The inaugural running of the $500,000 The Country Discovery (1100m) has been won in impressive fashion by the ever consistent In The Boat for Warrnambool trainer Lindsay Smith.
The four-year-old Nostradamus gelding notched up his seventh win from just eleven starts in the feature and took his prizemoney to over $600,000.
Having never been out of the placings, In The Boat was coming off a Listed win in the Abell Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on March 18, starting $5 with online bookmakers.
Jockey Blaike McDougall partnered the horse for the third time and third win.
Getting up on the speed early from barrier 11 in the 12 horse field, In The Boat took the lead upon settling and never looked like giving it up. The Michael Maroney-trained Snapper tried to go with him down the straight, but In The Boat was too good, pulling away at the 200m and powering away for a 2.78-length win.
“He’s a little ripper. It’s great for the owners, great for all the staff back home and Lindsay,” said stable representative Paddy Keating.
“He seemed to get there (to the lead) easily enough. McDougall kept him three horses off the fence, he must have found a better line there and the horse did the rest.”
An emotional McDougall was thankful for the opportunity on the up-and-coming galloper,
“I’ve had a lot of support since moving down here, it’s been a bit overwhelming.
“The owners could have put anyone on today, so just a quick little shout out to (part owner) Dean Lester and his group of connections.
“I’m just very thankful.”
“I think as long as he stays sound and fit, he’ll win a Group 1, especially around The Valley.
“I haven’t ridden a Group 1 winner, but I reckon he’s got Group 1 written all over him.”