Patrick Payne prepared his fourth Grand Annual Steeplechase winner in seven years as dual Great Eastern winner Zed Em lumped 70kg to victory over 5500 metres and 34 fences at Warrnambool on Thursday.
Runner-up in last year's Grand Annual when beaten a short-half head by Gold Medals, Zed Em turned the tables with an excellent jumping display and seemingly endless reserves of stamina.
"He's unreal, I'm just so proud of the horse," jockey Steven Pateman said after winning his third Grand Annual.
"I really wanted him (Zed Em) to win one (Grand Annual) because of last year and I know how good he is. I'm over the moon."
Pateman positioned Zed Em ($2.70 favourite) in second place behind Newbury before moving into the lead at the Tozer Road double with 1000m remaining.
Stablemate Slowpoke Rodriguez and Gold Medals challenged Zed Em but the son of Zed rallied under Pateman with his clean jumping securing victory.
Zed Em defeated Gold Medals ($6) by three lengths, with Spying On You ($16) a further 2.75 lengths away in third.
Tuesday's Brierly Steeplechase winner Bit Of A Lad ($4.60) never threatened after settling in midfield, finishing fourth, while Slowpoke Rodriguez ($3.90) negotiated the final two fences poorly and faded into fifth.
"He is just so sweet at a fence, he is a champion jumper," Payne declared.
"He just needs a lot of jumps. If he gets to a track like Sandown (where there's fewer jumps) he just can't use his jumping ability.
"This track and Oakbank (home of the Great Eastern Steeplechase) just suit him down to the ground."
Gold Medals' trainer Symon Wilde said he was 'proud of his horse' post-race.
"We've had some great battles over the journey and we might hopefully front up again next year," Wilde said." -racing.com