Clint Lundholm went to Royal Randwick full of nerves, knowing he had a genuine chance of winning Saturday’s $60,000 Highway Handicap with Larlabrook.
And those nerves remained for some time after a photo finish was needed to decide if his gelding had got the job done or not.
With the returning Greg Ryan in the saddle, the Dubbo-trained Larlabrook tired over the latter stages of the 1000m journey after getting in front early.
But despite She Knows charging home late, Lundholm’s hope hung on to win by a nose.
Ryan, back in the saddle for the first time since an eye operation, wasn’t even sure which way the decision was going to go in his first ride since August 21.
The champion jockey had got out well from barrier 10 before crossing and taking the lead early.
"I thought I got beat on the line, I thought they nutted me. It was a good effort from the horse," Ryan said post-race.
Ryan, who had growth removed from his left eye last month to remedy blurred vision, doubted the four-year-old would have won first-up had Lundholm not trialled him at Dubbo on August 28.
"It hardened him right up," he said.
Lundholm also feared Larlabrook had been denied his third win in four starts when racing for the first time since February.
"I thought on the line the outside got us. I was shaking like a leaf," he said, before speaking about his own return.
“It was great. I haven’t had that long off so not that unfit but I can see better and this was a lovely surprise.”
The win continued the fine start to four-year-old Larlabrook’s career with three wins and a second now recorded from four starts.
“He’s a lovely, kind horse so I’m glad to see him win,” Ryan added.
Saturday proved a good day out for Lundholm as while he was enjoying the glamour of Royal Randwick, another from his stable was getting the job done on the outback track of Enngonia.
Tuncoona scored the first win of his career in start number four, justifying his $1.60 favouritism by scoring a dominant 10-and-a-half length victory at Enngonia.
Parkes-based Michael Hackett was in the saddle.