Moruya trainer Matt Stephens has executed the perfect preparation to win his first Queanbeyan Cup after Charlie Royale stormed to victory in a photo-finish on Sunday.
The six-year-old was beaten by a nose last-start but third up Charlie Royale turned the tables for the best win and biggest collect of his 48-race career.
Jockey Michael Travers timed his run to perfection as Charlie Royale dived at the line to pip Barb Joseph's D'Beak, while Richard Clarke's Mrs Willy Nilly ran third.
Stephens bought Charlie Royale for $16,800 four months ago and in five starts the the gelding has delivered two wins and two places.
"I bought him all out and nearly got my money back in his first run," Stephens said.
"I looked at his form and preps and how he was consistently getting backed up and I thought all I've got to do is bring this horse down and give him some time and space between his runs.
"The prep before I bought him he had five starts in 21 days and he was carrying 60 kilos, so I knew he could carry the weight because he was tapping on the door at 2000m and getting backed up five days later.
"I'm going how good is this horse, just reading the form I said to my wife I'm buying this horse, I've got to have him, he's just so tough, I'm sure there's nothing wrong with him."
Following the purchase Charlie Royale was sent to the paddock for six weeks and after winning first up Stephens then freshened him and couldn't believe the improvement.
"I prepped him for the cup and was just winging it and wondering is this horse going to be able to do this and every day he just kept improving," Stephens said.
"I said to my dad I reckon this horse can go close and I always knew he was a 2000m horse but he's a fish out of water to be able to do that, it was a just great.
"It was a big field too, normally the Queanbeyan isn't that big and there was plenty happening out there but he's on the money for me, let me tell you, there's been big turnover since he's come to my stable."
With two Bega Cups and a Cooma Cup also to his name, Stephens said he'll continue with his winning formula.
"I don't mind a second hand horse, I've had a lot of young stuff where I've ran into bad luck with injuries, so now I stick to the ones I can watch their races and think this horse can improve," Stephens said.
"I'm good with my stayers, I've won a few cups now and I go around just trying to win cup races now, I just like to fill the cabinet and that's why I bought him [Charlie Royale]."