Canberra trainer Luke Pepper savours his own 'Melbourne Cup win'
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Canberra trainer Luke Pepper savours his own 'Melbourne Cup win'

Luke Pepper nearly retired the best horse he's ever trained two months ago but decided to give seven-year-old Appoint Percy "one more crack".

Pepper revamped Appoint Percy's training program and after placing first-up in Canberra two weeks ago, the New Zealand gelding won his first race in more than two and half years on Tuesday.

Apprentice jockey Courtney Gravener wins race six aboard Woollahra Lass at Thoroughbred Park on Tuesday.

Apprentice jockey Courtney Gravener wins race six aboard Woollahra Lass at Thoroughbred Park on Tuesday. Credit:Dion Georgopoulos

It was an emotional victory which Pepper said was "like winning the Melbourne Cup" after Appoint Percy proved half a length too good for Vigorish in race four at Thoroughbred Park.

"It was a long road to get him back to the races so it feels like winning the Melbourne Cup with him today, just a great result," Pepper said.

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"He won a Highway [Handicap] very comfortably [in February 2016] and is honestly the best horse I've ever trained but unfortunately we had a lot of issues with him.

"We nearly retired him last prep but decided to have one last crack and changed the program upside down. He ran extremely well first-up and then to come and win today was unbelievable."

Pepper wasn't sure where Appoint Percy would head next but confirmed all plans to retire him had been shelved and said the victory meant plenty to his stable.

"We had some doubts bringing him back but everything he showed us at home was great. He had a nice jump out at home and it was just a matter if he could put it together on race day," Pepper said.

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"He was extremely tough first-up which gave me a lot of confidence and it was a great ride from Nicky Heywood, he was always going to be hard to run down.

"The staff have done an amazing job with the horse, it's been a massive team effort to get him right and Emma who rides all his work has done an amazing job. It meant a lot to the stable to get him back winning today."

Pepper then backed it up in race six to make it two wins from two runners on the day after Woollahra Lass got home thanks to a terrific ride from apprentice jockey Courtney Gravener.

"I was a bit surprised with the second one, she's been racing well but we got a great ride from the young girl and the claim probably got us past post," Pepper said.

Heywood backed up to win the win the $50,000 Federal by four lengths aboard Joe Ible's five-year-old mare Ons Vier.

Canberra jockey Kayla Nisbet was the star hoop on Melbourne Cup day after she won three of the opening five races in Canberra.