A year is a long time in racing.
Just ask Cambridge horseman Ross Paynter.
His richly talented trotter Lemond stood tall to claim his maiden Gr.1 success when successful in the $102,000 H R Fisken & Sons Anzac Cup at Alexandra Park, Auckland tonight (Friday).
In the corresponding event last year, Lemond went agonisingly close to claiming the feature before going down by a half-head margin to star mare Habibti Ivy.
It was an ecstasy to agony moment for connections.
But upon reflection, it has only made the Love You gelding stronger.
In his next 15 starts, Lemond has won 5 times including taking his first piece of major silverware and now joins the honour roll that includes I Can Doosit, Stent, Superbowlcheerleader, Sheemon, Monbet and Habibti Ivy.
Lemond now becomes the first North Island trained trotter to claim the feature which was first staged back in 2012.
Handled by regular reinsman Maurice McKendry, Lemond charged the gate and quickly led the 2200m mobile start feature while race favourite Enghien drifted back from gate two.
As the field headed down the back straight on the first occasion, Lemond handed the lead over to Bordeaux which left him poised in a striking position.
The lead time was covered in 43.1 seconds.
Bordeaux was allowed to cruise in the lead role and strolled through the first quarter of the final mile in 32.3 seconds.
Enghien was pulled three-wide entering the bell lap and quickly raced alongside of Bordeaux with 1000m remaining.
The second quarter was covered in a leisurely 31.7 seconds.
Entering the back straight, Bordeaux led the way from Enghien with Lemond perfectly positioned in the trail while the strongly fancied Temporale and Speeding Spur sat off the pace.
Passing the 600m marker, Bordeaux rolled off the inside which presented a dream run for Lemond while Enghien was forced to cover extra ground.
Temporale followed Enghien while Speeding Spur was wide and a long way back in the pack.
The third quarter was covered in 28.5 seconds.
In the home straight, Lemond fought tenaciously from Enghien who refused to quit with Harriet Of Mot making a spirited bid deeper off the track.
At the finish, Lemond scored by 1 length from a brave Enghien with a further 1.75 lengths back to Harriet Of Mot in third.
The final quarter was covered in 29.1 seconds.
The race time was 2:44.8 with a winning mile rate of 2:00.5 – well outside of the race record set last year by Habibti Ivy.
“He trotted great tonight and really deserved the victory after coming so close last season.” McKendry said.
Lemond joins Amaretto Sun, Sparkling Success and Tornado Valley as winners of Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters events for the 2017/18 season.
Next week, the Gr.1 $150,000 Canam Rowe Cup will complete the season.
Again, the 3200m stand-start feature will be staged at Alexandra Park, Auckland.
And the race to be crowned the ‘Trotting Master’ is still very much alive.
It's going right down to the wire!