Megapixel has produced a bold effort to claim his first major jumps success in the $100,000 Australian Steeplechase (3400m) at Sandown Lakeside on Saturday.
The Warrnambool-trained steeplechaser competed bravely at the top level of jumpers at his past three starts but the gelding finished in the minor money in races such as the Von Doussa Steeplechase and Brierly Steeplechase.
Irish jockey Tommy Ryan picked up the ride on Megapixel after the six-year-old’s previous partner Steven Pateman decided to ride the Robert Smerdon-trained Fareer.
Ryan sent Megapixel (Zabeel) straight to the lead and the pair never saw another runner for the rest of the race. Megapixel gave his trainers Bill and Symon Wilde a few heart flutters when he took off early at a couple of jumps midrace but still proved too good for his opposition.
"You wouldn’t say he was an exceptional jumper but he’s a very quick jumper,” Bill Wilde said.
"Hopefully it is onwards and upwards with him. It’s his first season of jumping and he’s just a lovely horse to handle, he loves life and he loves jumping. We are thrilled.”
Ryan said Megapixel’s acceleration down the hill towards the 800 metres after a steady run in front proved to be the catalyst for his mount’s success.
"At the top of the hill, he just quickened and I said ‘Jesus, he’s away now’,” Ryan said. "When speedy chasers are jumping well like that, there’s no better buzz in the world.”
Megapixel beat the well-backed New Zealander Roodyvoo by eight lengths while Al Karam finished a further 3-1/2 lengths away in third spot. Megapixel started at $10 on track while the gelding returned $9.80 to his backers on the Victorian TAB. Megapixel covered the 3900-metre trip in 4:38.72 and his last 600 metres in 39.07 seconds.
Megapixel’s Australian Steeplechase success was the six-year-old’s fourth victory from 29 starts. The $62,000 first prize took the promising jumper’s prizemoney level to more than $135,000 for his owners A King, P Lynch, D Williams, L Mcarlein, P Dryden, Manic Racing, C Murphy, M Symons, M Hutson and J Reeves.