By Isaac Murphy
The inaugural Country Cups Challenge has been taken out by Baker Boy, with the silverware heading to Gatton with trainer Brenton Andrew.
The eight-year-old gelding was given a peach of a ride from the in-form Ron Stewart.
After missing the start at his last run Baker Boy was originally pegged as second reserve and only gained entry following scratchings.
But it was meant to be for Andrew and a loyal group of owners as the gelding bounced out of gate 15 to box-seat in the run, before taking the split on the rail.
“It’s a huge thrill for me, but I’m even happier for the owners who have been with us a long time and finally got their first city winner,” Andrew said.
“He usually jumps brilliantly but he came out fifty metres behind them last start.
“We gave him a jump out here leading into the race and he pinged out, so I was confident he’d put himself in the race.”
With his renewed faith in the gelding’s gate speed, Andrew said it was the plan to try to get out quick, but things panned out better than expected.
“With his gate speed it was the plan to work across and find ourselves a spot in the first few, but for Ron (Stewart) to get him the box seat is more than we could have asked for,” he said.
“He had a few things in his favour today, being down in the weights and he just got that right run today, being tucked away and getting out at the right time.”
Though Baker Boy hadn’t been in great form leading into the contest, Andrew said he knew the eight-year-old had it in him after strong runs last prep.
“We knew he had it in him, he ran within a length of Bergerac last prep at the Sunshine Coast and if he re-produced something like that he’d be hard to beat,” he said.
A passionate horseman Andrew said it had been a rough year for his operation, but was glad races like the Battle of The Bush and the Country Cups Challenge were shining a light on the industry in its entirety.
“It’s been a tough year, myself and my wife who’s a jockey had to open up our own business to support the financial costs of the stable, we have cut down from ten horses to six,” he said
“I won the Eastern Downs Trainer of the Year last year and we were still feeling the pinch financially.”
“To come to town and win a race like this is not only a thrill, but also shines a light on all the country trainers and horses that make a living from the industry.”