Coffs Habour trainer Warren Gavenlock has broken his city duck at Rosehill on Golden Eagle day with a horse lucky to be there.
Sent out the $6 equal favourite, Plonka bounded away at the 200m to take out Saturday’s Highway Handicap (1200m) by 1-1/2 lengths over Gumshoe with Zardoro a short-head further back after coming out of the gates last.
It was a milestone moment for Gavenlock, who has waited many moons for a metropolitan winner.
“First win, first city winner,” he said.
“We’ve had a few placings down here before, but that’s our first one.”
The victory is made more remarkable by Plonka’s path to the big stage, with Gavenlock revealing the horse almost died.
“He was real crook,” he said.
“When he was broken in and educated they had lots of problems with him at Randwick.
“They had X-rays. They didn’t know what was quite wrong with him when he landed with me.
“One day he’d be good, the next day he’d be sore. It worked out that his feet were growing concave instead of flat.
“So every time he hit the ground it hurt.”
But Gavenlock’s patience paid off as Plonka won a maiden at Tamworth this autumn and then a Class One handicap at Port Macquarie last month.
“I’ve got to congratulate the owners and their patience,” he said.
“I don’t do this without the team behind me. It’s a credit to the whole staff.”
The four-year-old gelding will likely head to the paddock for a spell before an assault on the Country Championships next autumn.
But his ever-patient trainer will make a final call once he returns up the Pacific Highway.
“I don’t make decisions at the races,” Gavenlock said.
“Let’s go home and sort him out.”