Trainer Jenny Graham has never come to Sydney with two favourites before and for a nervous few moments it looked as if she would have a long trip home to Port Macquarie.
After Awesome Pluck ran third in Saturday’s opening event at $2.10, Victorem lined up at the same price in the Highway Handicap (1000m).
His owners knocked back an offer believed to be around $1 million for the three-year-old and he found plenty of trouble to make it look like a poor business decision.
But Victorem rallied under Ben Looker to launch a late surge and beat All Stand ($10) by a short head with Under The Thumb ($21) another nose third.
“I was very nervous coming here and even more nervous during the race,” Graham said.
“The owners knocked back a lot of money for him because they want to have fun and race him.
“Awesome Pluck didn’t have a lot of luck from the outside barrier and then Victorem got into trouble.
“They will both go home now and we will look at the Country Championship but how they get there, we haven’t decided.”
Looker said the obstacles Victorem had to overcome showed just how much ability he had.
“He jumped good and then after 100 metres and just as we were straightening up on the course proper he decided to chuck a little crow hop to make sure I was concentrating,” Looker said.
“He’s done a really good job to pick himself up from there and I was lucky enough there was a little bit of scrimmage that I was able to avoid and sneak straight through there.
“He’s got plenty of ability and he’s probably a five or six-length better horse than what he was today.
“To his credit his ability shone through.
“I’m really lucky Jenny and the owners stuck with me.
“I’ve had a lot to do with him and I do know him inside out. The more racing he has the better he will get.”
Victorem will be given an extra chance to show how good he is with stewards ordering him back to the barrier trials to make sure he doesn’t crow hop at the start.