RESTREPO gave trainer Emma Stewart one of the biggest thrills of her career by taking out the group 1 $175,000 PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup, 2710m, on Saturday night.
Restrepo ($10.20) ran down New Zealand hotshot Christen Me ($4.90) to nail him by a half head, with Caribbean Blaster ($5.50) another half head away third in track record time.
The five-year-old rated 1:56.8 to smash the previous record of 1:57.3 set by Stunin Cullen in the 2011 Ballarat Pacing Cup.
Restrepo gives the Smythes Creek-based Stewart and partner Clayton Tonkin their second win in the race.
Safari completed a hattrick of hometown Ballarat Cup victories in 2008, following Robin Hood in 2006 and Sting Lika Bee in 2007.
Gavin Lang was at his masterly best in the sulky on Restrepo.
Patient as always, Lang found himself near the tail of the field after a string of moves in an ever-changing race.
Hoping to flush out a rival and secure a trail, Lang took Restrepo three-wide approaching the bell (1000m mark), but nothing moved in front of him and he soon at Caribbean Blaster and The Gold Ace behind him.
It then went down to a test of strength, with Restrepo using his developing staying powers to land his second group 1 success.
Lang said he had hoped to get a trail, but when it did not eventuated he was still confident Restrepo would be strong enough to salute.
“He had to do on his own.
“It’s great for a local horse to win the race, a race which had grown in stature.” He said.
While Safari was a massive thrill for Stewart and Tonkin, one which they though they would never experience again, Stewart said this was right up with it.
Restrepo will now press on to the $400,000 AG Hunter Cup, 3280m, at Melton next Saturday night.
The son of Art Major, which was a boom two and three-year-old, now has 17 wins in 32 starts for almost $440,000.
His previous group 1 win was in the $100,000 Coca-Cola Sprint at Menangle in November, a victory which secured him a start in the Miracle Mile.
Restrepo is the only foal of lightly raced mare Shes Innocent to race.
Shes Innocent is a half-sister to Innocent Eyes, which won 18 races for $421,000 in stakes.
THE Ballarat Pacing Cup was one of the most dramatic in years:
# Keayang Cullen provided the first surprise by using superior gate speed to cross The Gold Ace ($2.60 favourite) and leading.
# Smoken Up then took the lead.
# The Gold Ace angled off the pegs and moved forward three-wide
# Christen Me made mid-race move three-wide to get into the deathseat and give The Gold Ace a trail.
# Smoken Up drifted off the pegs going into the last turn.
# Keayang Cullen moved up on the side of Smoken Up, only to be checked when the gap closed
# Matthew Craven (fifth on Keayang Cullen) successfully protested against fourth past the post Smoken Up. Stewards adjourned an inquiry into the incident.
HOW THEY FINISHED:
10.20 RESTREPO Gavin Lang
4.90 CHRISTEN ME Dexter Dunn
5.50 CARIBBEAN BLASTER Kate Gath
Others in order:
29.70 Keayang Cullen
6.70 Smoken Up
2.60 fav The Gold Ace
112.oo Uncle Wingnut
96.10 Field Officer 163 Hugo Play
119 Wartime Sweetheart
63.90 Pass Them By
RESTREPO completed a winning double for Emma Stewart in Ballarat and was of five winners for her on the night.
She also had a treble at Mt Gambier.
Another rising topliner Guaranteed ($1.20 favourite) was guided to victory by Gavin Lang in the PETstock Assist C6/better Pace, 2200m.
The stable winners at Mt Gambier were Celebrity Lass ($1.40 favourite) in a 3yo/older, 1790m; Hexham Heartbeat ($1.10 favourite) in an R2-R4 pace, 2190m; and Major Secret ($1 favourite) in the Mt Gambier Derby, 2190m.