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Graham Books Country Championships Berth With Victorem, Awesome Pluck

By Julieanne Horsman at Port Macquarie Racecourse.

Winning the Mid North Coast Country Championships heat is as easy as one, two, three! Just ask Jenny Graham. The Port Macquarie-based trainer scored the trifecta when Victorem, Awesome Pluck and Portatorio sailed past the winning post in their home track qualifier, picking up $127,000 in prizemoney between them.

Odds on favourite Victorem rewarded his mass of loyal supporters by bursting through and kicking away to win by more than a length.

“Everything worked out perfectly,” jockey Ben Looker said. “I was able to get in behind Awesome Pluck who I thought was my only danger. We straightened, I was able to work him into daylight and he did the rest.”

Victorem (Ben Looker) wins the Country Championships opener at Port Macquarie. Credit: Ivan Sajko - Port Macquarie News.

Awesome Pluck also booked a start in the $500,000 final at Royal Randwick with a fast-finishing run under the guidance Aaron Bullock. While he’s qualified several horses for the final in previous years, it’s the first time for both Jenny Graham and Ben Looker.

“It was just awesome,” Jenny Graham said, struggling for words and fighting back tears. “I was going to be really happy if I could get one, but to get two in, I just can’t believe it.”
“I was trying to watch three horses and at the end I didn’t know where they were!”

Patience with Victorem has paid off for both Jenny and Ben. His career got off to a less than ideal at Casino last May as he buck jumped out of the gates. Ben managed to hold on and brought him back under control to finish 4th. Since then he’s won all four starts including a 1000m TAB Highway at Royal Randwick in December. Ben has been aboard for all of those wins.

Jenny is yet to make a decision on where her horses will head between now and the Country Championships final at Royal Randwick on Saturday, 7th April.

Watch a replay of the MNCRA Country Championships Qualifier as well as all other races of the meeting here.

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