Wotabuzz on track for Grand National
Impressive jumping winners Wotabuzz and Roodyvoo both shunted their names into the spotlight for major assignments this week with victories on Saturday.
Wotabuzz, an eight-length winner of the Sydenham Hurdles, hails from the all-conquering barn of Awapuni jumping trainer Mark Oulaghan and showed all the usual traits of a Oulaghan runner after a daring ride from young Hayley Curran.
Curran wasted no time on Wotabuzz, surging to the lead and developing a 25-length buffer on the rest of the field.
The margin stayed that way for much of the race, but when it looked like Curran might be in trouble, Wotabuzz found another kick after the last fence and ran away to win impressively.
“He's a very good horse," Oulaghan said.
“An efficient jumper, who loves to leap and then get back on the flat and run along.
“I did tell Hayley to go to the front, but maybe not by that much. The horse is tough and I knew he would keep fighting though."
Oulaghan clocked his third Sydenham Hurdles victory with Wotabuzz who followed in the footsteps of former stablemates Yourtheman (2008) and and Tommy Lad (1999).
Wotabuzz will now join 11 other jumpers in the 123rd Grand National Hurdles on Wednesday.
Saturday's second jumping feature, the Koral Steeplechase, fell to the Kevin Myers-trained Roodyvoo who turned around a bad half hour for the North Island trainer and jockey Isaac Lupton.
The pair combined a race earlier with hot favourite Malachite in the maiden steeple, but were wiped out when looking comfortable by a riderless horse as the field went into the back straight.
They gained redemption though when Roodyvoo, who has recently returned from Australia, outstayed his opponents to win and firm into favouritism for the Grand National Steeplechase on Saturday.
Old boy Ho Down made the eye-catching run of the race, rounding out the final furlong in fine fashion to finish a close second.