Matt Cumani made a conscious decision in establishing his stable after arriving from the United Kingdom that he wanted to show he could prepare two-year-olds.
The Ballarat-based horseman did not want to be pigeon-holed as a trainer of distance horses and realised to be successful in Australia you needed winners with two-year-olds.
While he has had stakes winners with juveniles, none have been as important as the victory of Khoekhoe in the $855,000 The Showdown at Caulfield on Saturday.
Ridden by Fred Kersley, Khoekhoe ($14) grabbed the $5.50 favourite River Night in the shadows of the post to score by a head with Galactic Fury ($61) 3-1/2 lengths away third.
Saturday’s race was restricted to horses by Victorian-based sires and Cumani purchased Khoekhoe for $50,000 at last year’s Melbourne yearling sale.
“It’s important to have good two-year-olds in Australia and I’ve been trying to prove that we can do it,” Cumani said.
“We put a lot of work into finding good value horses.
“He had a great pedigree, no black-type, but lots of winners and was a real standout horse at the sales.
“You dream of a horse like this.
“We were a bit worried after Echuca that he may have been flattered by the pace or the better ground out wide, but to see him do that, it’s just unbelievable.”
Cumani praised Kersley’s ride, showing patience.
“I had two in the race and I was watching both and didn’t know where to look,” Cumani said.
“I just thought Fred was brilliant on him though.
“He didn’t panic, he just was waiting, waiting, waiting for the gap and it opened perfectly for him and the horse did the rest.”
For Kersley the victory was the perfect way to end his apprenticeship.
“This race wasn’t a claiming race but to go out with a metro winner on my last day is great,” Kersley said.
“And to get it for my boss, Matt, he’s put so much support behind me.
“We missed out on a Group One a week ago with Etah James (Sydney Cup), but I think this makes up for it.”