HE was pipped on the line in last year's edition, but Rusty Crackers ensured there wouldn't be a second edition of heartbreak by cruising to a dominant win in the Leeton Pacers Cup (2582m) on Friday night.
The seven-year-old, handled by trainer-driver siblings Brooke McPherson and James McPherson, justified his short $1.35 odds after beating Trunkey Tash ($8.50) to secure the $7830 first place cheque.
James McPherson initially took Rusty Crackers back towards the tail of the field from barrier eight, before unleashing a mid-race move to sit outside leader Lets Strike The Gold with a lap remaining.
He proved far too classy in the closing stages, adding to the Wagga and Temora Cup victories he claimed in 2020.
"We thought he would probably win the race and be very hard to beat, but (the only concern was) he was first up and didn't have a trial after a spell of about 80 days. That was a bit of an unknown, but we always knew he would be hard to beat," James McPherson said.
"Around a track like Leeton, its pretty hard to make ground, especially when you run in the fast class races where they do pretty slick splits, so I wanted to be able to get up there and dictate the race and make it into the best staying test I could.
"He decided to fire up mid race. The sectionals in the second quarter (28.6) were pretty quick and he got on the bit a little bit, which got me worried.
"But when I had a look around on the back straight and felt how good he was travelling beneath me and everything else was under pressure, I knew we were home. He switched off a bit but that's just him, I was pretty confident from the bell.
It was McPherson's first Leeton Pacers Cup win and was a relief for connections after Rusty Crackers was overtaken on the line by the then Ian Livermore-trained Carla Clare in last year's edition.
He will now prepare for the Goulburn Cup in a fortnight's time.
"That will be a big test for him because it's always so strong being so close to Sydney, with good prizemoney on offer," McPherson said.
"He's only going to improve on that run and his last two starts at Menangle before his let up. He was racing some top quality fields there."
The Richard Williams-trained Tamworth visitor Oh I Am The One ($41) produced a big upset in the Ladies Invitational Pace (1758m), while driver Blake Jones had a big night with three wins.
The Coleambally reinsman guided home Ellen Bartley's Nowhere Creek ($2.25 fav) in the Milbrae Quarries Final, Darrell Hillier's Monterei Heaven ($1.45 fav) in the Milbrae Quarries Consolation and Bartley's Jukebox Jet ($2.25 fav) in the Coprice Feeds Pace.
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