Kerryn Manning has climbed many mountains during her illustrious harness racing career.
But last night, the trailblazing horseperson reached her Everest by winning the Gr.1 $400,000 Del-Re National Food Group Hunter Cup at TABCORP Park, Melton with New Zealand bred gelding Arden Rooney.
Landing a perfect trail, Arden Rooney ($82.90) defeated Franco Ledger ($43.70) and Easy On The Eye ($101) in the 3280m stand-start marathon.
Race favourite Adore Me galloped away hopelessly at the start and took no competitive part.
Manning took over the training of the Bettors Delight gelding from champion horseman Mark Purdon last month and primed the noted stayer for the country’s biggest staying test.
“This is unbelievable; this is such a huge thrill. I was happy with him going into the event and we landed a great spot and the constant speed really helped us, he’s a great stayer who is a little under-estimated.” Manning declared.
With Philadelphia Man stepping away quickly to lead from his inside draw, Arden Rooney was able to secure the position on the back of the leader while many of the more favoured runners began awkwardly.
Adore Me galloped immediately and Christen Me was forced to dodge other runners that also failed to step away safely while Guaranteed and Terror To Love made safe beginnings.
The lead time was covered in 126.5 seconds.
Philadelphia quickly started to over race and carved out cracking sectionals while his rivals chased determinedly.
With Philadelphia Man racing fiercely, Arden Rooney enjoyed a beautiful sit right behind the speed while Christen Me and Guaranteed sat handy to the frantic pace.
Kiwi star Terror To Love made a forward move and raced without cover while Restrepo was left exposed three-wide.
The first half of the final mile was covered in 28 seconds before easing slightly to 29.7 seconds.
Entering the back straight for the final time, Philadelphia Man had his rivals off the bit and no moves were made from back in the field while Terror To Love was the first to crack under pressure.
The third quarter was covered in 28.4 seconds.
At the top of the home straight, Arden Rooney quickly raced past Philadelphia Man while Easy On The Eye, Smudge Bromac made ground via inside runs.
Christen Me started a sprint wider on the track while Franco Ledger was last as the field swung for home.
But Arden Rooney dug deep and held his rivals while Franco Ledger charged home to grab second from Easy On The Eye holding third.
The final quarter was timed in 28.6 seconds.
It was a new race record, the 4;01.2 resulted in a stunning mile rate of 1;58.4.
Arden Rooney is raced by Merv and Meg Butterworth, great supporters of the industry.
The victory provided Kerryn Manning with her biggest moment in the sport as a trainer and driver, just recently, the internationally successful horsewoman was awarded the Gordon Rothacker Medal, HRV’s highest individual honour.