A short-term plan captured the prize and with it a lifelong dream.
Mister Wickham’s success in Sunday’s The Warragul Downtowner Pacing Bowl Cup not only secured victory in his first country cup but fulfilled trainer Lee Evison’s childhood dream.
“It is something that I always wanted to win, when I was a little kid growing up I would go to the local trots and thought about one day winning the Warragul Cup,” Evison said.
“Wherever you are you want to win your local cup and I have never done it before and now it’s just good to say you have done it. I ran run third and fourth before, but even then was more just making up the numbers. Yesterday was the first time that I went in with a live chance.”
Come race start Mister Wickham was a $2.10 favourite, preferred ahead of Wangaratta and Echuca cup winners Four Ex Dan and Stormfortheboys, with Evison’s star stable having won and placed in consecutive metropolitan races on resumption from a four-month spell.
“(The Warragul Cup) was planned for him,” Evison said. “After he won first up I backed him off for three weeks and then he ran third at Melton, which was to bring him back up for Warragul. Before the race I thought he could run track record time if he needed too.”
Come race start Evison had done all he could and handed the keys to driver Greg Sugars.
“Good drivers don’t need instructions and he summed up the race perfectly,” he said.
In the six-horse field, Sugars took Four Ex Dan’s back and when Zac Phillips put the pedal down three-wide Mister Wickham was gifted an armchair ride into the race. At about the 400m, Four Ex Dan passed Stormfortheboys into the breeze, setting Mister Wickham free three-wide and he found ground in a 28.1 last quarter to win by 3.2m.
“He had every chance from there and thankfully he was good enough to win,” Evison said. “At that level they are all good horses. I just knew that we had him right and if we didn’t win it would take a really good horse to beat him. All the owners were there and I’m glad I can say that I have won my local cup now.”
The joy of Mister Wickham’s ownership is shared by many.
“He’s been a great purchase for the owners. He doesn’t owe them anything, he’s paid them back and more and they have had an absolute ball with him. He’s a great horse, he’s so consistent with his effort and whatever he does from this point is a bonus.”