Battle weary galloper pulls off coup

MATT MARKHAM
Last updated 05:00 27/01/2014

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The battle weary legs of Canterbury galloper El Chico pulled off another major coup on Saturday when the nine-year-old gelding took out the listed $50,000 Timaru Stakes at Ashburton.

In what was his 95th career start, the Michael Pitman-trained runner showed an enthusiasm and energy suited to an early two-year-old as he took plenty of ground off Paraketo inside the final 200m of the 1400m event to win the 20th race of his wonderful career.

The result was Pitman at his ultimate best, and just further underlined why the Riccarton horseman is one of the best in the business.

After winning the Timaru Cup late last year, Pitman next took his seemingly ageless star north where he ran a more than creditable fourth behind Abidewithme and Arietta in the Anniversary Handicap at Trentham over 1600m - seven days prior to Saturday's effort.

''He doesn't know how old he is,'' winning jockey Jamie Bullard said.

''When he got clear he really flattened out quickly and found the line, at the end he was doing it quite easy.''

It was Bullard's fifth victory aboard the son of Stravinsky who is owned by Pitman along with Evelyn and John Carran.

With stake earnings of close to $500,000, the career of El Chico has already been a highly successful one, but only the brave would bet against Pitman not being able to extract some more out of the galloper.

Pitman was also to the fore at Trentham on Saturday where The Governator made it two wins for the week with success in the  first race of the day.

Up and coming mare Black Stockings showed a similar blistering turn of foot to El Chico to win Saturday's second feature, the Dunedin Gold Cup Trial, for trainer Stephen Woodsford and jockey Jamie Bates.

A winner of five of her 19 starts, the five-year-old daughter of Painted Black ran down a game Captain Todd inside the final 100m to claim victory.

''With that sort of speed, and her ability to relax, she's going to go a long way,'' Bates said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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