Lightly raced five-year-old King of the Ark surprised punters when he scored a first-up city win at Sandown on Wednesday.

Niggling problems have limited the career of the son of O’lonhro but he was on top his game when he ground out a last stride win in the Ladbrokes Hcp (1000m).

“He’s had an interrupted career with injury problems but he has got plenty of ability,” said trainer Vincent Malady.

“He’s a tough horse and it was great to see him win a city race for his owner Howard Simpson who has been very patient with him.’

Apprentice Zac Spain rode a calculated race on the gelding, biding his time while staying close to the pace.

As the field fanned into the straight, King of the Ark ($14) was in the perfect position two off the rail and took a narrow lead at the 400m metres but was soon headed by horses either side of him.

Divertente ($7) drew a nearly a length clear at 200 metres but “the King” responded brilliantly the last 100 metres to get up on the line by a head, with Casque ($6) finishing a half-length away third.

The winning margin was the smallest of King of the Ark’s three wins in just eight starts but earned him his biggest prizemoney cheque of $19,250.

Bred by Howard Simpson, the big bay created a huge impression when he won his debut by 3-1/4 lengths at Geelong in August 2016, and at his third start he won by 2-1/4 lengths at Bendigo in October that year.

Last campaign he placed twice in four runs, and he was having his first start since a 1.6 length fourth at Geelong on June 23.

“It was a good test for him at Sandown but we knew he was going well after he won a recent trial at Geelong,” Vincent said.

Wednesday 10th January 2018

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