MR ALIGN TAKES OUT THE McGregor Grant Steeplechase.
Ridden by Derek Nolan, MR ALIGN settled second-last in the 4150m steeplechase, improved approaching the hill on the second lap and then chased down CLIMBING HIGH who had taken a lead of at least 15 lengths inside the last 800 meter mark, he hit the lead inside the last 200m and strode away to score by 4 3/4-lengths. IMA HEROINE ran home well to be 2 lengths away in third.
Graeme Rogerson, ''He's a nice horse this, on the way up, I feel a bit for Daniel as he's done all the work on this horse. He couldn't make the weight but he'll be back on him next start. It was a good effort today, especially as dropped his whip on the top of the hill when he asked him for a big jump. We will look at Australia and flying him over for one race and then flying back. If we don't do that we'll look at the Grand National at Riccarton. 'Steeplechasing is his go. It's taken a bit of time to make him but now he's really turned the corner,"
He also revealed plans to have Mr Align transferred to New Plymouth trainer John Wheeler next year with a view to preparing him for the Grand National Steeplechase at Aintree.
MR ALIGN'S win was his fourth in 41 starts, with the last three wins coming in his past three starts in steeplechases.
Jockey Derek Nolan was thrilled with the McGregor Grant Steeples success, his biggest win in New Zealand, but said he felt for Daniel Oakden who was supposed to ride but couldn't make the weight. ''I really feel for Daniel. He's a good friend of mine and this is for him,''