Cavanough and Grisedale combine to win maiden Armidale Cup

Jon Grisedale and the Brett Cavanough-trained Pepper’s Ghost (black and pink silks) drive to the lead in the 2022 Armidale Cup on Sunday. Photo: Bradley Photos.

Scone trainer Brett Cavanough and Coffs Harbour jockey Jon Grisedale have both enjoyed good careers, having won many feature races throughout country NSW. 

On Sunday, the pair combined to win their first Armidale Cup, with Pepper’s Ghost taking out the $60,000 feature.

Given an absolute peach of a ride by Grisedale in the 1900m event, Pepper’s Ghost travelled nicely behind early leaders Nature Boy and Group Think, and as the field turned for home, the pair peeled three wide, tracking last year’s winner Beckford into the Armidale home straight. 

From there it was a tense match race, but the Scone galloper had enough in the tank, with Pepper’s Ghost ($3.60) edging past the Troy O’Neile-trained Beckford (Serg Lisnyy, $6) to win by 0.4 of a length, while in third and one length away was the Stirling Osland-trained Point Counterpoint (Aaron Bullock, $3.20). 

Grisedale deflected any praise, instead suggesting that everything simply came together on the day. 

“He got around that track quite good,” Grisedale said. 

“I had a very good run, and got the split when I wanted it, and he did the rest, and he did it easy in the end.”

When asked on his opinion of Pepper’s Ghost, Grisedale believes the five-year-old will only get further and will most likely compete in the top echelon of country cups.  

“He will stay all day and the further he will go the better he will be,” Grisedale said. 

“Those bigger races are obviously harder, and I won’t say he can’t do it. 

“He run a tremendous race in the Country Classic, and it was a $150,000 race, and I thought he was very unlucky, and if he is good enough to compete in a race like that, I don’t see why he can’t go on with it.”

While originally booked to ride three on Sunday, Grisedale travelled to Armidale for just the one ride, and he was happy to help Cavanough win a maiden Armidale Cup.  

“It was first Armidale Cup too. I’ve ridden in plenty of country cup races, but it was good to get Brett his first Armidale Cup too,” Grisedale said.  

“I did have other rides booked, but they were scratched, and I only ended up with one ride in the cup, but it turned out really good for both of us.” 

Cavanough was impressed with Pepper’s Ghost and his ability to stay in the North West feature.

“He (Grisedale) just wanted him to be happy but when he peeled off and come round them, he obviously had a bit under him and looks like he wants a bit further,” Cavanough said. 

As a result of his win in the Armidale Cup, Pepper’s Ghost is now eligible for the $2 million Big Dance and $500,000 Little Dance, along with runner-up Beckford, and Cavanough was most pleased for his connections. 

“It’s good to see him win (and there is) a bunch of new owners in him,” Cavanough said. 

“Obviously, it’s a Big Dance qualifier too, so a few bonuses there. Plus, there was good prizemoney, and it was a good day.”

In a good day of racing at Armidale, the Cody Morgan-trained Ezekeil won the Armidale Newmarket for Ben Looker, and for full results, readers can click here