Trainer Noel Pateman identified El Tegra as a Carnarvon Cup prospect when he outlaid a modest sum for the former New South Wales galloper in 2011.
Carnarvon’s feature race is keenly sought after by Pateman and despite winning a host of major country races it’s one that has eluded his grasp.
He gave El Tegra a tilt at the 2012 Carnarvon Cup but was left despondent when the gelding finished 12th of 14 and 32 lengths from Ten Degrees.
But after El Tegra’s come-from-behind win in Friday’s Gallipoli Cup (1700m), Pateman believes he is on the cusp of realising his ambition.
The eight-year-old, in an ominous warning to rivals, unleashed a powerful run for jockey Mandy Richmond and in a fighting finish, defeated Eyes Don’t Lie by a nose.
It was a timely win from the son of More Than Ready who atoned after performing below expectations at his previous two starts.
“It’s my dream to win a Carnarvon Cup and I thought this horse could do it for me but he has messed around with my head,” said Pateman.
“It’s taken a while but I think I finally have him sorted out and he is starting to deliver on what I think he is capable of.”
Despite El Tegra failing at his only attempt at 2000m and not winning beyond 1700m, Pateman is confident he can run out a strong journey.
“If the race is run with tempo and he can relax at the back and switch off he will run out the trip,” said Pateman.
“He will have another hit out in the Peter Evans Memorial (1700m) at the end of the month as his final tune up.”
Stable mate Dimitrius capped off a top day for the Pateman-Richmond combination when he completed back-to-back victories in the Verdun Handicap (1700m).
The son of Helenus was challenged by runner-up Fleming Son but dug deep to kick away and record a comfortable front running victory by 1 ¼ lengths.
“It was a gutsy win after being headed,” said Pateman.
“I think he has a lot of improvement left in him this campaign.
“He is getting stronger with each race and loves the track.”