A Gold Trail holds on for Railway Stakes victory
Reports: New Zealand, Friday
Ellerslie: Blandford Lodge Railway Stakes (Group 1) 6f, 3yo+
AUSTRALIAN raider Gold Trail lived up to his name in Friday's NZ$200,000 (£89,800/€101,000) Group 1 Blandford Lodge Railway Stakes at Ellerslie, blazinga trail away from his rivals to score an impressive front running victory.
Luck appeared to be against Gary Portelli's charge when the five-year-old drew the 17 barrier on the wide outside.
However the son of Hussonet broke well and charged to the head of affairs just yards from the barrier, remaining there throughout.
Under a cool ride from Australian jockey Michael Rodd the gelding took an easy lead and looked on track for an easy victory halfway down the home stretch.
However, Rodd's compatriot Hugh Bowman set his mount Atapi alight a furlong from home and the eight-year-old responded in stunning style, cutting down Gold Trail's lead with every stride.
Gold Trail held on to the line, scoring by a short neck, but Atapi was in command a stride past the post. Richard Beymer was over three lengths back in third.
"It's always a trouble at 1200m for him, so I was just glad it wasn't another stride," Portelli said. "We just had a perfect preparation. He travelled over really well and the horse was right."
Gold Trail, sent off at a shade under 6-1, had not been seen in action since October 3rd when he triumphed at Randwick in the Group 2 Shorts Handicap, and has been campaigned this season at the highest level in Australia over the minimum trip.
However, Portelli added that a tilt at the NZ$1m Group 1 Trentham Handicap over 6f was next on the cards for his charge, who will remain in New Zealand to prepare for his next assignment.
Also on Friday
Ellerslie: Rich Hill Mile (Group 2) 1m, 3yo+
La Etoile proved the star of an illustrious cast of older campaigners in the Group 2 Rich Hill Mile, scoring a dramatic last-gasp victory.
The ultra-consistent Mill Duckie looked to have victory assured when hitting the front with half a furlong to run, but the Roger James and Paul Mirabelli-trained La Etoile, under Craig Grylls, had already launched her run from the middle of the pack.
In sixth place with just 50m to run, the four-year-old daughter of Thorn Park, who returned at just under 12-1, charged between runners and dived late at the line to score by a long head, with Panama at nose back in third in a bunched finish for the NZ$100,000 (£45,000/€50,000) contest.
The race was marred by controversy at the start when the favourite Run Like Al was withdrawn after appearing to become fractious in the barrier.
Television cameras clearly showed jockey Sam Spratt's frustration at the enforced withdrawal and many punters were in accord.
Ellerslie: New Zealand Bloodstock Royal Stakes (Group 2) 1m2f 3yo fillies
A WEEK after defeat at the hands of the stellar filly Katie Lee, the Stephen McKee-trained Adaline turned the tables on her rival, defeating her by half a length in the Group 2 Royal Stakes at odds of 3-1.
The NZ$100,000 (£45,000/€50,000) contest represented a first step up to 1m2f for the principal players who have fought out the classic contests of the season to date.
Adaline has been steadily on the upgrade since breaking her maiden in October, and the daughter of Court Of Jewels confirmed her class when sent to the lead a furlong from home.
Katie Lee, in the rear in the early stages, flashed home late in her trademark style but could not quite get to Adaline, partnered by Leith Innes at his tactical best.