"It's just incredible."
Those were the words of an almost speechless Craig Garland, after star racehorse Nature Strip won The Everest on Saturday; the world's richest race on turf.
Nature Strip is part-owned by Horsham residents Garland, Geoffrey Dumesny, Craig Bennett, Frank Giampaolo, and the late David McCluskey.
The syndicate have owned their fair share of horses over the years, but on Saturday they realised a dream even the most optimistic of the group would never have imagined.
After two attempts at The Everest, Nature Strip started the Randwick race as favourite.
The six-time Group One winner finished fourth in 2019 and seventh in 2020.
This year it had an ideal lead up, with six wins from nine starts.
If it was going to scale The Everest, this was its time.
In front of 10,000 spectators jockey James McDonald steered the Chris Waller-trained sprinter home, ahead of Masked Crusader and rival Eduardo.
Unfortunately COVID-19 meant Garland and the other owners weren't able to be at Royal Randwick.
They were however able to gather at the Exchange Hotel, where amongst a group of 20 friends and family, they celebrated an unfathomable achievement.
"For all of us to be here it's just something you could never dream of in your whole life," Garland said.
"We couldn't get up there but at the end of the day the horse has done what we wanted it to do and it's just an amazing effort. It's just bloody fantastic. It's just a dream."
Now with The Everest under its belt, there isn't a lot left for Nature Strip to achieve in racing.
Its crowning moment may have occurred in Australia's biggest city, but it's remarkable that over 1000km away there were a group of everyday men who played their part.
If you are seeing this message you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Wimmera Mail-Times, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thank you very much for your support and allowing us to continue telling your stories. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great city.