Veteran on target for another Auckland Cup

Phillip Devcich and his Auckland Cup hero El Soldado.

Phillip Devcich and his Auckland Cup hero El Soldado.

Cambridge stayer El Soldado is on target for what could be a remarkable defence of a Group One title.

The veteran produced the shock of last season when he won the Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup at odds of 125-1 and his trainer and part-owner Phillip Devcich has high hopes for Ellerslie again.

“I think he’s probably better now than he was last year,” he said.

El Soldado will make the fourth appearance of his current campaign in Saturday’s SVS Hamilton Cup off the back of a much-improved effort for fourth in an open handicap at Ellerslie.

The gelding had been unplaced when resuming then finished at the tail of the field in the Gr.3 City of Auckland Cup.

“I’m pretty happy with him and it was good to see him run well last time out,” said Devcich. “He’s come through it really well, he loves racing and he’s getting fitter.”

El Soldado will be ridden by Craig Grylls, who has a good record on the 10-year-old with three wins, including the Te Aroha Cup, and six placings from 14 rides.

“As long as he runs well, he’ll go to the Avondale Cup and if he needs another run before the Auckland Cup there’s a race at Matamata a week after Avondale,” said Devcich.

“He might be a 10-year-old, but we’ll have another crack at it.”

– NZ Racing Desk.