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Life O’Brien regroups for belated victory

Durable gelding Life O’Brien has rallied to score his first win for 18 months, pegging back Estikhraaj to claim the Schweppes Handicap at Canterbury.

Hugh Bowman looked to have Estikhraaj ($1.70 fav) on track to justify his billing when they overtook Life O’Brien with 200 metres left to travel in Wednesday’s 1900m-race.

But the five-year-old regrouped to notch a long-awaited win, the first since Anthony and Edward Cummings took over his training from Tony McEvoy in February.

“I knew he’d dig in and fight. Over the last hundred (metres) he always digs in deep. He deserves a win,” stable representative Corey Jones said.

“Kerrin (McEvoy) had his work cut out for him. He was off the bit the whole way but we knew he’d fight.”

Life O’Brien ($3.90) posted the fourth win of his 19-start career by a short neck over Estikhraaj who was a length clear of third-placed Celestial Choice ($15).

McEvoy was also rapt Life O’Brien tasted success over 1900m at a stage of the season which looks tailor-made for him.

“I wanted to lead but he didn’t,” he said.

“He took a bit of cajoling but once I had him up and going from the 600 on he put his best foot forward. When Hughie challenged me, he found a bit more.

“He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed but he got the job done.”

“He’s always shown a little bit over a staying trip and it’s the right time of year for him. There’s more options for him over that sort of trip in the coming weeks.”

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