JUSTIN Stanley never rode at Randwick during his days as a jockey but he will saddle up a runner there on April 2 after Something Borrowed took out the $100,000 heat of the Country Championships at Dubbo Turf Club on Sunday.
The seven-year-old was formerly trainer by John McKinnon but was transferred to Stanley when the former started treatment for a serious illness.
So it came as no surprise that Stanley was quick to thank his good mate after the biggest win of his short training career, which booked them a ticket for the $400,000 final on April 2.
"It's a big thrill to win this, not only for me but because 'Macca' has been so crook and I think this will have put a smile on his face," Stanley said after Aaron Bullock had negated a wide draw to win by half-a-length from the Peter Nestor-trained Not A Shadow ($31.00, Daniel Northey). Farewell Julia ($21.00, Michael Hackett) was third.
"He's such an honest old horse this bugger. He's my wife Fiona's stable favourite so to take him down to Randwick is going to be a massive thrill for everyone.
"I've only been training for a couple of years so to be there on such a big day....it hasn't sunk in yet but I'm sure it will after a few cans and a sleep tonight."
Darren Hyde's gelding The Flash One set a good speed in the heat which allowed the field to break up and Bullock was able to find a decent spot from the awkward draw.
As the field got into the home straight Something Borrowed loomed, and while Not A Shadow gave him a run in the final stages it was cheers all round as Something Borrowed recorded the third win of his career at his 19th start.
Bullock, who won the Wellington heat of the series a week prior on Pera Pera, was again in the winner's stall, with Stanley keen to keep him on board for the final.
"I think Hughie Bowman has got the ride on Pera Pera for the final but Aaron's riding well and I'd like to keep him if we can," Stanley said.
"The horse is going to have to improve a fair bit for the final but we have our ticket and we can dream."
For Nestor, Not A Shadow's performance to finish second was a reward for his patience with the injury-plagued four-year-old.
It also marks his second trip to the final in as many years after he trained Dane De Lago to win the Dubbo heat in 2015.
"The horse has done a terrific job, he only won his maiden two weeks ago," Nestor said.
"Mark and Lyn Betar have been great clients of mine, and Mark has been crook so it's a good result for him.
"That's the good thing about this series and Racing NSW deserve a lot of credit. It gives blokes like us a chance to run for some good money and now we're off to Randwick on a big day again."