Racing: Where the tough get going for Amanood Lad

By Mike Dillon

The Wellington Steeplechase tends to end in wet cement and Amanood Lad has 70.5kg topweight.
Amanood Lad will be ridden again by Australian Steve Pateman. Photo / Trish Dunell
Amanood Lad will be ridden again by Australian Steve Pateman. Photo / Trish Dunell

Each year the Wellington Steeplechase is a contradiction. Close to 95 per cent of the race is run on pretty much excellent footing in the middle of Trentham and it ends with 400m of the course proper which is so deep and heavy only the toughest and fittest can get their hooves out of it.

Wet cement is not a bad analogy.

So where does that leave one of our true jumping stars, Amanood Lad, topweight for tomorrow's $75,000 Grant Plumbing Wellington Steeplechase?

This will be the topliner's first look at Trentham, the reason for this appearance going back nearly 12 months.

Trainer Ben Foote was disappointed last winter when Amanood Lad went into the big one, Ellerslie's Great Northern, with what he considered to be a gallop or two short.

"He missed a run on the flat when they called the Matamata races off.

"I have never considered running here at Trentham, but he's here in case something else goes wrong this time." The unusual combination of footing?

"I think it might suit him. I don't believe he really likes those particularly deep, wet tracks.

"He will be in a lovely spot behind the speed for most of the race and we'll have to see what happens when he hits the last 400m, it will tell how fit he is."

Amanood Lad will be ridden again by Australia's Steve Pateman who, like his mount, has little experience of the track, but he is one of the great jumps jockeys of the past two decades.

Amanood Lad has 70.5kg topweight, which makes him potentially vulnerable late in the race to lightweights such as Crash Bandicoot with 65kg. Crash Bandicoot has been in magnificent improver's form and could end up one of the stars of the winter despite his relative inexperience.

The $75,000 Wellington Hurdles looks set up for topweight Just Got Home. He won this race two years ago despite bashing a hurdle at the 1000m and missed it last year because of an Australian campaign. He doesn't appear to be that badly off under his weight considering he won the Hawke's Bay Hurdles last start.

As much as it was officially a Slow 9 that day, it was way short of the wet cement that suits Just Got Home.

A start in the Foxbridge Plate is not beyond the realms of possibility for emerging sprinter Belial, who steps out at his favourite track today.

The Steven Cole-trained Domesday five-year-old gelding has won four of his 17 starts and will relish the drop back from open company to the AJC On Facebook Rating 75 1200 at Avondale.

Belial went too fast early at Ruakaka and faded late, but Cole was satisfied with the run and upbeat about his chances at Avondale.

Te Rapa tips

Better placed this time: Eletist, R4, Te Rapa. Struck a very testing track when resuming. Conditions suit better here.

Overdue: Passivity, R2, Te Rapa. Run down after looking the winner last start. A win is close.

Should be too good again: Mr Luigi, R7 Te Rapa. Has more class that most mud runners. Should be winning.

- Additional reporting NZ Racing Desk

- NZ Herald

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