In a stunning performance by horse and jockey, Nic's Vendetta has cemented his place in the Country Championships Final at Randwick on April 1, after finishing second in the Scone qualifier on Sunday.
Starting at healthy odds of $12, jockey Aaron Bullock positioned the son of Nicconi in third for a majority of the race, before taking him to the lead in the home straight. On an extremely rain-affected track, which was downgraded to a heavy8 the race prior, Bullock used the best part of the track and looked a winner close to home, however was pipped on the line by the unbeaten Caerless Choice. In an extraordinary finish, a mere 2 lengths separated 8 horses, with Nic qualifying by half a nose.
As expected, trainer Todd Howlett was elated with the run, when he caught up with Julianne Horsman from Racing NSW.
"It was a great run, he's such an honest horse."
"I'm thrilled. I've got a big group of owners here and they're already planning their trip to Randwick, it's great."
Jockey Aaron Bullock was equally-delighted with the performance and is looking forward to riding him in the $400,000 final.
"He's such an honest and tough horse."
"To do it at both ends is really tough and I knew he would go well and he handled the conditions great."
"I think he's a very underrated horse and his runs in Sydney have always been good against the same class of horses, so it will be a good final."
Bullock is no stranger to success in the Country Championships, being the first ever jockey to win two heats in 2016. He shares a special bond with Howlett, after completing his apprenticeship under him and riding his first winner at 17 years of age.
"Todd is a great person and it would be really special to win a final like that for him."
"These Championships are great for country trainers like Todd, to compete in the City."