Henry Dwyer’s Sonntag comprehensively won the 2017 Ararat Gold Cup on Sunday.
The seven-year-old gelding turned back the clock to claim the 2000-metre race and pick up the $27,500 prize money.
Victory was never in doubt for Sonntag, who was quick out of the gates and led the race from start to finish.
The cup win is likely to have been Sonntag’s second-last race. Dwyer said Sunday would have been Sonntag’s final race had he not won.
“It was probably the fork in the road for him,” he said.
“If he hadn’t have won, we would have retired him. We will retire him after his next race at the Ballarat Cup.
“He will go out on a good note there – I would rather retire him at the top of his game.”
Dwyer said the cup-winning horse means a lot to him.
“He (Sonntag) is a pretty special horse,” he said.
“We have had a great run with him and he has provided plenty of enjoyment for plenty of people.
“He was one of the first horses I had when I started training.”
Paul Preusker’s Bling Dynasty finished one and a half lengths back in second place, with Darren Weir’s Crafty Devil coming third.
It was a tough day for local trainers, with trainers Dwyer and Weir dominating the placings across the eight races.
Aeratus, ridden by jockey Ben Thompson, won the richest race of the day, the China Bowl, for Colac trainer Kylie Vella.
The day saw near perfect conditions, with the thermometer cracking the 30-degree mark and the track being upgraded to a good three after the fourth race.
Ararat Turf Club manager Adam Atchison said he was happy with how it ran.
“It went really well and it was the best weather we have had in five years,” he said.
“The track raced perfectly and we had no complaints from jockeys or trainers.”
The club had to deal with minor complications, with the new air-conditioning system in conjunction with extra cooking equipment causing the power to cut out early in the day.
“We quickly swung the generator into action to make sure we got power back as quickly as possible,” Atchison said.
“We will look at how we can balance the power more evenly for our next meet.”
Despite the power issue, Atchison said the feedback he has received has been positive.
“We were up on gate takings from last year and I would say we had about 1700 people attend,” he said.
“Our water slide and petting zoo for the kids was a big hit.”
The club will have a hiatus until its next meet on Friday, January 19.