Mark Oulaghan completed six of the best when he produced a valiant Upper Cut to successfully defend his Grand National Steeplechase title.

The Awapuni trainer had previously won the Riccarton event with Counter Punch (2010, 2011) and Deecee Seven (1997, 1998) and he took yesterday's success in the Racecourse Hotel & Motor Lodge-sponsored feature in typically humble fashion.

"I've got to say we've been lucky and, as you know, luck goes a long way in racing," Oulaghan said.

"He's been a little behind all winter and the run on the first day did improve him."


Fourth in the Koral Steeplechase, Upper Cut was patiently handled behind the pace by Shaun Phelan and when the pressure went on 800 metres from home they began to get serious.

The 11-year-old took the final fence on terms with Kina Win and he finished on too well to take the honours by a length and a quarter.

Upper Cut's rider Shaun Phelan paid tribute to Oulaghan's conditioning skills after the event.

"He's a genius. I sat there and enjoyed the ride, the horse did it all," he said.

Koral placegetters Kina Win and Tai Ho again finished second and third respectively ahead of Chocolate Fish and favourite The Big Opal.

Opal had an easy run in front, but was under pressure a fair way out and failed to see out the gruelling 5600 metres.

- NZ Racing Desk