CHAMPION Sydney trainer Chris Waller captured his fourth Wagga Gold Cup as English import Aleas captured one of the great finishes to the feature race.
Comeback kid Chad Schofield got everything out of the $4.60 favourite to claim a thrilling three-way finish to the $200,000 D & S Taber Electrical Wagga Gold Cup (2000m).
In victory, Aleas' denied two local apprentice jockeys the perfect homecoming as Young's Tyler Schiller on Dream Runner ($61) finished a half neck away in second, with Wagga's Josh Richards a further short head back in third on Five Kingdom ($10).
Aleas looked to have the race in his keeping when he loomed up to the lead at the 200 metre mark but was made to work past the two Canberra stayers, who dug in for one hell of a fight.
Waller has a big opinion of Aleas and was thrilled to capture the Wagga Gold Cup for the fourth time in the last eight years.
"It was a great thrill to win the Wagga Cup, as it is a race that I certainly respect," Waller told The Daily Advertiser.
"A great rural town with great history and creates a lot of attention each year so it's one of the few country cups we target and we'll be looking for one next year as well.
"With Aleas, he's only been here for the two previous runs, today was his third Australian start, he was given a lovely ride and was too strong in the straight.
"I think he's a horse with a bright future and a horse that we'll be looking at some better races in the spring."
For Schofield, it completed the big three at Wagga after winning the 2011 Town Plate on How Much My Love as a 16-year-old.
"Yeah it was good. My first biggest race I ever won was here in the Town Plate. I think I was 16," Schofield said.
"I think I've won the Guineas, the Town Plate and now the Cup. And I think I've only ridden here three times.
"It was nice to come back and ride a nice horse like him. My manager told me he was a good ride and worth coming up so thanks to the Chris Waller stable so I'm happy I could come down and win on him."
It was an important win for Schofield, who returned to Australia from Hong Kong earlier this year but is yet to find his feet in the competitive Sydney jockey ranks.
"It's definitely significant," he said.
"I haven't been back all that long and I haven't quite hit the ground running like I'd hoped but I rode a winner for Chris Waller last Saturday, now him, and I've got some nice rides for him (on Saturday) so I feel like I'm starting to get going a little bit and opportunities like that certainly help."
As for the three-horse war over the final 100 metres, Schofield paid credit to the placegetters.
"When I let him go at the top of the straight, I thought he would win by three lengths," he said.
"But to the other horses credit, they really quickened sharply. We had to fight but to my blokes' credit, he fought them off and it was a good win."
Both Aleas and Dream Runner have now qualified for the $2 million Big Dance in November.
Canberra trainer Keith Dryden was proud of Dream Runner's performance.
"Very happy with that. I'm disappointed we didn't win, I thought the horse was a great chance. I don't often have a bet but I had $50 each-way myself because he was $81," Dryden said.
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