It did not matter how much rain poured on Easter Sunday, nothing was going to dampen an unforgettable DiGiorgio Family Wines Penola Cup.
The consistent rain forced patrons to run for cover and consigned the Penola Racecourse track to register a heavy 8 reading, while the gloomy skies made the event almost feel like a night race.
Despite the punters getting drenched and the field being reduced to six runners, there was still plenty of excitement for the latest and possibly wettest Penola Cup and it certainly delivered.
Prerace favourite Fulton Street was fast out of the gate and quickly established a lead.
But as the horses raced amongst the grapevines Prospectus enjoyed a run down the inside and threatened to take the lead before slipping into second.
After the lighting start, Fulton Street started to back it off slightly and the pack bunched up.
With 750m to go the caller screamed “you can throw a handkerchief over them” and it was anyone’s guess as to who could deliver down the heavy main straight.
Fulton Street managed to protect its lead after the final left-handed bend, but as the pack sprinted towards the crowd, the favourite found itself under increasing pressure.
Dexter You Devil was taking a peek down the inside, while Thrill Kill mounted the biggest threat and went on the charge around the outside.
It became a thrilling two-horse race with the leaders running side by side to the finish line.
After a few heart-stopping seconds, Fulton Street found enough energy in the tank to hold and complete an incredible all-the-way win.
The seven-year-old Gelding did it by just a nose with only 0.020 seconds splitting the top two on the stopwatch.
Many local owners travelled to Penola to watch Thrill Kill in action and left in agony after seeing the Peter Hardacre trained horse fall just short in the sprint to the line.
Dexter You Devil had to settle for third followed by Prospectus, while $61 outsider Naseeb managed to edge out Cuban Toonite.
Sophie Logan was the jockey riding Fulton Street and said she believed her horse had what it took to deliver when it mattered after leading all 1700m.
“He is always the horse you want to be on in a tight finish because he tries for you,” she said.
“I was yelling at him and he was trying so hard and stuck his head out at the right time
“This win means a lot, so I could not be happier.
“I cannot thank David Jolley Racing and all the owners enough for sticking by me.”
Logan said they were tricky conditions to ride in and had to adjust her starting technique to take the lead.
“There was a query with how the track was playing because he prefers the track much better than what it was today,” she said.
“There was a lot of wear on the inside of the track, so I went on the outside to find a better going which worked well.
“I knew he would try for me and he tried his absolute heart out.”
Fulton Street owner Quentin Munro was overjoyed having the cup in his hands after an exciting race.
“We are absolutely stoked,” he said
“We were pretty confident if it was going to be a dry track, but when the rain came we got a little bit suspect.
“We were thrilled just to be on track to start with and it was such a great win by the horse.
“We were all running up the track cheering him on because it was such a close finish.
“He is generally a one pacer and likes the rails, but can dig deep, so to see him out wide was totally unusual.
“He was almost out of his depth, but he is such a tough horse and that’s what we love about him.
“It is up there with one of his most special wins.”
However, the win almost never happened with Munro revealing it was a line-ball decision to even race with the track being so wet.
“To be honest we were nearly going to scratch him,” he said.
“He does not like the wet track and Tracey the stable manager said ‘no we are running him’ and look what happened.
“So that just makes it even more special.”
The big day started with a surprise when the $11 Mount Gambier trained horse Bunumburt beat the shorter-priced horses to win the opener comfortably for Bob and Kane Post.
The Midfield Group Maiden Plate went as expected with favourite Recreant cruising home ahead of Teemenzed which stunned the punters to take second after receiving a starting price of $61.
Mount Gambier trainer Michael O’Leary scored a win thanks to the dominant Light’s Vision, which won by more than three lengths.
Prince Jofra lived up to its favourties tag in the fourth race, but only just edging out Maatsuyker, while Loose Lip Lloyd emerged victorious after a thrilling five-horse battle for the Royal Oak Hotel Penola Benchmark 54 Handicap.
Sacred Armour started the sixth race at short odds and lived up to punters’ expectations before Ammo Amor took out the next event.
Amid dark skies favourite Riator controlled the final race to complete a memorable day at the Penola races for many reasons.