Taunting too fast in the Apache Cat Classic

Teo Nugent made the most of his 53kg allotment and led a select field of sharp sprinters a merry dance in the $175,000 Apache Cat Classic (1000m) aboard Taunting for Michael Hickmott.

Taunting ($6) showed excellent gate speed to hold out noted speedster Midwest ($4 EF) for the lead and travelled better around the turn as Midwest tried to apply the pressure, Taunting kicking clear for a two-length win with Midwest just holding second ahead of Generation ($4.20).

Trained in South Australia, Taunting is no stranger to Victorian racing, this his eighth start across the border but he’d failed to win a race outside South Australia until today, something Michael Hickmott was happy to change.

“It’s fantastic. He got his own way in front. I thought Midwest was going to cross us, but Teo took the race by the horns which was fantastic. It’s great to have Teo on today. I got him across to South Australia for his first ever city winner on a horse called Cannot Be Serious and he’s now winning an Apache Cat for us,” Hickmott said.

“I said to Teo just to let him roll, and he’s done that. I’m really thrilled to have Teo on in Jess’s absence. He does a lot for my brother and he’s a great lad and I’m bloody thrilled.”

Nugent often rides for Robert Hickmott, brother of Michael, making the combination extra special for the young jockey who only returned to riding in September following a serious neck injury sustained from a fall in March.

“It’s unbelievable. My first ever city winner was for Michael probably four years ago and we’ve been great mates ever since. Thank you to Darren Thomas and Mark Pilkington and Seymour Bloodstock team. They’ve supported me a lot through my career and it’s great to get another winner in their colours,” Nugent said.

Nugent has now ridden nine winners since returning from injury and is just happy to be back riding again following the life-threatening injury.

“It’s great to be back. I had seven months out on the sidelines and the racing channel was always on. It’s a funny game. You work day in, day out, and you can be riding 14 days straight some weeks and you’re busting for a day off, but when you are on the sidelines and all you want to do is get back there.”

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