A cattle farmer and hobby trainer from a town of 60 people near the Queensland border.
A jockey who had feared his career was over just months earlier.
And a horse small in stature, racing over a distance he'd never contested before.
You couldn't write a script like that.
But the three came together to create one of the decade's most incredible stories.
Stoneyrise and the outback fairy tale, next in our Moments That Mattered series
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
James Hatch had never raced at Dubbo Turf Club before February 19, 2017.
Hatch, from the small town of Hungerford north-west of Bourke, had only ever contested one meeting TAB prior to saddling up Stoneyrise for a crack at the $150,000 Western Racing Association Country Championships Qualifier (1400m) that day.
Stoneyrise had never raced over that distance before, having only ensured himself a spot in the qualifier by winning over 1100m at Coonamble just a few weeks prior.
But none of it mattered.
Stoneyrise, under a brilliant ride from Jake Pracey-Homes, got the job done at Dubbo to go from unknown to cult hero in the blink of an eye.
The horse from the back of Bourke, trained by a cattle farmer who took three days to get to the Dubbo track, flew home to take victory and ensure passage through to the riches of the Country Championships Final at Royal Randwick.
"This is over the top. I could never imagine this happening," Hatch said post-race.
"Out there and the distance we have to travel and the little horse first up over 1400m. It's unbelievable."
Pracey-Holmes, an apprentice at the time, was also over the moon.
The nature of the jockey's performance may have been lost to some at the time given the celebrations which had started as soon as the gelding had passed the post.
Stoneyrise was the worst of all 14 horses in the race to start.
He settled down second last and remained there as the field turned into the bend for home, as the $2.10 favourite La La Loopsy sat towards the front of the field in prime position.
There was a crowd of horses in front of Stoneyrise in the straight but Pracey-Holmes took his chance, swung to the extreme outside, and urged Hatch's hopeful on.
In a pink and blue flash Stoneyrise had overhauled La La Loopsy and won.
"He probably wanted to be a bit more forward but we jumped out and he jumped a bit ordinary so I just stayed back and hoped for a run, and God shined down and gave us a run and it was great," a thrilled Pracey-Holmes said post-race.
"It's really good. That's the biggest race of my career that I've won and as they said, it's a great story.
"He is only a little horse but by geez he has some ticker. I've only had the two rides for two wins and gee he tries hard."
The win was extra special for Pracey-Holmes given he had suffered a fractured c2 vertebra after falling at the Dubbo track six months earlier.
Immediately after the fall he'd feared for his career, but he avoided surgery and worked his way back to full fitness and winning form.
James Hatch can be anywhere, maybe he's taking in a race meeting somewhere around the bush or he could be travelling to pick up some cattle, and Stoneyrise comes up.
"It always comes up. People ask how we're going," he said with a laugh.
Hatch, still based at his outback property, still finds it hard to believe what happened that summer's afternoon at Dubbo Turf Club.
The win at Coonamble leading into the Country Championships gave him the belief Stoneyrise would run some sort of race, but not even he expected the type of performance produced on the day.
"Unexpected," he replies when asked what the day makes him think of.
"We'd never dreamt of winning it.
"When we left home on the Thursday [before the race] I think he was $45 and when we he jumped he was $10."
Some punters had more faith than Hatch leading into the race, and they were proved right.
Hatch didn't realise the enormity of the win until he finished his long trek back home from Dubbo.
"I got home and had 30 or so messages on the phone," he said.
They weren't just friends and connections getting in touch to congratulate him, Hatch was inundated with media requests as well.
Just as famed racecaller Col Hodges had predicted.
"They'll be writing stories about this one," Hodges had boomed as Stoneyrise went past the post to win the qualifier.
Stoneyrise achieved cult status immediately, to the extent Sky Racing sent a team out to his remote property to film a segment on the trainer and horse in the lead-up to the $400,000 Country Championships Final.
"Coming from here and just being a hobby trainer," Hatch continued.
"To go to Dubbo and have some people not know you and mix with them, it opened up their eyes a bit."
Unfortunately for Hatch, the reaction wasn't all positive.
One of the real dampeners for the trainer was an investigation launched into Stoneyrise by Racing NSW which came soon after the win.
Country Championships rules state all horses must spend a certain amount of time with a trainer before the qualifier, that way no-one can recruit a hugely promising galloper just days out from the event.
Stoneyrise had made a first start for Hatch in early 2015 but when suspicions around whether the horse had spent the entire time since at his stables were raised stewards arrived unannounced at his property to investigate.
Hatch was cleared of any wrongdoing and Stoneyrise was given the green light to contest the $400,000 final at Royal Randwick.
"Everything just stopped because of that," Hatch said, adding he felt the suspicions from others were just "sour grapes".
Stoneyrise is now an eight-year-old and still calls Hatch's property home.
A freak accident which left him fighting for life at one point has all but ended his racing days, but Hatch said he's happy and comfortable with a few horses on the property, spending much of the time by the river.
The accident came just as Hatch was preparing Stoneyrise for a crack at the 2018 qualifier.
Hatch assumes Stoneyrise caught his face on a fence post while alone. It resulted in his face being ripped open, his jaw dislocated, and numerous other fractures.
Hatch made the long trek to Dubbo again immediately to see a vet and the suggestion was to put him down, but the trainer and owner wouldn't hear it and opted for surgery instead.
Stoneyrise continues to live happily and healthily now.
"He's getting on a bit now," Hatch laughed.
Despite the rollercoaster since the heat win, the good times far outweighed the bad.
The trip to Sydney, the first time Hatch had raced in the city, was an incredible thrill and the laid-back farmer-trainer and his small horse became a hit with fans and media alike at the track.
Mainly because Hatch had started his long trip from home to contest the Saturday final on Tuesday morning.
Stoneyrise ran seventh in the final, which Hatch wasn't disappointed with, but the fact he led early rather than use his ability when coming from deep in the field late wasn't ideal.
"It was a big experience," Hatch said of his wild ride with Stoneyrise in 2017.
"Those sort of races gave blokes like us here a chance to have a crack."
The prizemoney the little gelding from the outback secured made life a lot easier for Hatch, living in a place of extreme conditions.
He continues to train now and has a small team in work, and one eye is even on the 2020 Western Racing Association Qualifier.
"The heat makes it a bit hard but we'll poke along," he said.
"By the end of January and February we'll see but it's a few months away and a lot can happen in racing."
That's something Hatch knows better than most.