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Outback champ

Monday, 30th March, 2009

A crowd of thousands witnessed what was arguably the biggest win in local racing history on Saturday, as Nozi held off a surging field to claim his third successive Outback Cup. The seven year-old gelding brought the crowd to its feet with the history-making run, surpassing previous back-to-back winners Wild Vision (1992-93) and Fascinating Rhythm (1979-80). The win proved to be Nozi's toughest on the local track, as he struggled on the the soft dirt despite jumping well from the inside barrier. His rivals had no interest in conceding the firm ground in the track's centre, and by the 1000 metre mark Nozi was trailing a length behind top-rated Satara, with Double Cover in hot pursuit.

As the horses approached the home turn jockey Paul Denton made his move and took Nozi into the lead as Swepscay and Double Cover began to fade, but was immediately challenged by an emerging Dandy Jester and Greg. The fast-finishing Strathalbyn duo couldn't eclipse a determined Nozi however, as he held on to win by half a head and stake a claim as one of the greatest horses to take to the local track. Trainer Paula Trenwith was elated after the win, and said the Cup victory was the culmination of months of planning. "I'm rapt, I'm thrilled - absolutely ecstatic. It's been my aim since the Darwin Cup last year," she said. "Virtually straight after that race that day, I said 'I'm setting him for the Broken Hill Cup to try and win three in a row. No horse has ever done it, let's try and create a bit of history.'"

Ms Trenwith said the victory was a credit to Nozi and jockey Paul Denton, who worked hard to get the horse off the rail and into the lead. "We drew the worst barrier in one, most other times it would be the best barrier but here the track was bit heavy on the inside. "We knew we had speed in two and three outside us in Dandy Jester and Greg, both speed horses. I knew they'd try and keep us in, which they all did, they all saw us as the horse to beat and all tried to keep us on the worst part of the track. "But Paul was able to switch onto the harder part of the track, and (Nozi) was just courageous and didn't give up."

The emphatic win had media and race officials hailing Nozi as "the Makybe Diva of the bush", but Ms Trenwith played down the comparison. "Oh I don't know about that," she laughed. "But he deserves it all, he's an unbelievable competitor on these country tracks, he just loves it. He's a champion of this race now." Jockey Paul Denton agreed, saying the horse had battled on bravely after what had been a difficult run leading into the home straight. "It's a great horse, we might only be in the bush but he's a bush legend. For any horse to come back and win it three times carrying the weight he does is a tremendous effort," he said. "It was harder than last year... I just had to work on him a long way from home, just trying to keep him in front of the leader because he kept pushing us back into the heavy dirt and I just wanted to stay two or three off.

"Around the 600 I thought we were in a bit of trouble, but he's just got such a big heart... It's probably one of the best (wins) I've had on him." Trenwith and Denton went on to finish the day in style, notching a double in the final race of the day as Bravely crossed the line first in the Best Buy Electrical and Electrolux Handicap. Local trainers also scored their fair share of wins, with Menindee's Wayne Marsden taking out the opening race. Under A View held off Petalulu and Leben Unred in the Slater and Gordon Maiden Plate to give Mr Marsden an ideal start to the day. "It was very pleasing, it's the first start I've had with the horse, I've only had it for three months," said Mr Marsden.

"She jumped from the outside barrier and got caught three wide, but I think it played in her favour as the going was a lot better, and she finished off very well. "She'd been working really well and I kept her really fresh and it's paid off for me. "I'm really thrilled for the stableworkers and the owners... I just talked to them on the phone and they're ecstatic." Trainer and owner Mick Wayman was the next local to enter the winners' circle, when the ever-popular Uncle Willy stormed home in the Shannon Electrics Handicap ahead of Count Cheval and Lotto Blues. Although the ten year-old gelding began drifting back towards the pack after making a strong start, Mr Wayman said the run had gone according to plan.

"We work him that way, we let him do his own thing until the 400 home, then make him dash down the straight once he balances up," said Mr Wayman. "I knew on the turn he wouldn't give it away, he doesn't know how to get beat, this horse... It's just great to have a win with an old fella like him." Meanwhile individual honours on the day went to Merv Rumble (Leading Trainer) and Greg Ryan (Leading Jockey).

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