HE DIDN'T quite land the honours in the race he sponsored on Bendigo Cup day, but home-track trainer Kym Hann still had much to celebrate on Wednesday.
Hann - a regular winner of the Bendigo Trainers' Association strike-rate award - caused a boilover in the 1100m benchmark 78 with Royal Tyke.
The six-year-old gelding was the outsider of the field at $41.50, but his win never looked in doubt after he confidently strode to the front before the 200m and hit the line strongly.
Royal Tyke, ridden by Harry Coffey, was well up in grade following a ninth at his last start at Echuca in a benchmark 64, but with only a small field accepting for Wednesday's race, Hann believed it was a shot worth taking.
"That's really satisfying. Especially for these owners. They've been big supporters of mine," he said post-race.
"I might have shot myself in the foot though winning a benchmark 78 with him. He might be a bit hard to place now.
"It was a shock (winning), that's for sure.
"I wasn't actually going to run in this. He was accepted for the benchmark 64 but when the acceptances came out there was only five (others) in this race.
"So I rang them up and said 'if I accept will you run it' and they said they would. I said I might as well run in a six-horse field for $50,000 with 54 kilos.
"That was great."
While unplaced at his previous two starts this preparation, Hann said was not entirely displeased with the six-year-old's form heading into race day.
"His first two runs this time in, as bad as they looked, they weren't. He missed the kick at Swan Hill, came home well," he said.
"Last start at Swan Hill he clipped heels and almost fell.
"(He) got the run of the race today - perfect ride by Harry.
"It has been a long time between drinks but I think we're back now."
Despite there being no spectators on-course on Wednesday due to COVID-19 regulations, the win was every bit as exciting and satisfying as it would have been with a crowd for Hann.
"Absolutely and to win for these owners, it is a great thrill," he said.
"They've been so good to me.
"To win a race for them worth $50,000 with this for them here is great."
The win was Royal Tyke's fourth in 24 career starts for earnings of $81,223 and the first since his benchmark 58 success at Seymour in July last year.
Coffey, whose last Bendigo Cup day win was in 2019 aboard the Shane Fliedner-trained Hi Stranger, was as astonished as anyone at the turnaround in Royal Tyke.
"I got a bit of a shock myself with his turn-of-foot at the top of the straight. He had a lovely run and got into a lovely rhythm," he said.
"Going for a track gallop, I was able to sit off The Billionaire and we just maneuvered into the race at the right time.
"The Billionaire gave me a nice kick which gave me a good cart up.
"When we got around the bend I think he thought he was having a track gallop at home on a Tuesday. He let rip.
"It was a nice enough win but Kym said to me then that we might take a fair old hit in the ratings point, but that win today, and beating some nicer horses, he should be able to handle it and put a few more together."
A satisfying cup day for Hann included a third with his first-starter Extreme Emotion in the previous race to Royal Tyke.
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