IT may not have been the race that stopped a nation but for Dubbo trainer Russell Smith, yesterday's Mailbox Shopper Maiden Plate (1205m) was just as good.

The only horse in Smith's stable, Taupo, scored a strong win in the opening race of Dubbo's Melbourne Cup day meeting, franking the form of Kosciuszko Moon which had won at the same track on Derby Day.

At his most recent start the five-year-old Tobougg (IRE) x Citicheer gelding had finished a close second to Kosciuszko’s Moon at Forbes and carried that form to yesterday’s race.

Ridden by apprentice Jake Pracey-Holmes, Taupo ($2.20 fav) settled back in the field before storming down the centre of the track to beat Effjaycanny ($4.40, Daniel Pitomac) by one-and-a-half lengths with Alfie Bee ($15.00, Ken Dunbar) flashing home for third, a further four lengths back.

After the race Smith, a well-known local farrier, joked he bought Taupo for ‘a hat’ after a previous horse had gone amiss.

“I didn’t pay much for him, training them is just a hobby for me,” Smith said.

“I’m semi-retired and only have the one in work for something to do so to get a win out of him was good.

“Jake has been doing a bit of work with him and riding him in work for me and he did a good job today. I don’t know what I’ll do with him now, I’ll have to look at the program and see if there’s anything suitable.

“He’s no star but he did a good job today.”

The win was the first leg of a winning double for Pracey-Holmes, who also partnered Zedi Warrior in the Daily Liberal Cup (1205m).

“I let them go early and he settled nice under me,” Pracey-Holmes said of Taupo.

“When I hooked him out at the top of the straight he responded well and I never really had to hit him with the stick.

“It’s good to get a win for Russell. He’s a good bloke and he has done a good job with the horse and I’d say he might be able to get another win out of the horse somewhere.”

Meanwhile, jockey Jeff Kehoe celebrated his birthday with a win on $9.00 chance Mrs Asia in the SDA Employees Maiden Plate (1205m).

Kehoe was at his vigorous best as he outsprinted his rivals to beat Seattle Chic ($3.00, Ken Dunbar) by three-quarters-of-a-length with Coonawaugh ($17.00, Daniel Pitomac) two lengths away in third place.

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