The Inverell Cup is back in local hands, following Renegade's epic victory in the $45,000 feature race at Inverell Jockey Club on Saturday.
The Wayne Oakenfull-trained seven-year-old was a class above his rivals in the 1400m Open Handicap, when taken to the front by jockey Danny Peisley before careering away for a comfortable 1.34 lengths victory from Trogir (Todd Payne and Courtney Bellamy) and Camp Rifle (Tony Newing and Matthew McGuren).
The victory was Oakenfull's first Inverell Cup success, and he said it was up there as one of his favourite wins as a trainer.
"I've had about three or four runners in the cup over the years and the closest I've ever got was a fourth," Oakenfull said.
"I'm a Moree born and bred fella, but I've been here 35 years and it is a race I wanted to win.
"It means a lot to finally win it and it's my favourite win for sure."
Despite the horror draw, Peisley guided Renegade to the front from gate 12, and the pair were never headed, leading from pillar to post.
"We were confident we could win until the barrier draw came out," Oakenfull laughed.
"When he drew the outside, I will be honest, we were really disappointed and worried he would get caught three and four deep.
"We nearly didn't run but after we put our heads together, we thought we would go to the front and take being three and four wide out of the equation and that's why we led on him."
Once In front, Oakenfull knew his gelding would be tough to run down.
"He looked very comfortable, and he skipped out and put two and a half (lengths) on them and I thought it would take a good horse to run him down," Oakenfull said.
"I had been working him with Amazingly that ran fourth and he is a good track worker, and he is too good for Amazingly each time they gallop, and he showed that on Saturday when winning."
While Oakenfull was proud to win his adopted hometown cup, the winning trainer was happiest for owner and former Inverell Jockey Club President, Paul Ehsman, who was finally able to lift his hometown cup.
"Paul is a past president of the club, and he has been trying to win the cup for years," Oakenfull said.
"I'm just happy he was able to win one with us."
Ehsman, who has been on and off the Inverell Jockey Club committee, serving stints as president and treasurer, said the victory was one of his biggest thrills as an owner.
"It's a dream come true," Ehsman said.
"It was one of the biggest thrills I've had. I've won races at Flemington, Doomben, Sydney, Kembla Grange and all over the place, and I have a good horse called Berdibek with John O'Shea, but this is one of the biggest thrills of my life.
"My mum and dad are involved, and it has always been my ambition to win an Inverell Cup and all the gratitude should go to Oakey (Wayne Oakenfull), because he did a great job to have this horse ready to win the cup."
Renegade was a $22,500 purchase off the Inglis Digital platform late last year and the Commands gelding was first-up for the Inverell stable on Saturday after previously racing with Tony and Calvin McEvoy in South Australia and Victoria.
"Oakey only had him for about three or four weeks after we purchased him, so it was a great training effort," Ehsman said.
"I honestly didn't want to run in the cup, but Oakey said we would have a crack and he knew what he was talking about, and he had him right.
"He has just done a marvellous job with this horse, and I can't believe how well he has done."
A tilt at the Ballina Cup is on the cards before taking on bigger races in Queensland.
"The big thing about him; he is seven-year-old, but he is a good racehorse," Ehsman said.
"He will race around Doomben and Eagle Farm, but Oakey said the Ballina Cup in two or three weeks is probably his next race.
"We are going to have a lot of fun with him."
The stable and Renegade's new owners received messages of congratulations from many camps on Saturday, including the gelding's previous trainers, the Tony McEvoy stable.
"Tony McEvoy's son sent a message of congratulations on Saturday night, and I appreciated it and so did all the other owners," Ehsman said.
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