Inexperienced Manawatu galloper Who Shot Thebarman has held off Australian challenger Celtic Prince to win the Auckland Cup.
Leading jockey Matt Cameron had Who Shot Thebarman three wide with cover for much of the 3200m race at Ellerslie but he dashed to the front soon after straightening.
Celtic Prince, trained by ex-pat New Zealander Bjorn Baker, looked like a threat 200m out but Who Shot Thebarman found another gear and won by a length.
Who Shot Thebarman was favourite after winning the Avondale Cup decisively in mid-February and he came into $2.50 when the field jumped.
“I thought he was really strong at the finish of the Avondale Cup and it was basically the same field today, apart from the two Australians, and it turned out one of the Australian horses was the danger,” Awapuni trainer Mark Oulaghan said.
“He was stuck a bit wide during the running so it wasn’t an ideal run, but I guess he’s won so that’s the main thing.”
A five-year-old by Yamanin Vital, a son of Sir Tristram, Who Shot Thebarman was running for just the ninth time, scoring his sixth win.
Oulaghan said Who Shot Thebarman is nominated for the $1 million Sydney Cup on April 19 and will probably have one lead-up in Australia before the 3200m feature.
Celtic Prince put up a brave effort to take second ahead of More Than Sacred, who came from well back after being shuffled out during the race.