Favourite storms home to win Esperance Cup

Neale HarveyKalgoorlie Miner
Manavendra, trained by Daniel and Ben Pearce, pictured at Albany Racing Club last month with William Pike aboard.
Camera IconManavendra, trained by Daniel and Ben Pearce, pictured at Albany Racing Club last month with William Pike aboard. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser

Emerging gelding Manavendra will be set for the Albany Cup later this month after Sunday’s brilliant victory in the $100,000 Freight Lines Group Esperance Cup (2000m).

Manavendra ($3.40 favourite) scored by a half-length in Sunday’s showcase at the Esperance Bay Turf Club that delivered co-trainers Daniel and Ben Pearce their first cup win on the south coast.

Ninth at the turn, he blitzed his rivals on the outside to score from the Peter Fernie-trained Utgard Loki ($51), with Acermetric ($12) third.

The result broke a two-year hold on the race by trainer Adam Durrant, who was successful with Soviety Spy (2023) and Off Wego, and foiled Steve Wolfe’s bid for a sixth Esperance Cup triumph.

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“As a four-year-old, I think he’s just starting to work it all out and we’re starting to work out where he’s at,” Daniel Pearce said.

“He’s obviously shown now that he can run out a trip and run through a line over a staying trip — I think he’s going to improve as his racing manners improve and has a pretty bright future moving forward — starting with the Albany Cup (on March 31) from here.”

Success in the Esperance Cup capped off a big day in the saddle for Clint Johnston-Porter, who grabbed a treble after he was successful earlier with Josh Brown-trained Scottish Laird ($6.50) and Budgerigar ($2.40 favourite), trained by the Pearce brothers.

Joseph Azzopardi was successful aboard Profit Pocket ($2.70 favourite) and Fast Flicker ($2.60).

The Pearces maintain a busy schedule at their headquarters at Karnup, about 60km south of Perth, with 50 horses currently in work.

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