PULLING IT OFF: Phil Pengelly won the Iron Jack Gladstone Cup with locally trained horse Darts Away.
PULLING IT OFF: Phil Pengelly won the Iron Jack Gladstone Cup with locally trained horse Darts Away. Matt Taylor GLA170819PHIL

Gladstone Cup win was a process months in the making

HORSE RACING: The journey for 2019 Iron Jack Gladstone Cup winner Darts Away began in March after his owners and trainer Phil Pengelly made the decision to give the gelding a spell.

It was a calculated move with only one goal in mind - winning the Gladstone Cup - and it paid off to deliver Pengelly only his second Cup win since taking out the 1996 event with Duffs Remorse.

Seven-year-old Darts Away won the 1608m race by a head over six-year-old gelding Potemkin in the hotly contested August10 race that featured a field of runners with combined career prize money winnings of over $1million.

It was the first time Darts Away had won a race more than 1400m in length.

"Four months ago we gave him a spell so he could win the Gladstone Cup," Pengelly said.

"That was the aim, that was the grand final and we pulled it off.

"The owners were very successful with the bookmakers, so it was a good day had by all."

Darts Away began his spell after finishing fourth out of five horses at the Rockhampton meet on March 7.

His comeback came at Gladstone on June 1 then he finished sixth out of a field of seven over the 1000m.

Pengelly knew he had the horse to win this year's Cup, but that it would still be a challenge against a strong field.

"You can go years without having a horse that can compete and that's why it's so hard to win it.

"You need a suitable horse that can go the mile over the sand.

"It was a process the horse went through to have him peaking on the day and we did that to the letter."

A second place in Mackay on July 30 solidified Pengelly's belief that his horse could get the job done on its home track.

He also credited jockey Chris McIver, who had Darts Away well positioned throughout the entire Gladstone Cup.

Darts Away's next race will be in Rockhampton.