Trainer Peter Moody claimed his first Wodonga Gold Cup victory after Akecheta scored a thrilling win in the $100,000 feature on Friday.
Ridden by Jason Benbow, Akecheta had never previously raced on heavy going.
Despite being untried in the conditions, punters rallied behind the Moody-trained runner with Akecheta starting the $2.90-favourite.
Favourite backers had their hearts in their mouths over the concluding stages before Akecheta showed plenty of fight to win narrowly.
It was Benbow's third Wodonga feature after previous wins aboard Jetconi (2011) and Reset (2015).
Moody, who watched the race from home, said the heavy (10) track was his biggest concern pre-race.
"I was obviously a bit concerned about the heavy ground when it presented," Moody said.
"I think last-start at Moonee Valley on the soft (6) was the worst that we've had him on.
"But he races on the pace and makes his own luck.
"Vungers - I didn't really expect him to head us to be honest.
"He probably didn't do us a lot of favours and my horse didn't get a breather but he really toughed it out and it was a good, honest effort."
Benbow pounced on the lead but copped plenty of pressure early in the race from Vungers who led all-the-way when winning the cup last year.
Vungers temporarily found the front before Akecheta regained the lead with 800m left to travel.
Despite doing plenty of work Akecheta pinched a break halfway down the home straight.
The early effort started to take its toll over the final 100m with Rainbow Thief ($5.50) and Ho Ho Khan ($31) charging late.
But Akecheta dug deep when it mattered to prevail by a long-head over Rainbow Thief.
Ho Ho Khan produced an eye-catching run to finish third a further short-head away.
Akecheta only arrived at Moody's Pakenham stables at the start of the year after racing predominantly on the NSW provincial circuit over sprint trips.
The son of So You Think has thrived under Moody with four wins and five placings from a dozen starts.
"The horse is owned by a great mate of mine in Anthony Gow-Gates," he said.
"Traditionally he is not the sort of horse that I would have taken on.
"His form over 1000-1200m wasn't good enough, so we had to think outside the circle.
"Hence the reason we stepped him up to 1400m and a mile and his high cruising speed has held him in good stead.
"I'm very pleased with the job he has done.
"He is a city winner, multiple provincial winner and now a Wodonga Gold Cup winner.
"I'm just upset I'm not there to celebrate with the crowd, it looks like they are having a great time on track."
David O'Prey was the only hometown trainer to have a runner with This Skilled Cat who finished sixth.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.