Oulaghan counts them out in National again
12 August 2017, 4:41 p.m.
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 Saturday’s success in the Racecourse Hotel & Motor Lodge-sponsored feature in typically humble fashion.
|Upper Cut, inner, and runner-up Kina Win Photo: Race Images South|
“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.
“I put a lot of it down to his sire Yamanin Vital, one of his progeny (Ready Eddie) won the National Hurdle on Wednesday and they can stay,” Oulaghan said.
Yamanin Vital was a son of Sir Tristram and he has also sired other top-class jumpers such as Hypnotize, Climbing High and the Oulaghan pair of Yourtheman and Counter Punch.
Auckland Cup winner and Melbourne Cup placegetter Who Shot Thebarman has been his top flat representative.
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. “These are the races you live and dream for.”
Koral placegetters Kina Win and Tai Ho again finished second and third respectively ahead of Chocolate Fish and the warm favourite The Big Opal. He 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.