Cup win caps superb carnival for Nikolic
03 Aug 2012 | Brisbane trainer Liam Birchley provided Danny Nikolic with his second Coffs Harbour Gold Cup winner in three years on Thursday, capping a superb two days of riding by the Melbourne jockey.
Nikolic rode six winners over the two-day meeting, taking his tally of wins in the past three years at the Coffs Harbour carnival to12 including his 2010 Cup win on Mossurmi for Marc Conners.
Nikolic rode four winners at the 2010 carnival and a double in 2011 but surpassed those efforts this year with three winners on Wednesday and another treble on Thursday.
He only picked up the ride on Pepperwood after Glen Colless was ruled out of the carnival with an injury.
Nikolic's Thursday haul also included the feature sprint of the carnival, the Daniel Baker Memorial, on Symposium for local trainer Trevor Hardy.
"Coffs Harbour has been good to me. They invite me every year and I really enjoy it,” Nikolic said.
"The second Cup is a little bit more special than the first because I know a bit more about Coffs and I have developed a connection with the people.
"It has been a successful two days but you still need the horses to get the job done and luckily I have been on some quality rides."
Nikolic was in outstanding form, a feature of his riding being his fine judgement of pace on a track favouring the on pace runners.
All his winners raced in the first three around the home turn with the exception of Pepperwood, who was suited by a fast pace and came from midfield after Nikolic gained splits between runners over the last 300m.
Cup favourite Clever Hans was hailed as the winner when he hit the lead but Nikolic drove Pepperwood through on his inside in the last 200m to win running away by one and a half lengths.
Pepperwood , an accomplished Brisbane winner, was Birchley's first starter in a Coffs Harbour Cup and he vowed to return to the carnival next year with a big team.
It was a calculated gamble from Birchley to enter Pepperwood for the Coffs Harbour Cup after he decided to delay sending the horse for a spell.
"To be honest entering the Cup was a bit of an afterthought," he said.
"I was about to send him to the paddock after he struggled last start but when the opportunity to race at Coffs Harbour came up I jumped at the chance."
"I didn't know Danny Nikolic was even riding at the carnival and it was lucky that he was available to ride for me."
Birchley said there were no thoughts of retirement for the eight-year-old Pepperwood who has won 10 of his 56 starts and earned more than $965,000.
"He is a good horse but he's getting a bit hard to place,” Birchley said.
"He goes to the paddock for a while now and I aimi to bring him back for the Brisbane summer series.
"I'm hoping to crack a million dollars prizemoney with him.”
Local mare Erinsea finished a game third, edging out the topweight Youthful Jack for the minor placing.
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