AN 11th hour decision to run Sertorius in the Jayco Bendigo Cup (2400m) paid dividends for Geelong training combination Jamie Edwards and Bruce Elkington.
Edwards, who admitted he was close to scratching Sertorius on race morning, celebrated his first major country Cup success when the six-year-old won the $240,000 Listed event.
"He had a hiccup (fetlock injury) going into the Geelong Cup and I thought he could win at Geelong,'' Edwards said.
"We missed Geelong to come here... but I really didn't decide he was going to run here until 7.30 this morning.
"He'd had a little injury and he was going to the mile-and-a-half for the first time, but I thought he deserved his chance.
"I would have kicked myself if we came here and he pulled up sore. I wanted to make sure he was 100 per cent over the injury and he was.
"I'm really rapt that we decided to run."
Sertorius ($3.80 fav) was aided by a brilliant ride from jockey Ryan Maloney.
Maloney settled Sertorius in third place on the fence behind leader Tuscan Fire ($9) .
The son of Galileo always travelled well in the run and at the top of the straight Maloney eased him across the heels of a tiring Tuscan Fire and Kesampour ($7).
The Peter Moody-trained Kesampour gave a good kick, but Sertorius quickly reeled it in and then staved off a late charge from Massiyn ($8.50) to win by more than a length.
"He's been looking for this trip and his form this time in stacked up,'' Maloney said.
"He began well, it was a beautiful tempo and today was the first time I really haven't asked him to track up into a race.
"He did it himself and it was never in doubt."
The Bendigo Cup victory was Sertorius' eighth career win from 23 starts and he's now earned connections more than $500,000 in prizemoney.
All being well, Edwards will run Sertorius in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2500m) at Flemington on the final day of the carnival.
"He'll improve off that run considering it was his first go at the 2400m,'' Edwards, who has previously won the Ararat and Warracknabeal cups, said.
"If his fetlock pulls up okay he'll probably go to the Queen Elizabeth."
Last year's Bendigo Cup winner Puissance De Lune backed-up to win the Queen Elizabeth Stakes a week later and was made the early Melbourne Cup favourite.
Edwards was hopeful Sertorius could be a player in the Caulfield and Melbourns cups next year.
"This horse was winning at Flemington at the carnival last year,'' Edwards said of Sertorius.
"He'll be a seven-year-old Galileo next year, so we probably should have a good look at the big ones."