The Steelform Roofing Group Waverley Cup is staying home for another year as local horse Sergeant Blast just refused to lie down by leading the wet 2200m feature from near start to finish this afternoon.
The bay gelding, who turned seven last week , took a four length lead out of the first turn and then defeated multiple challenges coming around the back stretch, before somehow finding yet another second wind as the field spread out for a pulsating final dash.
Promising northern apprentice Chelsea Burdan defended the guard rail for dear life as Hawera's Nitro Ted (Leah Hemi) had one last crack but couldn't haul them in.
Having been sitting at the rear after the first turn, race favourite Beyond The Fort (Dylan Turner) had to charge from far wide to finish third, denying Waverley trainer Bill Thurlow a consecutive cup win after he claimed the silverware in 2018 with the future Auckland Cup winner Glory Days.
At the 1200m in the rainy conditions, Sergeant Blast felt the first challenge coming from Whanganui's Kevin Myers-trained Overtheriver (Johnathan Parkes), followed by Pep Torque (Charlotte O'Beirne).
Overtheriver had come to the outside by the 900m, but couldn't pull ahead, so Hi I'm Nikkita (Robert Hannam) was the next to move into second, passing the tiring chaser, as Sergeant Blast just continued to hold his line.
Bunched, the field went very wide coming down the home stretch as Sergeant Blast put in another burst to maintain the lengths advantage, and although Nitro Ted leapt out from the pack and began eating up the distance, he had run out of racecourse by the finish.
It was Sergeant Blast's seventh win in 30 starts for the ownership group of trainer Sam Lennox, brother Guy Lennox, Wayne Crowley and the Stewart's – Chas and Cam.
Mobbed with hugs in the owner's area, Sam Lennox could only marvel at the courage for Sergeant Blast to just keep fighting back every time a runner came to his outside.
"It was a plan, probably from nominations, to lead. When we ended up with 51 kilos, it was the only option," he said.
"But I must admit, I wasn't that happy going down the back, I thought we'd gone way too big and Bill's horse was looping and I thought he'd gather us up quick.
"Just a massive thrill to win the cup."
The victory was testament to perseverance both on and off the track, as it had taken a bit of work to get the 7-year-old back into some form since returning from Australia.
"He really deserves this, he hasn't sort of had a lot of things go his way," said Lennox.
"Always been thinking about getting him over the ground and it was sort of taking us so long, and everything was lined up [for] the Waverley Cup.
"He could be a handy little star, he really lit up."
The punters pocketed $9.20 for the upset win, while after being the $2.10 favourite on the back of winning four of her six starts, Thurlow will look at his plans for Beyond The Fort.
The home town trainer, who won a Waverley and Wanganui Cup double last year with Glory Days, was looking for a repeat with Beyond the Fort, and possibly even continuing the same pathway from there.
"We are looking at the Auckland Cup with Beyond The Fort," he had said before today's race.
"We are pretty open-minded about it, but whether it is a year too soon for her with a race like the Auckland Cup, I am not quite sure.
"We have just got to play it by ear and see how we go. There is a possibility that she could follow that same path as Glory Days."
"She has come back well as a four-year-old, but it took her a while.
"She just didn't really come up as quickly as we would have liked, but having said that, we didn't put any pressure on her and we just waited for her.
"We are pretty happy with her now."
The Wanganui Cup is on November 30.
There was some sadness at the Waverley track this afternoon, as 5-year-old bay mare Youllbefine died during the running of Race 5.