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If they were giving out awards for toughness then trainer Ray Gavin believes his talented winter galloper Bullybrook would be at the head of the queue.
The five-year-old son of Bullbars took on open company at Te Rapa on Saturday and at the venue where he posted a winning double last winter, he again showed his prowess on heavy surfaces to post his fifth career victory.
Sent out at +350 in the 1400m contest, apprentice Eilish Bragg (nee McCall) plotted a path down the middle of the home straight to hold out a determined challenge from Diogenes by a nose at the line.
Trainer and part-owner Ray Gavin had been expecting a good performance but just wasn’t sure if his charge could take the step up into open company.
“We expected a good run but first time in open company, there is always a doubt,” he said.
“His work this week had been so good and he just loves the track.
“Eilish really knows him, rides him all his work and she did a super job today.”
Gavin has been rewarded with his patience with the five-year-old who hasn’t been an easy pupil in his career so far.
“He is a real tough bugger and he has tested us on plenty of occasions,” he said.
“He just loves it when the tracks get deep as it takes the speed out of the others and he can just fight on.
“He has had quite a few issues, but we seem to have him right now and hopefully he can go on with it.
“He is not an overly big horse so the weight might get to him, so we aren’t going to make any decisions on what we do next until we see what sort of points for his rating that he gets from today.”
Raced by Gavin and Evan Jenkins, a friend from Gavin’s school days, Bullybrook was a $30,000 purchase out of the Regal Farm draft at the 2018 Ready To Run Sale at Karaka and has now won five of his 20 starts.