Racing: Rank outside claims Auckland Cup

By Mike Dillon

El Soldado wins the Auckland Cup on Saturday. Photo / Trish Dunell
El Soldado wins the Auckland Cup on Saturday. Photo / Trish Dunell

Just when you thought the protest in the group 1 Bonecrusher Stakes couldn't be topped, out came veteran El Soldado in the $500,000 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup 40 minutes later and won at $125 to win.

It topped a startling day at Ellerslie when the $2.40 favourite Xiong Feng took virtually no part in the $200,000 Sistema Diamond Stakes, tailing the field by 200m.

El Soldado, apart from being a 9-year-old, has gone around as a hurdler, not the type you'd expect to be disposing of an Auckland Cup field quite easily.

Asked what he thought of his chances going into the race, winning rider Darryl Bradley, said, honestly, "Not great."

Asked afterwards, Bradley said: "My emotions are going haywire."

Bradley took Soldado to the front with a lap to run. He tactically moved away from the pack with additional speed at the 800m and put a break on the others.

It was the winning move. Turning into the home straight it was obvious that El Soldado, a stayer more than a top class, had almost a winning break and so it proved.

Rose Of Virginia ran on strongly to get close, but was never going to win and warm favourite Sacred Master fought well for third, but the others were not close.

Volkstok'n'barrell won the $200,000 Bonecrusher Stakes, but had to survive an obvious protest from the connections of second placed Girl Of My Dreams, who had finished a nose behind in second.

The evidence the JCA went with to make the decision to leave the result as it was came down to the fact third-placed Consensus had been checked by Girl Of My Dreams when she moved in halfway down the home straight. The Volkstok'n'barrell case evidence, including the vastly exprerienced part owner, came from retired trainer Jim Gibbs, and the co-trainers of the favourite Chris Gibbs and Donna Logan.

Class colt Heroic Valour proved too strong for the talented opposition in the $200,000 Sistema Diamond Stakes, carrying a grateful rider Jonathan Riddell.

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