More New Year’s Day appointments

After racing at Te Rapa last Saturday Graham Thomas and Paul Mirabelli have even more to look forward to at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.

The Cambridge training partners will run last-start winner Mangaroa Mini in a $20,000 Special Conditions Maiden and now the promising galloper will be joined by her stablemates El Soldado and Mangaroa Molly, who will both contest the $75,000 Dunstan Feeds Championship Final (2200m) on the
same day.

El Soldado took a tougher road than most horses to earn a crack at the Final when contesting last Saturday’s Bloxam Burnett and Olliver 2100 Open Handicap. Being at a rating of 68, El Soldado was eligible for the Rating 75 event on the day, but instead he took on the likes of multiple Group One winner Sir Slick.

“We only went for the open race because we couldn’t get a suitable jockey for the Rating 75,” said Thomas. “Craig (Grylls) couldn’t ride him in the Rating 75 then we had Mark Sweeney, but when he was so well down the list in the noms we said to get another ride rather than wait and miss out altogether.”

Grylls was able to ride El Soldado in the open handicap and he handled the Colombia gelding a treat, keeping close tabs on the pacemaker Sir Slick and taking over early in the run home. El Soldado then kicked on strongly to hold on for a decisive two-length victory, while fellow Cambridge galloper Desperaux ran on to deadheat for second with Sir Slick.

“He just keeps going and can’t quicken,” said Thomas. “It wasn’t a top field and the big thing with him is that he takes many of the problems out of the race by being able to race handy.”

El Soldado has now won three of his 13 starts and been placed on a further seven occasions with the latest victory taking his stake earnings to almost $40,000.

“It was the last throw of the dice to get in the Dunstan Final and it worked out well,” said Thomas.

Thomas and Mirabelli then switched their attention to the last race on the programme, the Dunstan Feeds Championship Qualifier and their hope Mangaroa Molly.

Mangaroa Molly had been runner-up to Green Supreme at Ellerslie late last month and again she chased home the Matamata-trained galloper, finishing third with Payback splitting the pair. “She hung on well,” said Thomas. “Green Supreme is going to be hard to beat in the Final, but she’s made it into the race and she’s a chance.”

Thomas is very pleased with the way the stable is performing this season, last Saturday’s win being its seventh for the season and taking the prizemoney tally to $62,000. “Last season we had 14 seconds and the seven wins,” he said. “It was frustrating with all those placings.”

As well as the 14 seconds, the stable also picked up 14 thirds last term and along with the wins the stakes tally stood at $76,058.

The stable has lost the promising Mangaroa Flyer through a sale, but Thomas reports Marching On is on the way back to her best. She showed a lot of ability early last campaign. “We’ve got some nice horses to work with,” said Thomas. “It’s all going well.”