When Stoneyrise flashed home late to snatch victory in the Western Region Country Championships qualifier, not even the rivals he beat could hold it against him.
The five-year-old gelding travelled more than 500km from Hungerford north west of Bourke on the Queensland border to compete at Dubbo and he certainly made the trip worthwhile.
“I’m on top of the world,” trainer James Hatch said. “I knew he had ability but this was a huge step up and I can’t believe I am here as the winning trainer. This is my first time at Dubbo as a trainer.
“My wife and kids are here and some of my friends. It’s going to be hard to top this day.”
From a wide barrier jockey Jake Pracey-Holmes settled Stoneyrise at the rear of the field and just before they turned for home he had all but one runner ahead of him. But a determined Pracey-Holmes fought his way into the clear and came over the top of all of them to claim victory by a length.
“He is a super horse,” Pracey-Holmes said. "He did a lot of things wrong in the race but he wanted to win and kept trying.”
Below: Jake Pracey-Holmes and Stoneyrise sail past the opposition in Sunday's Country Championships Qualifier at Dubbo
Hatch was full of praise for his jockey and declared he would keep the ride in the $400,000 Country Championships final at Royal Randwick on Saturday, 1 April. Odds-on favourite, Peter Nestor-trained La La Loopsy finished second and also qualified for the final at Randwick.
Stoneyrise is by Zariz from Moss Lover and was bought at the Dubbo Sales for just $7500. He now boasts a record of six wins and five places from 14 starts and earnings in excess of $113,000.
The next Country Championships heat will be held at Taree next Sunday.