By Julieanne Horsman
Last time Luke Pepper came up to Canterbury a fortnight ago, he celebrated his first metropolitan quinella.
Viceroy (Hugh Bowman) trumped Erins Zar (Simon Miller) by half a length in the Schweppes Handicap (1250m) after a thrilling battle in the straight.
“Both horses ran up to where I thought they were and there couldn’t have been a more perfect outcome,” Pepper said enthusiastically.
“I was really happy with both horses’ performances.” The young Canberra trainer returns to Canterbury tomorrow with the same two horses, but this time he has split them up.
Viceroy will line up in the Schweppes Handicap over 1250m while Erins Zar will contest the Bowermans Office Furniture Handicap over 1100m.
“Both horses came through their last run well, especially Viceroy, he’s really come on from the run,” Pepper said.
“I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”
Pepper has again secured the services of leading Sydney jockey, Hugh Bowman, for Viceroy. With just half a win between him and Brenton Avdulla in the Metropolitan Jockey Premiership, Bowman will be doing everything he can to Viceroy across the line. He might need a bit of luck though with the gelding set to jump from barrier 15.
“We haven’t been blessed with good gates but Viceroy is a pretty adaptable horse,” Pepper said. “He can be ridden more quietly and then go forward.”
Viceroy steps up in class tomorrow but drops 2kg and Pepper has declared him a winning chance.
“He has the ability and the track is in better order than last time which is a bonus,” he said. “The gate is my main query but I will just let Hughey do his thing.”
Erins Zar had also drawn wide in barrier 13.
“It’s not as bad for him as in recent times we have changed his racing pattern and he has come along in leaps and bounds,” Pepper said. "He will naturally drift back and with a bit of luck he will get a crack at them late.”
Regular jockey Simon Miller will be aboard Erins Zar and they’ll be looking for their fourth win together.
Stablemate Volante (Brenton Avdulla) is also in the field and will start from barrier 14.
Erins Zar was given to Luke to train by owner/breeder Pat O’Brien. Mr O’Brien also bred consistent mare She Zar, who has won five times and placed five times in 16 starts, as well as their half-sisters Bank Of Erin and Away She Goes.
“Pat has been a great supporter of the stable and I’d love to get another good result for him.”