Luke McCarthy was somewhat concerned after an 11th hour field change in Thursday night's Kriden Park Shirley Turnbull Memorial (2,790 metres) which resulted in his charge Alta Orlando being pushed from gate six to eight.
He needn't have worried, it mattered little.
McCarthy stayed composed and promptly guided the Craig Cross-trained star to his first Australian Group 2 success at $4.20 odds, holding off crowd favourite Our Uncle Sam ($6.50) in an enthralling sprint for the line.
The victory remains a sentimental one for McCarthy too and comes after he claimed the now-$51,000 race's top spot in 2015 as well, saluting with Bling It On four years ago.
I used to spend every weekend at Steve and Jenny Turnbull's place, they're like second parents to me so to win this race is always a big thrill.Luke McCarthy
"I grew up in Bathurst and I used to spend every weekend at Steve and Jenny Turnbull's place, they're like second parents to me so to win this race is always a big thrill," McCarthy said.
"[Alta Orlando is] getting better with every race in Australia. When the field came out and he got the six I thought he'd get to the front because he's got good gate speed, but after the redraw I got eight and thought it'd be a lot harder.
"I though Our Uncle Sam Would lead and I'd maybe be behind him in the one-one, or if My Field Marshal moved then maybe the one-two.
"After 200 the race changed complexion completely when Our Uncle Sam didn't get out strong and Tiger Tara came through so I had to go back, but with the speed that was on it probably worked out to be the best spot."
Harjeet was actually pushed hard to the lead by James Rattray as Our Uncle Sam fought for the death seat, that was plucked away by another of the home-track hopes Courtinsession though.
My Field Marshal, a $3.60 favourite, and Alta Orlando sat at the tail of the outside line and with a mile to go, as McCarthy said, former Inter-Dominion champion Tiger Tara tore through to challenge for the lead.
Rattray gave Harjeet a kick as, with the bell ringing in the background, My Field Marshall, Alta Orlando and Our Uncle Sam took up the running in chase of the leaders, although Tiger Tara inexplicably fell out of the race at that point.
With 200 to go it looked a race of five as Make Way tore down the inside to snatch the lead from Harjeet, with My Field Marshall pushing along strongly mid-track.
McCarthy was moving Alta Orlando down the outside though and cleared the brave Make Way, which finished third at $23, in the closing strides, although Our Uncle Sam also hit the line well and with a longer trip probably would have saluted.
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