A cagey ride by Ryan Elliot and a never-say-die attitude from his mount Colorado Star (Alamosa x Elegant Emerald) saw the pair upset the applecart at odds of $32 as they combined for victory in the Gr.3 Denis Wheeler Earthmoving Taranaki Cup (1800m) at New Plymouth.
The Mike Breslin-trained seven-year-old son of Alamosa had always looked to have the ability to take out a feature race and that moment came on Saturday as he led throughout in the Group Three.
Elliot took the initiative from the outside barrier in the nine-horse field and dictated play to suit himself as his rivals allowed him to sneak some quiet sectionals during the mid-stages.
Elliot asked Colorado Star to go when rounding the home bend, but was quickly joined by the well fancied Soldier Boy who had stalked him in the trail before issuing his challenge.
The pair set down to a dogfight with Colorado Star pulling clear in the final 100m to win handsomely by just over a length from Soldier Boy, with Zola Express running on well to take third.
Breslin was delighted to see his charge bounce back to winning form after enduring a lean period since his last victory back in September 2021.
“At home he has been as well as he has ever been, his work has been good and I just felt he hadn’t been putting in on raceday,” he said.
“I purposely put Ryan on as he is quite a strong rider and I said ‘go forward and make sure he is awake’.
“I got quite confident about the 800m as he was still hard up against the bridle, so he was more like the old Colorado Star.
“We’ll probably try him over a bit further now but we’re very happy with him.”
Elliot felt the change in race tactics really suited his mount, who travelled well all the way.
“He just needed a change in tactics and Mike said get him out and get him excited to be there,” Elliot said.
“He pricked his ears going past the post the first time, relaxed well and when they came up to him, he fought them off nicely.”
Bred by studmaster Bill Gleeson at his Wellfield Lodge base, Colorado Star is out of the lightly raced Unbridled’s Song mare Elegant Emerald who won five of her 12 starts and was placed fourth behind Tit For Taat in the 2003 Gr.1 Telegraph (1200m).
Raced by the In To Win Elegant Emerald Syndicate, he has now won six of his 28 starts, while he has been placed on nine further occasions including finishing third in the 2021 Gr.2 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile (1600m) at Riccarton. – NZ Racing Desk