I'll'ava'alf wins incident-packed steeple

MELBOURNE Aug 7 2016

There are many ways for punters to lose their money on a horse race.

At Sandown on Sunday another was added to the list.

Sea King, the $2.70 favourite in the Crisp Steeplechase, lost his rider Steven Pateman when a section of rail struck the gelding in the chest.

Nearing the 1000m mark on the first occasion, King Of The Forest, ridden by Jarrod Lynch, brushed the rail dislodging a section into the path of Sea King.

While Pateman was picking himself up off the ground, Sea King continued riderless, eventually becoming a nuisance to the well-backed $3 second favourite Zed Em.

The race was incident-packed with Gold A Plenty (Tom Ryan) and Marlo Man (Paul Hamblin) falling and Underground Fighter (Lee Horner) being brought down.

All horses and riders were uninjured.

I'll'ava'alf ($5) took out the feature steeplechase by three-quarters of a length from New Zealand visitor Lucky Tonight ($26) with Zed Em eight lengths away.

It was only I'll'ava'alf's second start over the bigger jumps.

He lost his rider, coincidentally Steven Pateman, at Casterton last month.

Trainer Patrick Ryan junior said it was touch and go whether the gelding lined up on Sunday.

I'll'ava'alf races in the same colours as Melbourne Cup winner Prince Of Penzance with Sandy McGregor involved in the ownership of both horses.

"Eight or nine days ago I rang Sandy and thought that might be the end of his prep," Ryan said.

"He got dumped at Casterton. He ran through a running rail, flipped over a wing and he got a few lacerations to his leg and I thought that might be enough for him.

"I just poked around with him off the pony at the beach and he's hardly been ridden since.

"I think he's better on a wetter track and not having to go down a hill, so to win today was a big relief."

Ryan said I'll'ava'alf was likely to back up into the Grand National Steeplechase at Ballarat on August 21.



Craig Brennan - AAP

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