The Taree Gold Cup is heading back to Sydney after Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott combined to win the $100,000 feature with Military Mission at Manning Valley Race Club on Sunday.
Ridden by Rachel King in the 2000m country cup, the five-year-old was given a good ride in behind early leader Ting Tong (Kris Lees, Dylan Gibbons), and turning for home, the pair were in second position as they made their final run.
Despite carrying 63kg over the 10-furlong trip, the $3.90 favourite proved too strong to the line, holding off the fast-finishing Onemore Sapphire (Mikayla Weir, $16) for the Tracey Bartley yard in second, while the James Ponsonby-trained Socrates (Winona Costin, $5) boxed on gamely for third.
Military Mission was forced to work hard for the win, but King believes his class shone through on the day.
“He’s only second-up, up to 2000m at a big weight, and he sort of hit a little bit of a flat spot at the top of the straight, but that Gai and Adrian training came into effect in the last 300m, and he was very strong,” King said after the win.
“He got this weight for a reason; he is a very classy horse, and it was nice to get the job done on him today and for a lovely bunch of owners as well and I think there is a lot of better things to come for him in the future.”
While Racing NSW are yet to officially confirm qualifying country cups for the 2023 Big Dance and Little Dance finals, many pundits believe the Taree Cup will be included again, meaning Military Mission and Onemore Sapphire could be eligible to contest either the $2 million Big Dance or $500,000 Little Dance later next year.
In the second of the features at Taree on Sunday, The $35,000 Taree Lightning Sprint, which is a 1000m Open Handicap, was won by the Wayne Wilkes-trained Austeja (Andrew Gibbons, $4), which beat the Tony Ball-trained pair of Time For Victory (Luke Rolls, $5) in second and Into The Fire (Jasper Franklin, $6) in third.
It was a good, albeit very warm day for the Manning Valley Race Club, with around 700 patrons on course for the eight-race Showcase program.
The club races again on Monday when hosting a seven-race-program, before their busy Christmas meeting, which is another seven-race-program on Sunday, December 18.
For full results from the Manning River Race Club Taree Cup meeting, readers can click here.