Relative outsider Banbury Lad produced a career highlight when he upset the favoured contenders in the main event on the card at Ellerslie, the Harold Plumley Memorial Mitchelson Cup yesterday.
In a disappointingly small field for one of Ellerslie's time-honoured spring staying features, the Rudy Liefting trained seven-year-old left no excuses for the beaten brigade as he cleared out in the home straight to score by five lengths. Race favourite Stokers Rock, who was the subject of some inspired support prior to race start time, chased gamely to finish second with last weekend's Pukekohe winner, Arite Guru finishing third.
Liefting, who took over the horse's training three starts ago from original mentor and breeder John Graham, was delighted with the performance of his charge in a race he had won previously in 2001 with Chiavenna.
"I'm just rapt as I've won this race before but it was such a long time ago it was a group race back then," he said.
"It's a good race, although it's obviously a bit weaker this year, so I thought it was a good opportunity to have a go with this horse.
"He's measured up to open company before with John Graham, who offered him to me as a jumper. He told me he wasn't finished on the flat and I just had to get him right.
Liefting saddles up the well favoured Just Got Home in today's Bayleys Waikato Hunt Cup Steeplechase at Te Aroha.
- NZ Racing Desk