Gardner nails Wagga Cup on first attempt

Joy turned to despair before returning to joy again as Canberra trainer Norm Gardner won the $140,000 listed Wagga Wagga Cup (2000 metres) at his first attempt yesterday.

When he saw his Arena stayer pull into the clear at the 200m mark he thought jockey Jeff Penza would salute aboard his five-year-old gelding.

But when he saw Tim Donnelly's Devised flash home down the outside he thought Coliseo had run yet another game place.

When the photo came back showing Coliseo ($11.80) had edged it by a nose it brought the joy flooding back.

Gai Waterhouse's $3.80 favourite Rain Drum was 1½ lengths further back for third, after appearing to have the race sewn up when well clear down the home straight.

But Rain Drum couldn't hold off the challengers storming down the outside


''At the 200m when he got clear in the running I thought we were home. Then I saw that [Devised] come down the outside, but when [Coliseo] got clear running like that I knew we [were a chance] because he can really sprint, he can really sprint 200m, so I thought we were a big chance then,'' Gardner said.

''[Then when Devised came flying home] I thought we were beat, I really thought we'd run second because where I was standing it looked like the other horse had got us on the line.

''I thought we were beaten and then I was just walking through the crowd thinking he'd run second and then they said No. 9 and I was very excited.

''I just thought here's another bloody placing for him.''

Coliseo has been ultra-consistent this preparation, with four wins and four places from his 11 runs this preparation including a third at the listed Canberra Cup (2000m).

Gardner will take his Arena five-year-old to the Melbourne Spring Carnival and target listed races there, possibly even a group 3.

He was delighted with the ride Penza produced, settling the gelding into the perfect spot before unleashing him in the straight.

''The horse was a bit fresher and he raced a bit keener, so he was able to put him into the race,'' Gardner said.

''The horse was getting a bit tired the last couple of Sydney runs.

''Damien Oliver told me to freshen him up a bit so I gave him five weeks between runs, the Canberra Racing Club was fantastic, they put on a couple of longer jump outs, give him a bit longer hitouts,''

Penza rated it as his best win to date.

''It's a career best for me. I'm very happy. Norm's got this horse firing well. He brought him back from 2400m to 2000m and knew he had to freshen him up,'' Penza said.

''I looked up mid-race and they were stretched out and they were wide apart and I thought we were going to get a nice run through hopefully. The speed was on and they came back to us.'' with AAP