El Soldado chasing third win in Te Rapa race

Cambridge owner-trainer Phillip Devcich has bigger missions for El Soldado than tomorrow’s open staying race at Te Rapa, but he would be thrilled to pick the event up along the way.

El Soldaro will start in the $25,000 White Bros Panelworks & Truck Steering Services 2100, the corresponding event he has won over the last two years. In 2011 he beat Despereaux and the mighty warrior Sir Slick in the race and last year he led home Grand Admiral and Chaparrone, who will again be rivals tomorrow.

The form from last year’s race stacked up well as El Soldado and Chaparrone went on to finish second and third respectively in the Gr. 2 City Of Auckland Cup and the Gr.1 Barfoot and Thompson Auckland Cup. They clashed in one other race between times, the Gr. 2 Cardinal Logistics Avondale Cup, and on that occasion Chaparrone turned the tables on El Soldado when the pair finished third and seventh.

El Soldado also came out on top in his one clash with Grand Admiral after beating him at Te Rapa. That was when finishing fourth, one placing ahead of Grand Admiral in the Listed Marks Ewen & Associates Kaimai Stakes at Matamata last February. Grand Admiral was third in the Dunstan Feeds Championship Final and has twice been a winner this year.

Devcich has purposely given El Soldado only one run so far this campaign, in the Gr. 3 Eagle Technology Stakes (1600m), in which he finished second-last, plus an earlier trial in which the horse finished third at Cambridge.

“He wasn’t ready to run in the Waikato Cup this time,” said Devcich. “Waiting the extra week has been better for him. He’s very well and he’s twice as strong as he was last year.

“He’s also working a lot better with the Norton bit on and the blinkers off. He’s ready to go a good race.”

Devcich plans to follow a similar path as last season with El Soldado, pressing on from tomorrow’s race with a tilt at the Gr. 2 $100,000 Scot Thrust City Of Auckland Cup on New Year’s Day then the Avondale and Auckland Cups.