By Tony Megahey
Comeback Kiwi galloper Appoint Percy is the forgotten horse of the booming TAB Highway series and offers a career-defining occasion for young trainer Luke Pepper in the $100,000 TAN Highway Consolation (1400m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Amidst the class and theatre of The TAB Everest day, outsider Appoint Percy ($34 with TAB fixed odds) has recovered from severe injury to take on a strong country field. The large $200,000 prizemoney offered for the TAB Anniversary Handicap resulted in record nominations and an extra race to accommodate by Racing NSW on the grand day.
Appoint Percy, who narrowly missed a start in the Anniversary, was rated a city class performer landing a plunge impressively in winning a 1600m Highway at Randwick in February last year. He progressed to be placed at Warwick Farm and Canterbury Park.
But then a pelvic fracture was career threatening and ‘Percy’ was out of racing for seven months.
“It has been really long and frustrating getting him back near where he used to be - it seems to happen with the good ones. But he’s finally going well enough again to have a crack at that big prizemoney,” Pepper said.
“He promised Saturday city class before he went amiss. We’d considered the Brisbane winter carnival after that big Randwick win and super runs with big weights in city midweeks.
“We’re satisfied his confidence has returned and his form is on the up this prep. We’re weighted okay, he’s as sound as could be again. His last run at Moruya, we claimed off 62 kilos, he felt it late but it was something like his best and he drops to 56kg. At his best, a 1600m winner at Randwick, indicates he can close it off strong at 1400m.”
Early in the season Pepper, a prolific south coast Cups and Riverina feature winner, ran a Canterbury quinella with Viceroy and Erin’s Zar after winning earlier at the circuit with Narooma Cup winner Marquee.
Pepper, the former travelling companion and trackwork rider for the famed Takeover Target, was previously foreman for Barbara Joseph and Nick Olive, also represented in the Anniversary. As is Luke’s close mate, 10-time Highway winner Matt Dale.