Fortuna Racing’s 8yo Gelding, LEADERBOARD, wins the 150th running of the Wellington Cup

It was an amazing day of racing 28th January for the Fortuna Racing Team with their Irish bred stayer, LEADERBOARD, taking out the time honoured and iconic Wellington Cup at odds of $51. LEADERBOARD’S lead up form into this race had not been inspiring, but overnight the rain had tumbled at Trentham and Leaderboard is a horse who just loves to get his toe in the ground. See the story below from Jeff Dore

Outsider Leaderboard (8 g Street Cry – Flower Fairy, by Dynaformer) pulled off a terrific victory in the $300,000 NZ Campus of Innovation & Sport Wellington Cup (Gr. 3, 3200m) on Saturday at Trentham. Third and fifth, respectively, in the New Zealand Cup (Gr. 3, 3200m), Leaderboard recorded his most recent victory in the New Zealand St Leger (Listed, 2600m) last March at Trentham, and although finishing 12th in the Marton Cup (Listed, 2200m) on the same course three weeks earlier his staying prowess carried the day.

Ridden by Irishman Joe Doyle (26), who commenced riding in NZ in November and already recorded feature success aboard Devastate (Vadamos) in the Wellington Stakes (Gr. 3, 1600m), Leaderboard was no further back than seventh before cruising into contention from the 800m and quickened best of all on the outskirts of the track. “He felt great during the week,” said Doyle, who rode Leaderboard in an exhibition gallop between races at Matamata during the week. “We knew we needed the rain to come, but thankfully it did and it was pretty straightforward, the race. He travelled beautifully. We didn’t go a mad gallop, we went even and he just kept fighting up to the line. You know, they’re the horses you want to ride and I’m very grateful to be riding for such good people. Every horse I ride I try to give a good ride and when it works out on days like today it’s very special. So I’m very fortunate and very grateful to the people in New Zealand. Anytime they (Te Akau) have a runner they always have a chance. You know the horse is going to be fit and in the best condition it can be.”

Click HERE to see the race result and replay

On rain-affected footing that downgraded to Heavy 10 following race four, Leaderboard ran the two miles (3200m) in 3:33.0 and drifted in betting to pay $50.30 & $9.50 on the NZ TAB tote. His sire Street Cry (Machiavellian) also left Winx, world record holder of 25 Group One races, Champion US mare Zenyatta, Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, and Melbourne Cup winner Shocking, so stamina runs in the blood and Leaderboard has his share.

Leaderboard striding clear closing stages in the 2023 Wellington Cup

Owned by Fortuna Leaderboard Syndicate (Manager; John Galvin), Leaderboard was purchased in October 2018 at the Tattersalls Sale in U.K by International Bloodstock agent, Hubie De Burgh, for 70,000 Guineas on behalf of Fortuna, and following seven career wins, has earnings of $340,000.

“We bought him at a Tattersalls Horses In Training sale with a race like this in mind, so to achieve the goal is outstanding,” John Galvin said. “It’s a fantastic result for us and he represents a big syndicate of people from all over New Zealand and one Member from Australia. He had already put together a couple of good runs at the distance and although the immediate form wasn’t overly inspiring, our confidence grew when the rain came. He didn’t get a start in the Wellington Cup last year because of a foot abscess, but we knew he’d get the trip today as he was rock hard fit. Both Mark (Walker) and I had told Joe (Doyle) not to give up on him because he can be a bit lazy at times, but Joe got him going at the 800m, got him to the outside, and as he turned for home I thought it was all done and dusted. And while he was challenged to his inside by a couple in the closing stages he found another gear and just outstayed them”

“The train ride back to Wellington was amazing because Jessica and I had the Cup with us and were completely surrounded by people wanting to take photographs and selfies. And we told our fellow travelers on the train that  Knippenberg was running for us in race five in Singapore, so everyone had bets on their phones and he duly got up and won on debut, so the whole carriage descended into chaos with yelling, screaming, and cheering. It was incredible scenes, even when we arrived at Wellington Station it took us 20 minutes to get from the platform to the taxi rank because so many people wanted to be photographed with the Cup”

“I love Mark as a trainer. He constantly thinks, plots and schemes about his horses and with Leaderboard, since he ran at Trentham in the Marton Cup in early January, he’d given him some dressage, did interval training, put him over a few tyres and galloped him, just to get his head in the right place. Mark said the horse was absolutely fit, but just needed a wet track. So as the rain started to tumble yesterday it lifted the confidence and certainly a few of us got on at great odds and had a nice collect.”

“As I said in my acceptance speech, I am a boy from the Hutt (raised in Naenae), I went to my first Wellington Cup when I was 16 years old and always dreamed of winning a Wellington Cup but never had a runner until today, and while I’ve had some great thrills with Darci Brahma, Tell A Tale and  Melody Belle to name just a few, today was something really special. To my mind the Wellington Cup is one of the classic races on the New Zealand calendar and to win it the way we did today was just incredible.”

Jessica and John Galvin  with the Wellington Cup

Deputising for trainer Mark Walker, inspecting yearlings ahead of the sales that commence on Sunday 29 January at Karaka, assistant trainer Sam Bergerson said: “Mark (Walker) got him really fit. We got plenty of work into him and the rain was always going to help him. I’m stoked for everyone at home and I’m stoked for John (Galvin), who is a massive supporter of our stable. Joe (Doyle) got him into a lovely spot, a lovely rhythm, and he galloped him on Wednesday at Matamata, and afters he said, gee, this horse is as fit as a fiddle. So we were quietly confidently, but we never knew with him because he can throw in a shocker at times. He presented well, travelled down well and Mark had got him really fit. We’d thrown the book at him in terms of work and different tricks. He’d had a bit of trouble with his feet and different things, but to get him right for today and a result like that is huge. John has had a lot of good horses in the stable [including dual Horse of the Year Melody Belle] and it’s great to get another great result in an iconic race like this.”

Leaderboard is raced by the Fortuna Leaderboard Syndicate, an ownership Group of 73 individuals, 72 NZ based and 1 based in the Northern Territory, Australia

Leaderboard’s Wellington Cup winning connections

Leaderboard was strapped by Olivia Hill.