DANE Smith and Jack Hill combined for a special hometown win in the Stawell Gold Cup on Sunday.
Hill rode Mujadale home to win race eight of the meet by half a length sparking wild celebrations for the many connections, family and friends of the trainer and jockey waiting track side.
For both it was a first.
It was Smith’s fourth attempt as a trainer having previously finished third on two occasions.
“It means everything,” Smith said. “My team worked that hard at home – it’s a small family business and it’s a great reward for them.”
Hill echoed how special it was to take out the cup on his fifth attempt.
“To win the Stawell Cup means everything,” he said.
“It’s the greatest thing ever to win my hometown cup.”
It’s the greatest thing ever to win my hometown cup.
Immediately upon winning his thoughts were for his family.
“My grandfather loved racing but died late last year of cancer and he would have been over the moon for this,” he said.
“And to win it for a great mate with Dane and Heidi Smith, they are fantastic.”
As he approached the line Hill raised up triumphantly to salute the crowd in a clear show of just how much the win meant to him.
“That was a little bit for everyone,” he said.
“A couple of years ago I had a fall and I was in hospital so I missed this meeting.
“It was just overwhelming to finally get the hometown cup out of the way.”
Mujadale beat pre-race favourite Duke of Ellington over the line with Linda Meech, another Stawell connection, ridding it home.
Smith collected another third placing as Something to Share completed the trifecta.
Smith said going into the race he was quietly confident and that it was absolutely amazing his two horses placed.
“The horse is tough and honest,” Smith said. “Coming back from a two-mile race was hard but he freshened up beautifully and the results showed.”
The nine-year-old gelding had been freshened up for three weeks in the lead into the cup.
Smith was full of praise for how Hill rode the horse.
“We were happy with how we were going,” he said.
“He travelled beautifully throughout, Jack gave him a wonderful ride.
“It just panned out perfectly.”
Hill also entered the race with confidence in what his ride could do.
“He was rock hard fit, it was his home track,” he said.
“I just thought it was his race to win.
“He’s a tough on-pace horse and I thought he would be hard to run down; which he was.”
Hill thanked his fiance and mother after the win.
“I rode at Warracknabeal on Saturday and mum let me stay the night here,” she said.
“I would just like to thank everyone really.”
Following the cup presentation Hill embraced Smith and told him the win kept making him tear up every time he approached the trainer. When asked if there was anyone else he wanted to thank Smith just laughed.
“Everybody,” he said. “Just everyone because it’s really good and it’s really great.”