Veteran jockey Robert Thompson has produced a sterling ride on his return from injury to win his first Wyong Gold Cup aboard Slow Pace.
Thompson, the Australian record holder with more than 4000 winners, was cleared to ride on Monday after suffering a concussion when a horse he was to ride at Cessnock bucked on August 22.
On his first day riding since the fall, Thompson guided Slow Pace home to give trainer Kris Lees his first victory in the $160,000 Listed feature on Friday.
“It only took me 40 years to win it so you’ve got to keep trying,” Thompson told Sky Thoroughbred Central.
Thompson took off mid-race on Slow Pace to sit outside leader Halfway To Heaven.
After taking the lead in the straight, Slow Pace ($18) was eyeballed by $4.40 favourite Sacred Master but kicked strongly to hold the Chris Waller-trained stayer by half a length.
While the Cup meeting was in doubt earlier on Friday because of persistent rain, Thompson said Slow Pace relished the heavy track.
“He travelled terrific,” Thompson said.
“I got to about the 700 metres and I thought I’ve really made them earn it now.
“He toughed it out right to the line.”
It was Slow Pace’s first win in Australia since Australian Bloodstock bought him and sent him to Lees’ stable in 2014.
The nine-year-old’s last win came in France more than three years ago.
“It’s been a long couple of years,” Lees said.
“The mid-race move that put him outside the leader certainly won him the race.”
Lees confirmed Slow Pace, along with Sense Of Occasion and Singing who produced a one-two finish in the Listed Premier’s Cup at Rosehill on Saturday, will race in his elusive hometown cup at Newcastle on September 16.
The $120,000 Listed Mona Lisa Stakes was won by Godolphin mare Fitou with No.1 stable jockey James McDonald guiding her home to beat Tears In Heaven and La Muse.