Racing: Mark Todd suitably impressed

Mark Todd may not have been at Riccarton on Saturday but he "could not stop laughing" after watching a video of his horse Kullu running his rivals ragged in the Metropolitan Handicap.

Todd, the champion New Zealand equestrian, suggested the horse be sent south to Ngapuke trainers Matt and Mandy Brown from Stephen McKee.

"Mark and Stephen held the horse in high regard and when Mark went to England he sent the horse to us as we had trained another couple for him.

"We took a share in the horse with other friends of Mark who race him."

Todd received a text after the race and has watched a video of the event.

"Mark just couldn't stop laughing after he saw the video. He thought it was just great.""Mandy rang David [Walsh] after Chris Johnson opted not to take the mount [Johnson was later suspended]. David said he had only one ride [Macka's Back in the Guineas] at the meeting but said he would accept the mount.

Mandy thought Walsh would ride Kullu well in front and put pressure on the others.

Kullu opened up a 15-length lead from the 700m. The 6yr-old maintained a big advantage in the run home and although running out over the closing stages as he began to tire, kept on under the urgings of Walsh to win by eight lengths.

John and Mary Hutton, Hanlin and Kate Johnstone, Humphrey and Debra Rolleston, all of Christchurch, are also in the ownership of the Elvstroem gelding.

Elvstroem won 10 races from the Tony Vasil stable including the 2003 Victoria Derby and the 2004 Caulfield Cup.

Matt said the Browns had seldom been as emotional, saying the way in which the horse desptached a good field would be memorable.

He has the New Zealand Cup on his agenda.

"He has come through the race well and has not left an oat."

Walsh said he did not realise how far he was in front. He said the horse did no work early and only had to sprint over the concluding stages.

Miss Isle did her New Zealand Cup prospects no harm running on well late for second.

It is seldom a feature race is won in such a runaway fashion at Riccarton.

It recalls the effort of Foglia D'Oro, who in the hands of Bill Skelton, opened up a huge lead in the 1959 New Zealand Cup and held on to win by three and a-half lengths when 13-13 in a field of 21.

The Browns also won on Saturday with Veronica Hall, whose dam, Greta Hall, numbered the Breeders Stakes at Wingatui in 1998 among her five wins.

Mandy rode Greta Hall in trackwork at Rangiora before the Wingatui win and accompanied the Dave and Paul O'Sullivan filly south.

Princess Katie, racing in the blue and gold chequers made famous by the great galloper, Copper Belt, held on tenaciously fresh up to win the Pegasus Stakes.

Princess Katie is trained by Kevin Gray who prepared Copper Belt. It was the only starter for Gray on the day.

The 5yr-old is raced by his son, Stephen, and his wife, Bridget, who bred the mare.

Princess Katie was ridden by Lisa Allpress, who was apprenticed to Gray for five years.

Princess Katie is set to back up in the group three Stewards Handicap on Wednesday with Robert Hannam the rider.

Final Touch enhanced her prospects for the Canterbury Breeders Stakes on Wednesday when she stormed home to be only a head back second.

If you are going to win a maiden race then a $20,000 race is the one to succeed in.

The Paul Richards-trained Our Santana did just that at Riccarton on Saturday at his second start.

Settled handy to the pace by Leith Innes, the Coats Choice 3yr-old drew clear with Willow Park over the final stages and held on to win by half a neck.

Our Santana is raced by Bill and Sandra Duell of Mosgiel.

They same connections have Natuzzi, a top prospect for the rating 85 1400m on Wednesday.

Both horses are by Coats Choice and were purchased out of the Riccarton stable of Ross Beckett.


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