Portland Jimmy was too good in Sunday's Ararat Cup, drawing the curtains on a busy week for the Wimmera's racing fraternity.
The win continued an impressive season for the Patrick Payne-trained gelding, who won the Avoca Cup two starts ago and finished second in the St Arnaud Cup in its last start.
The seven-year-old's comfortable win also delivered apprentice jockey Laura Lafferty the biggest victory of her career so far.
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Paul Preusker-trained Sentimentalist was the best-placed local horse, finishing fifth, 3.5L off the winner.
Despite a strong host of runners in action at Ararat, considerable attention remained on Preusker's stable star, Surprise Baby, after a less-than-ideal Melbourne Cup.
Surprise Baby started the Melbourne Cup a well-backed second favourite, but never found his way out from the back of the field, before finishing 13th.
Preusker told racing.com from Ararat that the six-year-old's days of being lightly raced could be over, with the trainer nominating Surprise Baby for Saturday's Zipping Classic.
''He was a hard one last prep... I think he had his first start Horsham Cup day and I think he raced for the whole 12 months," he said
''An autumn prep wasn't really there for him where as this time it's a lot different, so certainly you'll see him feature in the autumn quite strongly hopefully.''
While one champion is preparing for a busy schedule, another Wimmera-linked world-beater is winding down for a well-deserved rest.
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Nature Strip's second-place finish at Saturday's Darley Sprint Classic was the horse's final race of the year.
The Chris Waller-trained sprinter had been nominated for the Hong Kong Sprint on December 13, before plans changed.
The second-place run was Nature Strip's best finish from four starts this spring.
"He ran terrific on Saturday and certainly wasn't far off his best," Waller said.
"I think things just didn't work out at the start of the preparation.
"Things went pear-shaped and I am looking to starting off fresh with him in the autumn. If we can get him back to 100 per cent he will be winning again."
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