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Hugh Neff wins the 2016 Yukon Quest, Sass takes 2nd

Hugh Neff of Tok, Alaska, held onto his late-race lead to win the 2016 Yukon Quest with his team of nine dogs on Monday afternoon.

Neff took the lead after Pelly Crossing and maintained it into the finish

Hugh Neff hugs one of his dogs at the finish of the 2016 Yukon Quest. (Claudiane Samson/CBC)

For the second time in four years, Hugh Neff and his team of nine dogs won the 1,600-kilometre Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race, in front of hundreds of spectators, Monday afternoon.  

Hugh Neff in Braeburn, before his big win. (Julien Schroder/Yukon Quest)

Neff, of Tok, Alaska, held onto his late-race lead to cross the finish line first in Whitehorse, at 2:31 p.m. local time. For the win, he will take home at least $23,000 US. 

Neff won the Quest in 2012 and told the crowd he's happy to prove that wasn't a fluke.

"Personally I think I should have won this race five or six times by now, so I think I put that baby to bed," he said.

"I'm 48 years old now and I think maybe people think 48 is old for basketball or football or hockey, but for mushing it's just right." 

Hugh Neff's handlers had steak ready for his team of nine dogs upon their arrival at the finish line. (Dave Croft/CBC)

Defending champion Brent Sass of Eureka, Alaska, arrived second, at 3:52 p.m. PT.  Sass dominated the first half of the race from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Dawson City, but arrived in Pelly Crossing in fourth place. For arriving first into Dawson and finishing the race, Sass will take home four ounces of gold. 

Allen Moore of Two Rivers, Alaska, who won the Quest in 2013 and 2014, is poised to take third place. He is trailed by Matt Hall, also of Two Rivers. 

Yukon's Ed Hopkins of 10 Mile, Yukon remains in fifth place, well back of the remaining leaders. 

The Yukon Quest started in Fairbanks, Alaska, on Feb. 6 with 23 mushers. Three mushers have scratched or were withdrawn.

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