Evergreen gelding Pepperwood has claimed his second straight Coffs Harbour Gold Cup (1600m) title after flying home in the final stages of the race with a dream run up the inside of the track.
The Queensland-based veteran had not entered the winners circle since his victory in last year’s Coffs Harbour Gold Cup but he showed the acceleration of a much younger horse to record a one and a half-length victory from fast-finishing Single Style and Prince of Capers.
The win was the eleventh victory of Pepperwood’s racing career, which has now spanned seven years, and takes his career prizemoney to over $1 million.
Pepperwood looked as though he had reached the end of his racing career, when he failed to beat home a single runner in the first three runs of his winter campaign, and it has taken a remarkable training performance from Liam Birchley to return the nine-year-old to his best form.
Bede Murray-trained World Wide started the race as favourite but, despite receiving an excellent run just off the pace, failed to feature in the finish while Gai Waterhouse hopeful Kontiki Park over raced and faded to finish ninth.
Ross Stitt-trained Single Style was heavily backed in the lead-up to the race and he flew home in last 100 metres but was unable to catch Pepperwood.
Prince Of Capers, with Hugh Bowman on board, swept around the outside of the field to challenge for the lead with 700 meters left in the race but was unable to sustain his run and battled on bravely to finish third.
Pepperwood started the race as a $9 chance after showing signs of returning to his best form with a second place finish in the Listed Tattersall’s Mile (1600m) at Doomben in July and an unlucky seventh in the Powerade Handicap (1615m) at his last start.