Country Cup king claims Gilgandra feature with Cheptegei

Serg Lisnyy and the Michael Mulholland-trained Cheptegei won Monday’s Gilgandra Cup. Photo: Racing Photography.

Michael Mulholland reaffirmed his status as NSW’s country cup king on Monday, with the Dubbo trainer winning the Gilgandra Cup with Cheptegei.

It was a sensational lead-up to the $45,000 feature race, with the meeting at one stage in doubt due to a section of the track near the 1400m ‘deemed unsuitable for racing’, which led to the abandonment of the third race, the 1800m Class Three Coo-ee Cup. 

Despite the concerns, the show went on, with the Gilgandra Cup distance reduced from 1600m to 1280m, and that didn’t stop Cheptegei (Serg Lisnyy, $5.50) from finishing strongly to defeat the Brett Robb-trained Great Buy (Jake Barrett, $3.30) by 2.11 lengths, while 2.61 lengths away in third was the Clint Lundholm-trained Vital Verse (Jake Pracey-Holmes, $7).

“It didn’t matter (about the distance),” Mulholland said. 

“There was a bit of pace on early and we got the right run down the middle of the park where you wanted to be.

“It took a bit to push him there to that sixth spot, and he sat in there behind them and was too strong.”

The six-year-old is a now a five-time winner, and Mulholland is eyeing another cup as Cheptegei’s assignment. 

“The Cowra Cup,” Mulholland replied when asked what’s next for Cheptegei. 

“That’s why we were going here for this run and then to the Cowra Cup and we will see what happens after that.”

In the Gilgandra Town Plate, So Country (Mikayla Weir, $2.45) resumed from a 14-week freshen-up, and the Tamworth Galloper flashed late to defeat the Brett Robb-trained Moetta (Serg Lisnyy, $3,30) by 0.04 of a length, while in third and only 0.27 of a length away in third was the Damien Lane-trained Safado (Patrick Scorse, $10).

Clayton Gallagher dominated the jockey’s challenge, winning three races on the day, and while Brett Robb finished runner up in the Gilgandra Cup and Town Plate, he won two other races on the program. 

For results click here.