The Halls Gap Cup will head to Swan Hill after the Nathan Hobson trained Sovereign Duke took out the Lakeside Tourist Park feature race.
Stawell had plenty of opportunity to keep the trophy in the region with Terry and Karina O’Sullivan trained Already Taken, Doug Whitworth trained Dante’s Finale and Dane Smith trained Samer’s Atom all taking their place in the gates.
Sovereign Duke teamed up with Stawell jockey Linda Meech and had better ideas.
They hit the straight early and had enough to hold on despite late challenges down the straight.
The winning connection were please with the victory.
“We were really impressed with his run this start,” Hobson said.
“We put the blinkers on him this time because he was a little disappointing at his last start in Warrnambool. He hasn't gone as well in recent starts so it was nice to turn that around.”
The five-year-old gelding pushed to the front early and was able to win by a length.
When asked what the plan was for the race Hobson said he always wanted to moved through the field early.
“He runs on the pace,” he said.
“That’s just the way he rides. Linda is a top jockey and she rode him really well.”
Hobson plans on sending Sovereign Duke to town in his next start.
“His previous owner raced him in a listed race,” he said.
“We think he is going to be a good horse for us, but we just hope he can keep improving. We have no real expectations of him.”
Having only had the gelding at his stables for a short period of time, Hobson and Sovereign Duke are still forming their relationship.
“So far he seems to be a lovely natured horse,” Hobson said.
“We haven’t come across any problems with him at this stage. We will throw him in the deep end with his racing and see how he goes.”
Hobson currently has 12 horses in work in his stables in Swan Hill.
“It is a pretty quiet time of year up our way,” Hobson said.
“There isn't much racing so we tend to drive around a bit further than normal. We are off to Wagga today, but Stawell was a really nice meet for all of our crew to go to last week.”
The win in Stawell was the first for Hobson stables despite having come to Stawell for a long time.
“I have always got a couple of placings, but I have never been able to win,” Hobson said.
“It was nice to win the Halls Gap Cup and it was a really good day for everyone considering how hot it was.”
There were no complaints from any of the jockeys or trainers in regard to a track that had been described as “perfect” from some racegoers.
“We prefer a bit softer track that has a bit of give in it, the horses and the jockeys appreciate it” Hobson said.
We put the blinkers on him this time because he was a little disappointing at his last start in Warrnambool. He hasn't gone as well in recent starts so it was nice to turn that around.