A DREAM checklist for your first Group 1-winning drive would probably include the following: Win on your home track, do it on a horse you've shared great battles with and give yourself a big enough margin to salute the crowd.
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On Friday night Doug Hewitt put that checklist together for a moment that will stay with him for the rest of his life.
Hewitt drove Ripp ($2.70 favourite) to a crushing 16 metre victory in the $100,000 Group 1 Gold Chalice (1,730 metres) at Bathurst Paceway, leaving Commander Buzz ($9, Glenn Hunter) and Iambecauseofyou ($3.30, Cameron Hart) to fight it out for the minor placings off in the distance.
The cheer for the Bernie Hewitt-trained runner rivalled some of the greatest noise ever made at the track and it's a sound that was music to Doug Hewitt's ears.
"I'm still trying to work out what just happened. I've never driven a horse before like that, one that's just got so much raw ability. It's untapped. He's only five starts in. He's got a massive future ahead of him, this horse," he said.
"I had a good look around and had to make sure that it was really happening and that it wasn't a dream. When I heard the cheer of the crowd and everyone around me it really put me in the moment.
"I think we'll be drinking to this one for the next couple of days."
Hewitt took up control of the race at the bell and was able to take a relatively comfortable second quarter of 30.8.
Giving the favourite a breather like that would prove to be a decision the rest of the field would regret.
With 400m to run Ripp gained a small break over the race's other well-backed runner, Iambecauseofyou, while the rest of the field trailed a further 10m behind.
The margin would only grow and grow down the home stretch, and with each additional metre Ripp gained over his rivals the louder the cheers from the crowd became.
Hewitt could hardly believe how well the son of Somebeachsomewhere felt with half a lap remaining.
"He was just under full wraps and was absolutely jogging. I looked up at the clock and saw 26.9 and I knew it was going to take a special horse to run him down with the way he was feeling," Hewitt said.
"You don't win Group races like that unless you're a special animal. I couldn't be happier.
"I was happy to take a sit in the running line if that came. Once everything grabbed hold I was more than happy to try my luck in front when it was given to me," he said.
"It just panned out perfectly. I got a cheap second sectional and after that he felt like a million dollars.
Ripp came into the Gold Crown Carnival off an injury but looked excellent in his lead up to his heat, which he narrowly won in gutsy fashion.
But with a better draw out of gate four in the final he looked like an even more impressive specimen.
"I really want to thank Wayne and Julie [Loader]. They've got a lot of respect for our family to entrust us with their horses, and Bern did such a good job to get that horse back from the severe injury that he had.
"It's full credit to the whole team, to my brother Jase and my fiancé, Case."
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