By MATT MALONE, The Border Mail
A BRILLIANT Kayla Nisbet ride gave Albury trainer Brett Cavanough a second straight victory in the SDRA Country Championships Qualifier (1400m) at Wagga on Saturday.
Steakandbearnaise ($12) started as the roughest of Cavanough’s three hopes but upstaged a quality field to take out the $100,000 Southern District heat at Murrumbidgee Turf Club.
Steakandbearnaise edged out Wagga sprinter Mitchell Road ($21) in a fighting finish as both horses snared a place in the $400,000 Country Championships Final (1400m) at Royal Randwick in April.
Nisbet produced a marvel of a ride to land Steakandbearnaise in the ‘one out, one back’ position from barrier 15.
She hooked out in the straight and gradually wore down Mitchell Road, the bridesmaid again, in a thrilling duel down the straight.
The first two gapped the remainder of the field as Lord Von Costa ($6) worked home to finish 2½ lengths back in third.
He, Challenge Accepted, High Opinion and Overdue all made up good ground to fill third to sixth placings.
Cavanough admitted his strongest horse won.
“He didn’t surprise me, as much as the others were vulnerable at 1400 (metres),” Cavanough said.
“He was always going to be strong. The other day was just a non-race, he got held up in behind them.”
Steakandbearnaise has been in Cavanough’s stable since day one but has changed hands of ownership.
Former Wagga man Richard Pegum was one of the owners to sell the gelding, that is now raced by Lauren Cavanough, Peter Dempsey and Dean Luhrs.
“We had a big opinion of this horse early,” Cavanough said.
“He was owned by some really good mates of mine too, who are going to be a bit disappointed, but they sold him and we brought him back into the stable.
“He’s had a perfect prep.”
Cavanough has already given the ride in the final to Nisbet, who gladly accepted.
“She’s riding as good as anyone,” he said.
The bright-smiling Nisbet was thrilled with the win, albeit a little surprised.
“It’s really exciting, especially to win a race like this in the country because these are the people that support me a lot,” Nisbet said.
“Brett’s just started putting me on and it’s really good to be getting rides for him, especially winners.”
Steakandbearnaise is now back near his best and Cavanough is confident he will not be outclassed in the $400,000 final.