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Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators

Inexperienced but talented four-year-old Alta Engen was a hot $1.60 favourite from the No. 1 barrier in the Allwood Stud Sires Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night when he gave his supporters a scare when he set the pace and just scrambled home to win by a head from the fast-finishing Alta Intrigue ($16).

On the surface, it appeared to be a rather disappointing effort by Alta Engen, but Capel trainer-reinsman Aiden de Campo blamed himself for the close finish, saying: “I almost made a blue by holding him back, worrying about Blue Blazer behind us, and not worrying about horses coming up on the outside.

“Alta Engen takes a bit to stoke up, the big fella, but he was good enough to win. If we had gone another 300m he would have kicked back and won easily. Luckily, he kicked back late when Alta Intrigue was coming.

“He is normally better if you cut him loose at the 400 or 500 metres, and really let him go. Holding him up and then letting him go, he gets a bit lost. He is still learning, has had only 23 starts and was up in grade tonight.”

De Campo finally let Alta Engen go about 150m from home and he held on grimly to beat Alta Intrigue, who has raced in fifth place, three back on the pegs, before finishing powerfully, out three wide. Alta Engen has earned $115,474 from 12 wins and six placings. Blue Blazer was blocked for a run until the final stages before he finished solidly into third place.