Cox Plate winning jockey Patrick Payne fulfilled a lifelong ambition when Awakening Dream ran away with the $250,000 Grand Annual Steeplechase at Warrnambool.
The eight-year-old, by unfashionable stallion Aristotle, gave champion jumps jockey Steven Pateman his second victory in the gruelling 5500m marathon over 33 fences after he won it aboard Al Garhood last year.
Pateman dominated the six jumps events over the three-day carnival winning five of them including the Galleywood Hurdle aboard Black And Bent.
“There’s a lot of prestige to this race and this horse is a family favourite,” Payne said.
“My brother (Andrew) had him and gave him to me to train about three years ago because he didn’t have his jumping licence.
“The horse was bred by Mike Hurst who is a family friend and used to race horses with my father (Paddy).
“He still has a part-share in him and that makes it pretty special.
“The horse is bred stamina on stamina and loves wet tracks.”
Awakening Dream has won eight of his 11 jumps starts and was targeted at the race virtually straight after he ran second to Al Garhood in last year’s edition.
Pateman took Awakening Dream ($4.40) to the front after Al Garhood led in the early stages.
He controlled the race and had it won a long way out, strolling home by 15 lengths from Vindicating ($6) with Pentacolo ($21) three-quarters of a length away third.
Lucky Lurch, a $101 outsider, was fourth while Tobouggie Nights ($4.20 fav) disappointed finishing eighth.
The only one of the 12 runners who failed to complete the course was Iguazu who was eased out of the race late.
Payne, whose highly successful career as a jockey included Northerly’s second Cox Plate victory in 2002, had a season-long stint as a jumps rider before taking up training.
But never rode in a Grand Annual.
“I was too frightened to have a go here,” Payne said.
“This is a different emotion to winning the Cox Plate. It was a great relief when I won the Cox Plate but this horse is just a great horse to us.”
Payne praised Pateman’s display in the saddle.
“You leg him on, you put your feet up and relax,” Payne said.
“You are very confident in the job he’s going to do and he’s very helpful.
“This horse’s saddle slipped back on him and he actually made a girth for him and he and his girlfriend sewed it up themselves so the saddle wouldn’t slip back.
“He’s an utter professional.”
Pateman said winning the race for the first time on Al Garhood was special but he was also rapt to land it for Payne.
“A lot of work goes into this race and it’s not easy to pull it off,” Pateman said.
“The horse has been in work since October. He’s a very safe horse.”
Trainer Ciaron Maher said 12-year-old Al Garhood, a dual Grand Annual winner who finished last on Thursday, had run his last race.