The Stawell Gold Cup will return to Stawell after Barry the Baptist finished first in a thriller for trainer Paul Jones on Sunday afternoon.
Another large crowd packed the Stawell Racing Club for one of the biggest days on the Wimmera's racing calendar, with minds turned from footraces to horses for the day.
Racing on a good track, the day started slowly for the hometown hopefuls but picked up at race four.
Stawell's Dane Smith had winners in races four and five to give him some good form for his three runners in the Cup later in the afternoon.
Smith was unable to repeat his efforts with Mujadale in 2017 this year, with fellow Stawell trainer Jones snatching his first Stuart McGregor Stawell Gold Cup in a photo finish.
Barry the Baptist edged out pre-race favourite Zabalan in a nail biter. Stewards took several minutes to call the winner, and even more time afterwards reviewing the result to ensure the correct decision had been made.
He finished .1 of a length ahead.
Jones said he believes it was the first time he had a runner in the Cup.
"It is obviously a big thrill to win it. Stuart McGregor was a great supporter of the club and his family still is so it's a great privilege," he said.
"(Barry the Baptist) has won a lot of races by a nose but lost a few by a nose too so it was nice to get it go our way.
"He is a lovely horse and the best is still ahead of him I think."
Jones said he believes the five-year-old gelding can progress from the 2000m distance he won the Stawell Cup in to longer races and into the metropolitan market.
Smith said two winners and Jones taking out the Cup made for a good day overall.
"Stawell is a pretty good hunting ground for us and I was happy to see a local result in the Cup and for it to stay here," he said.
"I was over the moon with the day, great crowd and it is great to have some success on your home track."
Stawell Racing Club operations manager Mark Percival said the he hadn't seen a Stawell Cup race quite like Sunday's.
"It was spine tingling. We couldn't have written a better script for Paul Jones to win it," he said.
"He is one of the hardest working trainers we have got so he deserves every success he gets."
Mr Percival said crowd numbers were up on last year, with the event proving to be another "family friendly" one.
"It keeps getting bigger and bigger and sometimes I think I wouldn't like it to get too much bigger and lose any of its charm," he said.
"It is a pleasure to host a family raceday like the Stawell Cup and provide a chance for everyone to have a good time."
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