An agonising wait has been worth every minute for Jenny Graham as the Port Macquarie trainer’s long-term plan for the Country Championships final reached fruition.
Held in reserve since advancing to the $500,000 showpiece for country trainers at Randwick, Victorem shrugged off any rust in style to provide the highlight of Graham’s career.
The three-year-old gelding had not raced since February 18 on his home track and Graham’s strategy panned out as Victorem scored by 2-1/2 lengths after an astute ride by Ben Looker.
Graham swept the Port Macquarie qualifier with Awesome Pluck and Portatorio filling the minor placings but they succumbed to injury, leaving Victorem as her only hope on Saturday.
“It’s been a bit difficult. We had a few little hiccups along the way but coming into the race I was quietly confident I had every thing right,” she said.
Graham had her first winner with River’s Way in 1995 and Victorem’s victory has also provided an enduring memory.
Victorem ($4.60) had only one trial before the final on March 31 and Looker eased Graham’s nerves with positive feedback.
The jockey then ensured Graham’s confidence was not misplaced when he opted for a rails run to hit the line ahead of Don’t Give A Damn, the $3.80 favourite.
O’ So Hazy ($41) was a long head third.
Graham never doubted the $60,000 yearling would see out the 1400m trip and now she has to decide where to travel next.
“I hadn’t really thought of the next plan to be honest,” she said.
Goulburn trainer Danny Williams suffered a setback before Don’t Give A Damn finished second when Pumpkin Pie was a late scratching after rearing in the gates and striking her neck.
First bet matched with up to $600 in Racing Bonus Bets!*