Wellington considered for El Marino

A trip to Trentham could be on the cards for Cambridge jumper El Marino after his return to top form at Te Aroha today.

Trainer and part-owner Peter Stewart is toying with the idea of a tilt at the $50,000 Wellington Hurdles (3400m) on July 14, but won’t be rushing into a decision. “I’ll think it over for a while,” said Stewart. “It’s a good race to go for, but I just don’t know whether he’s up to it. He’s not a good traveller.”

However, after watching El Marino’s display in the Karl Davis Bayleys Real Estate 3100 Hurdles at the Te Aroha meeting it would be hard to say he would not give his rivals a shake in the Prestige Jumping Race.

He was ridden a treat in front by Matthew Gillies and bowled along at his own pace with his ears pricked. Gillies gave him a breather approaching the home turn and Grabbit moved up to be a serious challenger, but then when asked to go again El Marino quickly put the issue beyond doubt.

Over the concluding stages of the 3100-metre event El Marino drew clear of Grabbit to win by three and a half lengths, while the Ann Browne-trained and owned Big Brownie ran on nicely for third.

El Marino has now won 10 races with six of them being since prepared by Stewart, who has developed him into a promising jumper with a record of two wins and three placings from seven starts. El Marino’s first win was from the stable of Chris McNab, then he won a couple for Waverley trainer Robbie Patterson and one for Cambridge horseman Paul Duncan.

El Marino picked up two hurdle placings last month, but then disappointed when second-last in the K.S. Browne Memorial Hurdles at Ellerslie on June 4.

“I blame myself for that failure,” said Stewart. “I sold him short in his work and he hit one fence behind. I thought he’d go a lot better this time.”