West Coast takes first day jumping honours at Riccarton

West Coast (inner) clears a fence on his way to victory at Riccarton - Photo credit: Race Images South
West Coast (inner) clears a fence on his way to victory at Riccarton

Photo credit: Race Images South

Promising steeplechaser West Coast looks to have attained the favourite’s tag for next Saturday’s Racecourse Hotel & Motor Lodge 147th Grand National Steeplechase (5600m) with a dashing display to take out the traditional lead-up event at Riccarton on Saturday.

Facing just three rivals in the Racecourse Hotel & Motor Lodge Koral Steeplechase (4250m), the Mark Oulaghan-trained seven-year-old put in a proficient display in the hands of Shaun Fannin to defeat last start Te Rapa winner Carnaby by seven lengths.

After leading in the early stages of the contest, Fannin was happy to take a trail behind Carnaby before issuing his challenge at the top of the Riccarton straight where he took control of the race in the final stages.

Oulaghan had been a little unsure if his charge had the requisite fitness under his belt to win the race after a month away from the races but was clearly pleased with the effort.

“I was pleasantly surprised as with the preparation he has had I wasn’t sure whether he could do that, but he was quite good,” he said.

“Down the back I thought Carnaby was going quite well and he is conditioned up and fit and not a bad galloper, but this horse picked him up so it was a nice effort.

“He will push on to the big one next Saturday and he should improve with that one under his belt.”

The victory registered as Oulaghan’s seventh in the race but was just the second for Fannin after he had piloted the Kevin Myers-trained The Big Opal to win in 2017.

“Ideally I had wanted to take a sit and I was happy to trail Carnaby when he took over,” Fannin said.

“I was pretty happy when we ranged up at the second last fence, but the horse was doing a fair bit wrong so he will take a lot of confidence out of the run for next week.

“He has shown plenty throughout the season and I know Mark had targeted this carnival with him, so it his time to win a big race like the National as he will stay all day."

Bred by Letham Stud, West Coast is by Metro En Jeu out of the Grosvenor mare Testament. - NZ Racing Desk


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