HE'S been there and done that, and on Friday night at Tabcorp Park Melton, the eight-year-old Sundons Courage turned back the clock to score his biggest win in four years.
Always a threat in any race he contests but without a win this season, the Chris Angove-trained trotter shocked his more fancied rivals to land a brilliant victory in the Group 2 Breeders Crown Graduate Trotters Free For All (2250m).
It just happened to be the Muckleford-trained eight-year-old and perennial free for all performer's first win since early November last year.
His 22 previous starts this season had yielded just five placings, most of them in top company.
Driven by the 'King of the Roughies' Michael Bellman, Sundons Courage had only two horses behind him at the top of the straight, but rocketed down the outside to swamp the field and record a 2.6m win at odds of 60-1.
Far from the longest-priced winner he has driven, Bellman revealed post-race on Trots Vision that he believed he was a winning chance 100m from home.
"I thought as long as nothing is coming back through to the inside of me, I should be alright, but he hit the line great," he said.
"Probably not using his early gate speed has probably helped his last few (starts) and it's only by barrier (draw) that it's happened that way.
"But he's probably got his confidence up a little bit too by hitting the line, feeling good, instead of having to do a bit of work and holding his own up front and then tiring late.
"Tonight, we had only one option on the turn and we had to take it.
"It's good that he is using his speed at the tail-end and not using most of it at the start.
"He's got a couple of strings to his bow and he deserved that tonight."
In a fascinating and fiercely contested race, Wobelee ($11) fought on bravely for second ahead of The Penny Drops ($26), with the $1.60 favourite Majestuoso having to settle for fourth.
The win continued an amazing record at Breeders Crown level for Sundons Courage, who has been trained at various intervals by Chris and his son Brad Angove.
He previously won the Breeders Crown repechage in his two-year-old year, finished second in the three-year-old final, won the four-year-old championship in 2017 and finished third in the graduate free for all in 2020.
The victory was even sweeter for Ararat-based Bellman, coming at such long odds.
"I've driven a couple that have got up at 140 and 150-1 - I always tell people they (horses) can't read the form guide or listen to the comments," he said.
"I never really worry about form too much. You can't put all the good ones in at good odds."
A wonderful campaigner for the Angoves from the get-go, Sundons Courage, who was bred by Brad, improved his career record to 23 wins and 28 placings from 118 starts for $354,305 in prize earnings.
A breakout season for young Bendigo driver Jack Laugher continued to gather momentum following an explosive victory aboard Im Ready Jet in the Group 2 Breeders Crown Championship for four-year-old trotting mares.
Anton Golino's emerging star trounced her opposition by scoring a breathtaking 23.6m win over the 2240m trip.
Laugher, who has notched up an astonishing 164 wins this year after 91 in the extended 2019-20 season, insisted it was the best of the two wins he has had in his association with the horse, eclipsing their August victory in the Group 3 Maori's Idol Trotters Free For All at Kilmore.
"The win at Kilmore was soft, but even though she sat without cover, we didn't run that mile that hard that night," he said.
"Tonight (Friday) we were bowling the last mile and she just ran away from them too easy.
"She was literally pulling away from them down the back and I was thinking, 'sit up girl, we'll probably want a breather', but she didn't want a bar of it."
The 22-year-old could not hide his big opinion of Im Ready Jet, who improved her record to 13 wins and six placings from 29 starts.
"When she is at her best like she was tonight and she was that night at Kilmore, she's in the top probably three or four trotters in Australia, just how she feels," he said.
"Her last few runs have been a little bit below par and Anton took her away and fixed a couple of issues up.
"She's come back tonight and was a better horse again."
Laugher was unlucky not to have added a second win on the night after Better Be The Bomb, driven by Kerryn Manning, turned the tables on the Julie Douglas-trained Torrid Saint in the NR 85 to 120 pace.
The margin was 1.5m, nearly the same as that enjoyed by Torrid Saint over his rival in their clash last Saturday night at Melton.
When she is at her best, she's in the top probably three or four trotters in Australia.- Jack Laugher
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.