E is for Elsu

It’s been called “breathtaking” and one of the Hunter Cup’s greatest ever wins.

It was 2005 and Elsu, trained by Geoff Small and driven by David Butcher, overcame a 20 metre handicap, only to be three wide without cover for the last lap and then destroy a top class field in Australia’s most prestigious standing start race.

Calling the race Dan Mielicki could barely contain himself at the finish, saying that Elsu has “got to be the best horse in the Southern Hemisphere” and that she was “a star”.

“What a win in the Hunter Cup – one of the best ever”

It was a defining moment for a horse that won two Auckland Cups and was twice voted New Zealand Horse of the Year. He was also the first New Zealand horse to earn over two million dollars and  had a clean sweep of the 2005  Interdominions,  going through the heats and final unbeaten. 

According to David Butcher :  “Elsu is a horse that makes me look good”.

At the time of Elsu’s victory the Hunter Cup was held at Moonee Valley before it moved to Tabcorp Park at Melton.

Off the backmark, Elsu  had no option but to bide his time. Defending champion Holmes D.G. had broken up and was pretty much out of contention while Young Rufus and Mark Purdon started like a bullet and went to the front.

With 1200 metres to go and with favourite and local star The Warp Drive among the leaders, Butcher moved on Elsu.  They were posted three wide for the rest of the trip and despite Young Rufus running a 28-second third quarter Elsu careered away to win by two lengths.

Butcher : “This horse is a superstar on his day and today was his day”.

The five year old joining the likes of Pure Steel, Preux Chevalier and Blossom Lady to take out Australia’s premier staying race.

Knee problems shortened Elsu’s racing career and he ran his last race in May 2005 before heading  off to stud.  He finished with 27 wins from 47 starts, earning more than $2.1m. 

$323,018 of that was made on Saturday, February  12 in Melbourne, 15 years ago.

Tomorrow it’s  “F” – and some Interdominions  history at an unusual venue. 



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