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William Pike celebrates after riding Top Of The Range to victory in the Bendigo Cup.Source:AAP
William Pike, Australia’s most prolific winning jockey, has ended a 12-year drought in Victoria and snuffed out the Melbourne Cup aspirations of several horses with an inspired Bendigo Cup win on Top Of The Range.
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Winless on Victorian soil since the 2007 Warrnambool carnival, Pike admitted taking a long look at the judge’s official numbers before celebrating Top Of The Range’s narrow victory over Brimham Rocks and Hang Man.
Pike, 33, landed a nation-high 200 wins last year — 33 more than Brenton Avdulla — and showed precisely why he is revered across Australia with a breathtaking steer to arrive in the last few strides on Top Of The Range.
“I had to come back and double check my number was up there because I’ve had a lot of close seconds,” Pike said of his infrequent forays into Victoria.
William Pike and Top Of The Range (right) surge to the front in the Bendigo Cup.Source:AAP
“(I’m) very much a bridesmaid on my visits. Glad to get that off my back and hopefully just keep the form going over the carnival coming up.”
Top Of The Range broke Qewy’s track record in 2min27.41sec with a blistering late surge but is not in Melbourne Cup contention.
The Adelaide Cup runner-up will be given his opportunity at more modest targets after he virtually ended the Melbourne Cup hopes of Raheen House, Brimham Rocks and Sully, all of whom needed a win and a weight penalty.
Angel Of Truth, which is assured a Cup start, but trailed out to finish 11th.
Moroney, who produced the winner and third-placed Hang Man (James Winks), is uncertain where Top Of The Range heads next.
Pike returns to scale after taking out the Bendigo Cup.Source:AAP
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“He’s come of age. He’s never been easy. There’s been a lot go wrong throughout his career, but he’s starting to mature,” Moroney said.
“Great ride, actually both my horses were ridden well.
“Very much a bridesmaid on my visits. Glad to get that off my back and hopefully just keep the form going over the carnival coming up.”