From the Commentary Box – Monday, 16th February 2015

Local gallopers cleaned up at Ellerslie last Saturday. The two feature races on the card, the Group Two Avondale Guineas and Avondale Cup were both won by Cambridge trained runners. That wasn’t the end of it as far as local success was concerned though, with no fewer than six winners recorded on the nine race card.

Leading the charge yet again was the Baker / Forsman team with exciting three year old Mongolian Khan taking out the Avondale Guineas. Superbly ridden again by Opie Bosson, Mongolian Khan dominated his rivals eventually winning by nearly two lengths. Backing up from his last start fresh up win in the Waikato Guineas a fortnight ago, Mongolian Khan proved too strong for Prima and the highly touted Volkstok’n’barrell. Co trainer Murray Baker declared all systems go for the $750,000 TV3 NZ Derby in two weeks time. “We’ve got a horse who is right in form and he’ll stay too” said Baker. Jockey Opie Bosson was also taken by the win. “He never stops trying this horse and he’ll be a great ride in the Derby” said Bosson.

The win elevated Mongolian Khan to outright favouritism for the Derby ahead of long time favourite Volkstok’n’barrell. Although beaten into third place, Volkstok’n’barrell still went a huge race, finishing strongly from well back in the field.

I believe Mongolian Khan and Volkstok’n’barrell will fight out the Derby with possibly the filly Vavasour a danger.

The Tim and Margaret Carter team enjoyed Avondale Cup success with the vastly improved Farm Boy scoring narrowly for Vinny Colgan.   A heady ride by Colgan saw Farm Boy hold off the late charging King Kamada and Rock Diva.   Close up in fourth spot was another local, El Soldado.

Co trainer Margaret Carter was almost overwhelmed by the success. “That was just so thrilling to watch” said Carter. “This horse continues to improve and when you consider Vinny said he was over racing most of the way, it was a huge effort” said Carter. Whilst the minor placegetters will head towards the Auckland Cup in two weeks time, Carter ruled out a tilt with Farm Boy. “He wasn’t nominated and the late nominations closed this week” said Carter. “The way he over raced though probably tells us he’s not quite ready for two miles, but I’m sure he’ll get there eventually” added Carter.

Also successful at Ellerslie on Saturday were Dresden Park, Poetical, Imperial Hawk and Our Pink Diamond. The Jeff McVean and Emma Lee Browne partnership produced Dresden Park to win over 1200m. The Thorn Park mare was recording her fourth win at Ellerslie in the hands of apprentice Lee Magorrian. Poetical gained some compensation for an unlucky last start effort, when winning over 1400m. Trained by Chris McNab, Poetical sat outside the leader before gaining the upper hand over the final stages. Imperial Hawk was the second winner for the Baker Forsman team on the day. She bolted away from her opposition over 2100m eventually winning by five and a half lengths. Imperial Hawk is shaping as a promising staying type. Todd “The Wizard” Mitchell produced Our Pink Diamond to complete the Cambridge successes at Ellerslie on Saturday. Our Pink Diamond prevailed by the barest of margins for Trudy Thornton, beating the Southern visitor, Lakota.

The local run of success wasn’t just confined to Ellerslie last Saturday. Chenille and Thee Auld Floozie both signalled their NZ Oaks aspirations when winning at New Plymouth on Saturday.

Chenille trained by Tony Pike, bolted in in lesser company while the Stephen Marsh trained Thee Auld Floozie held out race favourite Savaria in the Oaks Prelude. Both should be followed closely.

All in all, a great day at the office last Saturday.

I’ll catch you next week.