Caitlyn Keeping set the track alight during her heat and backed that up in a big way in the series decider, Charmine Roberts’ star flying home on a wet track to seal a dominant Ladbrokes Bathurst Gold Cup Final (520 metres) win on Friday night.
Caitlyn Keeping ($2.40 favourite), trained at Dubbo, entered the final as the fastest qualifier and was touted as the best chance to lead the field around the opening turn, the only question being whether she could maintain that advantage for the rest of the race.
She did just that, she led past the winning post the first time and the box three starter never looked troubled during the remainder of the $15,000 final at Kennerson Park either.
Even so it was probably Paul Braddon’s Double Up Dee ($10.90) that produced the run of the race to finish second while the Orange-trained Kitboolou Corza ($28) was outstanding in finishing third despite her long odds as well.
It wasn’t a race to remember for the next best-backed runners of the race, Oxley Rebel ($7.40) and Little Digger ($2.60), which came across early trouble and had no chance of figuring in the winning picture. They were fourth and fifth respectively.
“We’re over the moon. She’s improved heaps,” Roberts said of Caitlyn Keeping, although she admitted the rain leading in was a slight worry.
“We do need the rain badly but it’s not good on race night, and certainly for a front-runner like her. You don’t want backmarkers like Little Digger chasing us but luckily for us they copped a check and were spat out the back.
Outside of a scorching Caitlyn Keeping, the Glen Prestwidge-trained Kitboolou Corza was one of the best runners away and managed to hold out Que Fever for second going into the opening turn.
Inside starters Little Digger and Oxley Rebel came together along the rail and wiped off speed during the journey through the bend.
Double Up Dee looked a little lost during the early stages of the race but recovered around outside of the field to offer up a challenge to Kitboolou Corza across the back of the track.
Caitlyn Keeping extended her lead to four lengths on the bend for home and had more than enough left in reserve to hold off the field over the closing 100m.
Her winning time in the rainy weather was 29.94 seconds, only four hundredths shy of the time she qualified with.
The win is Caitlyn Keeping’s biggest since her $55,000 Black Top Final win last August.
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