The margin was a nose but the finish was deceptive with Rebel King defeating Cool Trade in a thrilling conclusion to the H.G.Bolton Sprint (1200m) at Ascot on Saturday.
In a fitting finale to the final feature race of the season, Rebel King, urged on by champion jockey, William Pike, dug deep to reel in Cool Trade who appeared to have the race sown up when she kicked clear with 200m remaining.
Rebel King’s trainer, Darren McAuliffe, lauded Pike’s effort in lifting his talented three-year-old across the line to end what had been a frustrating campaign for the son of Universal Ruler, five placings from his previous six starts.
He summed up Pike’s efforts succinctly: “What can you say about William Pike?” said McAuliffe.
“There is no one better than Willie in a tight finish.”
While proud of Rebel King’s best win from 14 starts, McAuliffe humbly paid credit to Cool Trade’s gallant performance.
“I had thought the mare had beaten us and full credit to her because gees she has run a terrific race,” said McAuliffe.
“We know she is very tough at her best and she is obviously back near there.
“I thought she was going to be the state’ best sprinter 18 months ago and she may very well be.”
Rebel King set Belmont Park alight this time last year with four brilliant wins in a line before failing to take the next step up when unplaced in the Belgravia Stakes (1200m).
McAuliffe said despite one win in 2015 he never lost faith in Rebel King’s ability.
“His efforts have been excellent and one thing I like about horses is consistency,” said McAuliffe.
“Let’s be fair there are probably only two other three-year-olds in the state, Delicacy and Disposition, that have won more money.
“He is up against older horses and he found it a little bit harder taking the next step.
“But full credit to him and it’s the first stakes winner for his sire, Universal Ruler.
“We finish the season off with a bang.”
McAuliffe said Rebel King, who boosted prize money to $325, 325, was in line to tackle Kalgoorlie’s feature sprint in September.
“I tentatively did have the Hannans Handicap pencilled in but we will wait and see how the dust settles,” said McAuliffe.
Wink And A Nod started a warm favourite with punters and appeared to have been a little unlucky in finding clear galloping room in the straight.
She was coming hard but fell a length short of Rebel King and Cool Trade.
Sujet finish fourth, making ground from near last after being the last horse to leave the gates.