New Zealand trainer Stephen Marsh is looking forward to a Queensland winter campaign with smart three-year-old El Vencedor after the son of Rich Hill Stud stallion Shocking made it back-to-back victories with a win over 1400m at Pukekohe on Saturday.
Marsh has always held high hopes for the Mark Freeman and David Price-bred and owned gelding who was having his third start in his current campaign after being put aside following a runner-up finish at Rotorua back in October.
Up against the older gallopers in the rating 74 contest, El Vencedor cruised to the lead at the top of the straight for rider Michael McNab before comfortably holding out the challenge of fellow Cambridge raider Apostrophe, while stablemate Packing Joy dashed into third wider out on the track.
“He has just come back super from his last campaign and has really strengthened up nicely,” Marsh said of El Vencedor.
“We have always had an opinion of him, but he just wasn’t quite there both mentally and physically in his first prep.
“He is a different horse now and I just hope he can show that in Queensland next month.
“He is booked to fly out next Friday and will have his first run over 1350m against his age-group at Doomben on May 14.
“He can step up to a mile a fortnight later and then we will decide whether to press on or to bring him home.
“I think the trip will be the making of him and next season he could be a real standout.”
Marsh was also delighted with the run of Packing Joy, who will have one or two more starts before heading to the spelling paddock while promising staying mare Chakana showed enough when finishing off nicely for sixth behind her two stablemates to also warrant a trip across the Tasman.
“I thought Packing Joy was the run of the race in some respects as he hit the line very strongly,” Marsh said.
“He is quite lightly raced and will probably have a couple more starts before we put him aside as well.
“He doesn’t really appreciate the deep tracks but doesn’t mind a bit of cut in the surface so while the tracks reman reasonably good we will keep him going.
“Chakana was having her first start since running fourth in the Dunstan Stayers Final (2400m) on New Year’s day and went a cheeky race.
“We’re taking her to Queensland as well and will start out slow before stepping it up later on, if she performs to expectations.
“I can see a race like the Ipswich Cup (Listed, 2150m) being on her dance card if she can return to her best.”
Marsh also confirmed that three-year-old Hoard The Bourbon will have one more start in his current campaign before heading out for a spell while quality sprinting mare Iconic Star will be on a one-way trip to Brisbane after securing her eighth career victory and second for Marsh when promoted to outright first in the enquiry room following the running of race two on Saturday.
“Dylan Johnson and I purchased Iconic Star last June with the idea of trying to get some black type with her in New Zealand before sending her back to the Gold Coast broodmare sale this year,” he said.
“She has done us proud with two placings at Group Three level and on Saturday she got her second win for us from just seven starts.
“She actually dead-heated for first with Letzbeglam, but we fired in a protest as the other mare lay all over her in the last 100m and the JCA saw it our way and she was promoted to solo first.
“She is on the plane with our other horses to Brisbane and will also have a run over there on the 14th before we take her to the broodmare sale ten days later.
“I had also planned to take Hoard The Bourbon over for the Queensland Derby (Group 1, 2400m) but he didn’t really see out the distance in the Championship Stakes (Group 2, 2100m) on Saturday so he can stay here and have one more before we tip him out.
“He has come a long way in a short time and next campaign I think he will turn into a very capable stayer.”