth career victory for trainer Mark Oulaghan, with The Cossack picking himself up again to finish an unlucky third.

“He toughed it out very well and I thought it was a good, brave win,” Oulaghan said.

“The ground out there was very gluey and was anchoring them a fair bit, but he got in a good rhythm and picked his fences well.

“I guess we got the rub of the green a little when The Cossack copped his check as it looked like he was going to be right in it.

“As long as he pulls up well he will head down to Riccarton to defend his Grand National crown as he likes the big fences down there as he showed last year.”

The 148th Racecourse & Motor Lodge Grand National Steeplechase (5600m) is one of the main jumping features at Riccarton on August 12.

In a tragic aftermath to the race, it was confirmed that Argyll had suffered a suspected fatal heart attack that caused his fall with rider Emily Farr shaken but unhurt in the incident.

The victory took West Coast’s career record to six wins from 26 starts and over $216,000 in prizemoney.

Earlier in the day it was survival of the fittest in the closing stages of the Hydra-Cell Pumps Ltd Wellington Hurdle (3400m) as tough as teak galloper Suliman took out the feature in a gruelling finish.

The nine-year-old son of Redwood went into the race after finishing fourth in the Hawke’s Bay Hurdles (3100m) on his home track for trainers Paul Nelson and Corrina McDougal who also produced the race favourite in stablemate Nedwin who was sent out at $2.20 on the tote.

Nedwin set up the speed and looked to be travelling comfortably before misjudging a fence nearing the 1000m mark and falling in front of the field.

That left third favourite Berry The Cash ($5.30) in front, however he bungled the fence at the top of the home straight and dropped rider Portia Matthews which paved the way for Suliman to establish a winning break with two fences to clear.

In what looked like a slow-motion replay, Suliman climbed over the final obstacle and plugged to the line to defeat Carnaby and Hurry Cane who chased valiantly in the final stages.

McDougal was left to ponder what might have been if Nedwin had not taken a tumble.

“I guess that is the highs and lows of racing,” she said.

“We were expecting a decent scrap between our pair as they had worked well during the week and like racing at Trentham.

“I think he (Nedwin) may have just tried to put in a big leap and clipped the top of the fence. He has come back in with mud all over his head and a little stiff but is probably more embarrassed than anything else.

“In saying that Suliman was very good and showed some pretty nifty footwork to avoid both falls.

“When everything fell he got a bit lost as he had his ears pricked, but he got the job done in the end.

Suliman started his career with Matamata trainer Graham Richardson where he won five of his first 33 starts before transferring to Nelson and McDougal in 2021. He has now recorded a further five victories including the 2021 Taumarunui Gold Cup (2200m) and the 2023 Awapuni Hurdle (2800m) for prizemoney in excess of $262,000.

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