It wasn’t a win but Sons Of Bourke’s run still left Dubbo trainer Clint Lundholm with tears in his eyes on Sunday afternoon.
Sons Of Bourke finished second behind Westlink in the Country Championships Western Racing Association Qualifier (1400m), but that was still enough to ensure a spot in the $500,000 final at Royal Randwick on April 6.
The top two in each of the eight heats throughout the state advance to the final but that has been something which had evaded Lundholm before Sunday.
He had three horses which all missed out in the inaugural event in 2015, while 2016 saw leading hope Snippety Sip miss the event through injury.
He had no horses in the running in 2017 and was then left bitterly disappointed last year when four of his horses, including $2.60 favourite Joeys Destiny, failed to make the top two.
“I’ve got tears in my eyes I’m that excited,” Lundholm said.
“The team put in that big an effort and the horse went great.”
Lundholm’s Sprezzatura ($41) also ran home well for third on Sunday in a major return to form.
“This is the most relaxed I’ve ever been leading into one (heat),” the trainer said.
“There were a lot of question marks over my horses but I knew they were fit, they were well, and I knew I was going to be a great chance. They went super.”
Lundholm, a former jockey, gave Andrew Banks “10 out of 10” for his ride, Sons Of Bourke charging down the outside in the straight to finish three-and-a-quarter lengths off the dominant Westlink ($2.90 favourite).
“We’re going to Sydney so we’re happy,” Lundholm said.
“It’s a relief. We knew the horses were good enough and they’ve run super.”
The Dubbo trainer’s other hope, Ben Shoof ($41), finished in sixth spot.