Super-fit Peppermint takes step up in stride
Peppermint was not one of the four-year-olds on everyone's lips yesterday, but the Caspar Fownes-trained gelding did make the climb into Class Three a successful one.
The single ratings point Peppermint (Mark du Plessis) had collected for his late-finishing second in Class Four on December 27 had pushed the son of Keeper up a division, but Fownes agreed that might have been a blessing in disguise after all.
After having to give up big starts under top weight in the lower grade, Peppermint dropped to 115 pounds in the Kut Cheong Handicap (1,600m) and Fownes impressed on his jockey the need to use that edge.
'Mark rode him terrific. He's not a horse you can bustle early, but he never draws a gate so he's been so far back in his other races and had plenty to do with big weights and it has been too tough,' Fownes said.
'He didn't draw well again today but this time, with a light weight, I said to Mark the horse is very fit, he runs the mile right out and not to be afraid to make a bit of use of him before the turn and put him into the race.'
Peppermint had crossed over early to a place just behind midfield, and Du Plessis steadied him there until the 500m. Then he eased out three wide and stoked up the gelding to start a finishing run that he continued right down to the line to claim a neck victory over Athenium, on which Du Plessis, ironically, had been the regular rider this season until yesterday's event.
'With that weight, the thing I didn't want was to be seeing him come too late again,' Fownes said. 'Peppermint is not a star but he's been consistent without everything going his way a lot of the time and earned a cheque almost every run. I think he's still progressive where he is in the ratings and he'll pay his way in Class Three.'
The weight which the Caspar Fownes-trained Peppermint carried to victory in Class Three