New Zealand news briefs

El Vencedor signs off in style

El Vencedor has added to the family’s Queensland roll of honour and will return home for a deserved break following a commanding performance to win at Doomben.

The Stephen Marsh-trained three-year-old signed off his first Australian tour of duty with an effortless victory over 1200m on Wednesday.

El Vencedor is owned by Wellingtonians Mark Freeman and David Price, who also bred and raced his well-performed brother Chocante.

The son of Shocking won five races from Marsh’s Cambridge quarters with his career highlight a 2017 success in the Gr.2 Doomben Cup and also subsequently placed in the Gr.1 The Metropolitan (2400m) at Randwick.

Marsh confirmed that El Vencedor would now be on the first plane home while stablemate Chakana will make one further appearance in Queensland before returning to New Zealand.

“It was a nice race for him and we thought he would run well and it was very pleasant to see,” he said.

The gelding had been unplaced in his first two runs at Eagle Farm before warming to his task and had finished runner-up at Doomben before a successful return visit.

“He just raced a bit fiercely in his first couple of starts there and then settled a bit better, his racing manners aren’t quite 100 percent yet,” Marsh said.

“It was nice to see him go out with a win and he’ll come home now for a little break and then be set for some nice races, I don’t know what just yet, toward the back end of the spring before the tracks get too firm.”

El Vencedor is out of the O’Reilly mare Strictly Maternal, but unlike his sibling Chocante, and his Hong Kong Derby-winning half-brother Sky Darci, has showed an affinity for short course racing.

“Right from the early days he showed a lot of natural speed and I thought he would get over a bit of ground, but I don’t think he will,” Marsh said.

“He might get a mile in time, but he’s still a bit keen in the running so 1200 to 1400m suits him best.”

Barnmate Chakana placed at the Sunshine Coast and at Doomben for rider Jim Byrne before the daughter of Reliable Man came from well back in the running to finish fourth under Anthony Allen in last Saturday’s Listed Ipswich Cup (2150m).

“I thought her run was terrific and she’ll run again in nine days’ time in the Caloundra Cup (Listed, 2400m),” Marsh said. “She’s in a very good spot and will come home after that.

“The step up in trip and the bigger track will be ideal for her and Jim Byrne was very quick to get on the phone and confirm he wanted to get back on the mare.”

Marsh has a number of domestic runners in the coming days and, while admitting he had no standouts, leaned toward Oseleta as his best chance.

A half-sister by Deep Field to the Gr.3 Manawatu Classic (2000m) winner Valpolicella, Oseleta goes into the Zest Handicap (1200m) at Tauranga on Saturday off the back of a last-start sixth at Avondale.

“I think she can bounce back to form. She’s going well and she has run very well at the venue before,” Marsh said.

Bargain buy Original Gangster primed for Amberley Cup

Lyn Prendergast still can't believe the bargain she got when she outlaid $4000 for two-race winner Original Gangster on

The West Melton trainer bought the Road To Rock gelding through the online auction website, promptly leased him to a large group of stable clients then set about winning her purchase price back.

Original Gangster has done far more than that, banking more than $155,000 in stakes in the 18 months since Prendergast bought him, nearly 40 times what she paid for him.

"He's turned out to be a real bargain. It was just two days before Christmas and I guess everyone else had other things on their mind and I was able to snaffle him cheaply," Prendergast said.

Original Gangster has gone on to win six races for Prendergast, including the Banks Peninsula Cup (1800m) and Founders Cup (2000m) at Riccarton already this preparation.

He warmed up for Saturday's Greenwood Amberley Cup (1600m) with a smart 2 1/4-length win under 60kg in a 1600m open handicap on the Riccarton polytrack earlier this month.

"He was really good last time. He didn't have much speed early. He dropped back which was a bit of a surprise but I was really thrilled with the way he finished off under that big weight," Prendergast said.

"He just loves racing. Where we are at West Melton, we've got 24 acres and we put him out in the daytime and he just loves that. He freshens up really well after each run.

"We're really happy with him going into this one. He's hardly lost an ounce in condition. He's just an evergreen and I can't fault him. He's like a good wine and just keeps improving with age."

Original Gangster has 61.5kg for Saturday's Riccarton feature in which regular rider Kylie Williams takes the mount.

The combination of a big weight and a potentially sticky track giving has tempered Prendergast's confidence heading into the race.

"We'll just leave it in Kylie's hands and see what happens. That track will be sticky with no more rain coming and the weight is a bit of a worry; it really is," she said.

"He's got a Winter Cup nomination so we'll just see how he's going over the next few weeks."

Prendergast has three other runners at Riccarton on Saturday, with Ihu tackling the Smiths Hire Handicap (1200m), while last-start Waimate Cup (2200m) runner-up Miss Tavi and Red Rufus race on the undercard.

"Ihu has had two runs down the chute for me and he's done everything wrong. Kylie knows him a bit better now so that helps," Prendergast said.

"I was a bit reluctant to run him down the chute again but if he can clear the gates, he should be fine. Both times he's either got back or missed the kick so he goes in last now and that has helped.

"Being a mudder we weren't sure how he'd adapt to the all-weather track but he won really well on that last time. It's a good field on Saturday but I'm really happy with him and if he can get to the front, he's hard to get past.

"I'm really pleased with Miss Tavi. Another stride and she might have won the Waimate Cup last time and she doesn't mind these type of conditions. And Red Rufus, he's an unknown on this type of ground. He's been running well on the all-weather but we'll just see how he goes on Saturday."